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- "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."
- ―Vito Corleone[src]
The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy from a screenplay by Mario Puzo and Coppola. Based on Puzo's 1969 novel of the same name, the film stars Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as the leaders of a powerful New York crime family. The story, spanning the years 1945 to 1955, centers on the transformation of Michael Corleone (Pacino) from reluctant family outsider to ruthless Mafia boss while also chronicling the Corleone family under the patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando).
The Godfather is widely regarded as one of the greatest films in world cinema—and as one of the most influential, especially in the gangster genre. Now ranked as the second greatest film in American cinema (behind Citizen Kane) by the American Film Institute, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1990.
The film was for a time the highest grossing picture ever made, and remains the box office leader for 1972. It won three Oscars that year: for Best Picture, for Best Actor (Brando) and in the category Best Adapted Screenplay for Puzo and Coppola. Its nominations in seven other categories included Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall for Best Supporting Actor and Coppola for Best Director. The success spawned two sequels: The Godfather Part II in 1974, and The Godfather Part III in 1990.
In late summer 1945, guests are gathered for the wedding reception of Don Vito Corleone's (Marlon Brando) daughter Connie (Talia Shire) and Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo). Vito, the head of the Corleone Mafia family, is known to friends and associates as "Godfather." He and Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), the Corleone family lawyer and Vito's adopted son, are hearing requests for favors because, according to Italian tradition, "no Sicilian can refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day." One of the men who asks the Don for a favor is Amerigo Bonasera, a mortician and acquaintance of the Don, whose daughter was brutally beaten by two young men for refusing their advances; the men received minimal punishment. The Don is disappointed in Bonasera, who'd avoided most contact with the Don due to Corleone's criminal dealings. The Don's wife is godmother to Bonasera's shamed daughter, a relationship the Don uses to extract new loyalty from the undertaker. The Don agrees to have his men punish the young men responsible in return for future service if necessary.
Meanwhile, the Don's youngest son Michael (Al Pacino), a decorated Marine hero returning from World War II service, arrives at the wedding and tells his girlfriend Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) anecdotes about his family, informing her about his father's criminal life, but he reassures her that he is different from his family and doesn't plan to join them. The wedding scene serves as critical exposition for the remainder of the film, as Michael introduces the main characters to Kay. Fredo (John Cazale), Michael's next older brother, is a bit dim-witted and quite drunk by the time he finds Michael at the party. Sonny (James Caan), the Don's eldest child and next in line to become Don upon his father's retirement, is married but he is a hot-tempered philanderer who sneaks into a bedroom to have sex with one of Connie's bridesmaids, Lucy Mancini (Jeannie Linero). Tom Hagen is not related to the family by blood but is considered one of the Don's sons because he was homeless when he befriended Sonny in the Little Italy neighborhood of Manhattan and the Don took him in and saw to Tom's upbringing and education. Now a talented attorney, Tom is being groomed for the important position of consigliere (counselor) to the Don, despite his non-Sicilian heritage.
Also among the guests at the celebration is the famous singer Johnny Fontane (Al Martino), Don Vito's godson, who has come from Hollywood to petition Vito's help in landing a movie role that will revitalize his flagging career. Jack Woltz (John Marley), the head of the studio, denies Fontane the part (a character much like Johnny himself), which will make him an even bigger star, but Don Corleone explains to Johnny: "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." The Don also receives congratulatory salutations from Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana), his terrifying enforcer in the criminal underworld, and fills a request from Nazorine, the baker who made Connie's wedding cake, who wishes for the man his daughter has fallen in love with, Enzo, to become an American citizen.
After the wedding, Hagen is dispatched to Los Angeles to meet with Woltz, but Woltz angrily tells him that he will never cast Fontane in the role. Woltz holds a grudge because Fontane seduced and "ruined" a starlet who Woltz had been grooming for stardom and with whom he had a sexual relationship. Woltz is persuaded to give Johnny the role, however, when he wakes up early the next morning and feels something wet in his bed. He pulls back the sheets and finds himself in a pool of blood; he screams in horror when he discovers the severed head of his prized $600,000 stud horse, Khartoum, in the bed with him. (A deleted scene from the film implies that Luca Brasi, Vito's top hitman, is responsible.)
Upon Hagen's return, the family meets with Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo (Al Lettieri), who is being backed by the rival Tattaglia family. He asks Don Corleone for financing as well as political and legal protection for importing and distributing heroin. Despite the huge profit to be made, the Don refuses, explaining that his political influence would be jeopardized by a move into the narcotics trade -- the judges and politicians he's allied himself with over the course of several decades would renounce their friendships with him if he were to enter the drug trade. Sonny, who had earlier urged the family to enter the narcotics trade, breaks rank during the meeting and questions Sollozzo's assurances as to the Corleone family's investment being guaranteed by the Tattaglia family. His father, angry at Sonny's dissension in a non-family member's presence, privately rebukes him later. Don Corleone then dispatches Luca Brasi to infiltrate Sollozzo's organization and report back with information. During the meeting, while Brasi bends over to allow Bruno Tattaglia to light his cigarette, he is stabbed in the hand by Sollozzo, and is subsequently garroted by an assassin.
