I was talking about mob fiction the other night and, as a few readers pointed out, forgot to comment on The Godfather. What can I say? One and three are masterpieces. There's an excellent article about it in the London Telegraph this morning:
The Godfather: 'Nobody enjoyed one day of it’
Just like the film, the making of 'The Godfather’ was an ugly story of fear and dysfunction.
By Philip Horne
Published: 4:29PM BST 22 Sep 2009
At war: fallouts during filming almost ruined 'The Godfather'
'Make him an offer he can't refuse' - memorable lines in The Godfather
What was the formula that made The Godfather one of the most successful films of all time? Surely it would take an unusually harmonious combination of talents working in concert, a rare balance of commercial entertainment and artistic challenge, a run of luck those involved couldn’t miss.
But all wasn’t plain sailing on Francis Ford Coppola’s film in 1972. It was nominated for 11 Oscars, winning three, and on its $6 million budget grossed $101million for Paramount within 18 weeks of release. As the film gets a welcome cinematic re-release in a beautiful restoration, it is timely to dive into the swirling mists of legend and recall how far it was from a sure thing.
“It was the most miserable film I can think of to make,” declares its producer, Al Ruddy. “Nobody enjoyed one day of it.” Coppola agrees: “It was just non-stop anxiety and wondering when I was going to get fired.” The novel by Mario Puzo could easily not have been written: eight publishers passed on the outline for a would-be best-seller pitched by a middle-ranking, mid-forties writer with a bad gambling habit and big debts. Only bumping into a friend had led to his actually writing The Godfather. Its 67 weeks topping the New York Times best-seller list surprised everyone.
Paramount bought an option when Puzo had only written 100 pages, for a mere $12,500, rising to $50,000 if the novel was filmed. But maybe – if we’re to credit Paramount’s head of production Robert Evans – Paramount very nearly didn’t acquire it. There was a bidding war: they were “one day away from Burt Lancaster buying The Godfather, and Burt wanted to play the Don”.
For the rest go here: