The Godfather is a 1972 American crime movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy. The movie was based on Mario Puzo’s best selling novel of the same name. It’s widely regarded as one of the best movies of all time and it focuses on the powerful Italian American crime family of Don Vito Corleone. Take a look below for 27 more fun and interesting facts about The Godfather.
1. The story spans from 1945 to 1955 and it chronicles the Corleone family under the patriarch Vito Corleone. It focuses on the transformation of Michael Corleone from a reluctant family outsider to a ruthless mafia boss.
2. Paramount Pictures bought the rights to the novel before it became popular for $80,000. They had a lot of trouble finding a director who would direct the movie, as the first few candidates turned down the opportunity.
3. The movie was the highest grossing movie of 1972 and, for a long time, was the highest grossing movie ever made.
4. The Godfather won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. It also had seven other Oscar nominations, including Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall for Best Supporting Actor and Coppola for Best Director.
5. The movie is widely regarded as one of the greatest movies in cinema and one of the most influential movies in the gangster genre.
6. It was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1990. It was deemed, “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the American Film Institute and was ranked the second greatest movie in American cinema, only behind Citizen Kane.
7. The director who would direct The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola, originally turned the job down but, due to the financial difficulty he was going through at the time, reconsidered.
8. Al Pacino made just $35,000 for starring in The Godfather, but the role allowed him to make much more with his following movies, such as Scarecrow and Serpico. By the time The Godfather: Part II began filming, Pacino commanded a $600,000 salary and a 10% cut of the movie’s adjusted gross income.
9. Orson Welles lobbied to get the part of Don Vito Corleone, even offering to lose a lot of weight for the role. However, Francis Ford Coppola, being such a big Welles fan, decided to choose Brando.
10. Coppola was almost fired after a week of shooting due to an injury to Al Pacino and falling behind schedule.
11. In the movie’s opening scene, Vito is famously seen holding a cat. However, there was no cat in the original script and the cat was found by Coppola when he was walking through the lot at Paramount Studios. He liked the cat so much he wrote it into the movie.
12. The studio wanted to scrap the iconic puppet strings logo, which was created by graphic designer S. Neil Fujita for the novel’s release, with Puzo’s name above the title for the movie release. However, Coppola insisted on keeping it because Puzo co-wrote the script with him.
13. Paramount also asked Coppola to modernize the script and to have it take place in Kansas City because it was cheaper to film than New York. Coppola managed to convince them to keep the story in a post-World War II New York, in order to maintain the integrity of the movie.
14. Coppola sometimes held improvisational rehearsal sessions that consisted of the main cast sitting down in character for a family meal. The actors couldn’t break character, which Coppola saw as a way for the cast to get comfortable and organically establish the family roles that are seen in the movie.
15. When Coppola initially told Charles Bluhdorn, the head of Paramount, that he wanted Brando for the role of Vito Corleone, Bluhdorn told Coppola that Brando would never appear in a Paramount picture. This was largely due to Brando’s infamously bad on-set behavior.
16. Robert De Niro auditioned for the role of Sonny, but Coppola thought that his personality was too violent for the role. However, De Niro would later appear as the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather: Part II, evening winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role.
17. For the wedding scene, Coppola had the cast act freely and improvise in the background while he shot specific vignettes amongst the action.
18. The Corleone compound was a real location on Staten Island. It was put up for sale in 2014 for about $3 million.
19. Al Pacino really had his jaw wired shut for the first part of the shoot, after his character was punched in the face.
20. The horse head in the movie producer’s bed wasn’t a prop. The production got a real horse’s head from a local dog food company and the producer’s reaction was also real.
21. Associate Producer Gary Fredrickson once said that Lenny Montana, who played Luca Brasi, told him that he had worked as a Mafia bodyguard and arsonist.
22. Paramount wanted the movie to appeal to a wider audience so they hired a violence coach that helped add more blood, guts and bruises to the movie.
23. Brando agreed to play the part of Vito Corleone on the condition that Burt Reynold, who was being considered for the part of Sonny, would no longer be considered for the part. It turned out that Brando saw Burt as more of a TV star.
24. At the time the movie was shot, there wasn’t a more violent scene than Sonny Corleone’s death in The Godfather. It was also the most expensive shot in the movie, costing $100,000. James Caan wore 127 blood filled explosive squibs on his body to simulate bullets hitting him.
25. Brando wanted to make Don Corleone look like a bulldog so he stuffed his cheeks with cotton wool for the audition. For the actual filming of The Godfather, he wore a mouthpiece made by a dentist. The mouthpiece is on display in the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York.
26. James Caan also wore dental prosthetics for his role as Sonny Corleone. His fangs were built up using quick setting acrylic to make him look more animalistic.
27. In 1977, a TV movie version of The Godfather and its sequel were made. They pieced the scenes together in chronological order and called it The Godfather Saga.