Soon after his meeting with Sollozzo, Don Corleone is gunned down in an assassination attempt just outside his office, and it is not immediately known whether he has survived. Fredo Corleone had been assigned driving and protection duty for his father when Paulie Gatto, the Don's usual bodyguard, had called in sick. Fredo proves to be ineffectual, fumbling with his gun and unable to shoot back. When Sonny hears about the Don being shot and Paulie's absence, he orders his father's caporegime (captain) Peter Clemenza (Richard S. Castellano) to find Paulie and bring him to the Don's house.
Sollozzo abducts Tom Hagen and persuades him to offer Sonny the deal previously offered to his father. While Tom is being released, Sollozzo gets word that the Don has survived the attempt on his life. He angrily tells Tom to persuade Sonny to accept his offer. Enraged, Sonny refuses to consider it and issues an ultimatum to the Tattaglias: turn over Sollozzo or face a lengthy, bloody and costly gang war. They refuse, and instead send Sonny "a Sicilian message," in the form of two fresh fish wrapped in Luca Brasi's bullet-proof vest, telling the Corleones that Luca Brasi "sleeps with the fishes."
Clemenza later takes Paulie and one of the family's hitmen, Rocco Lampone (Tom Rosqui), for a drive into Manhattan. Sonny wants to "go to the mattresses" -- set up beds in apartments for Corleone button men to operate out of in the event that the crime war breaks out. On their way back from Manhattan, Clemenza has Paulie stop the car in a remote area so he can urinate. Rocco shoots Paulie dead; he and Clemenza leave Paulie and the car behind.
Michael, whom the other Mafia families consider a "civilian" uninvolved in mob business, visits his father at a small private hospital. He is shocked to find that no one is guarding him -- a nurse tells him that the men were interfering with hospital policy and were told to leave by the police about 10 minutes before Mike's arrival. Realizing that his father is again being set up to be killed, he calls Sonny for help, moves his father to another room, and goes outside to watch the entrance. Michael enlists help from Enzo the baker (Gabriele Torrei), who has come to the hospital to pay his respects. Together, they bluff away Sollozzo's men as they drive by. Police cars soon appear bringing the corrupt Captain McCluskey (Sterling Hayden), who viciously punches Michael in the cheek and breaks his jaw when Michael insinuates that Sollozzo paid McCluskey to set up his father. Just then, Hagen arrives with "private detectives" licensed to carry guns to protect Don Corleone, and he takes the injured Michael home. Sonny responds by having Bruno Tattaglia (Tony Giorgio), the eldest son and underboss of Don Philip Tattaglia (Victor Rendina), killed (off-camera).
Following the attempt on the Don's life at the hospital, Sollozzo requests a meeting with the Corleones, which Captain McCluskey will attend as Sollozzo's bodyguard. When Michael volunteers to kill both men during the meeting, Sonny and the other senior Family members are amused; however, Michael convinces them that he is serious and that killing Sollozzo and McCluskey is in the family's interest: "It's not personal. It's strictly business." Because Michael is considered a civilian, he won't be regarded as a suspicious ambassador for the Corleones. Although police officers are usually off limits for hits, Michael argues that since McCluskey is corrupt and has illegal dealings with Sollozzo, he is fair game. Michael also implies that newspaper reporters that the Corleones have on their payroll would delight in publishing stories about a corrupt police captain.
Michael meets with Clemenza, one of his father's caporegimes (captains), who prepares a small pistol for him, covering the trigger and grip with tape to prevent any fingerprint evidence. He instructs Michael about the proper way to perform the assassination and tells him to leave the gun behind. He also tells Michael that the family were all very proud of Michael for becoming a war hero during his service in the Marines. Clemenza shows great confidence that Michael can perform the job and tells him it will all go smoothly. The plan is to have the Corleone's informers find out the location of the meeting and plant the revolver before Michael, Sollozzo and McCluskey arrive.
Before the meeting in a small Italian restaurant, McCluskey frisks Michael for weapons and finds him clean. After a few minutes where Michael and Sollozzo converse in Italian, Michael excuses himself to go to the bathroom, where he retrieves the planted revolver. Returning to the table, he fatally shoots Sollozzo, then McCluskey. Michael is sent to hide in Sicily while the Corleone family prepares for all-out warfare with the Five Families (who are united against the Corleones) as well as a general clampdown on the mob by the police and government authorities. When the Don returns home from the hospital, he is distraught to learn that it was Michael who killed Sollozzo and McCluskey.
Meanwhile, Connie and Carlo's marriage is disintegrating. They argue publicly over Carlo's suspected infidelity and his possessive behavior toward Connie. By Italian tradition, nobody, not even a high-ranking Mafia Don like Connie's father, can intervene in a married couple's personal disputes, even if they involve infidelity, money, or domestic abuse. One day, Sonny sees a bruise on Connie's face and she tells him that Carlo hit her after she asked him if he was having an affair. Sonny tracks down and severely beats up Carlo Rizzi in the middle of a crowded street for brutalizing the pregnant Connie, and threatens to kill Carlo if he ever abuses Connie again. An angry Carlo responds by plotting with Don Tattaglia and Don Emilio Barzini (Richard Conte), the Corleones' chief rivals, to have Sonny killed.
Later, Carlo has one of his mistresses phone his house, knowing that Connie will answer. The woman asks Connie to tell Carlo not to meet her tonight. The very pregnant and distraught Connie assaults Carlo; he takes advantage of the altercation to beat Connie in order to lure Sonny out in the open and away from the Corleone compound. When Connie phones the compound to tell Sonny that Carlo has beaten her again, the enraged Sonny drives off (alone and unescorted) to fulfill his threat against Carlo. On the way to Connie and Carlo's house, Sonny is ambushed at a toll booth on the Long Island Causeway and violently shot to death by several carloads of hitmen wielding Thompson sub-machine guns.
Tom Hagen relays the news of Sonny's death to the Don, who calls in the favor from Bonasera to personally handle the embalming of Sonny's body. Rather than seek revenge for Sonny's killing, Don Corleone meets with the heads of the Five Families to negotiate a cease-fire. Not only is the conflict draining all their assets and threatening their survival, but ending it is the only way that Michael can return home safely. Reversing his previous decision, Vito agrees that the Corleone family will provide political protection for Tattaglia's traffic in heroin, as long as it is controlled and not sold to children. At the meeting, Don Corleone deduces that Don Barzini, not Tattaglia, was ultimately behind the start of the mob war and Sonny's death.
During his time in Sicily, Michael patiently waits out his exile, protected by Don Tommasino (Corrado Gaipa), an old family friend. Michael walks through the countryside, accompanied by his ever-present bodyguards, Calò (Franco Citti) and Fabrizio (Angelo Infanti). In a small village, Michael meets and falls in love with Apollonia Vitelli (Simonetta Stefanelli), the beautiful young daughter of a bar owner. They court and marry in the traditional Sicilian fashion, but soon Michael's presence becomes known to enemies of the Corleone family. As the couple is about to be moved to a safer location, Apollonia is killed as a result of a rigged car, originally intended for Michael, exploding on ignition. Michael, who watched the car blow up, spots Fabrizio hurriedly leaving the grounds seconds before the explosion, implicating him in the assassination plot. (In a deleted scene, Fabrizio is found years later and killed.)
With his safety guaranteed, Michael returns home. More than a year later, in 1950, he reunites with his former girlfriend Kay after a total of four years of separation -- three in Italy and one in America. He tells her he wants them to be married. Although Kay is hurt that he waited so long to contact her, she accepts his proposal. With Don Vito semi-retired, Sonny dead, and middle brother Fredo considered incapable of running the family business, Michael is now in charge; he promises Kay he will make the family business completely legitimate within five years.
Two years later, caporegimes Clemenza and Salvatore Tessio (Abe Vigoda), complain that they are being pushed around by the Barzini family and ask permission to strike back, but Michael denies the request. He plans to move the family operations to Nevada and after that, Clemenza and Tessio may break away to form their own families in the New York area. Michael further promises Connie's husband, Carlo, that he will be his right hand man in Nevada (Carlo had grown up there), unaware of his part in Sonny's assassination. Tom Hagen has been removed as consigliere and is now only the family's lawyer, with Vito serving as consigliere. Privately, Hagen inquires about his change in status, and also questions Michael about a new regime of "soldiers" secretly being built under Rocco Lampone. Don Vito explains to Hagen that Michael is acting on his advice.
Another year or so later, Michael travels to Las Vegas and meets with Moe Greene (Alex Rocco), a rich and shrewd casino boss looking to expand his business dealings. After the Don's attempted assassination, Fredo had been sent to Las Vegas to learn about the casino business from Greene. Michael arrogantly offers to buy out Greene but is rudely rebuffed. Greene believes the Corleones are weak and that he can secure a better deal from Barzini. As Moe and Michael heatedly negotiate, Fredo sides with Moe. Afterward, Michael warns Fredo to never again "take sides with anyone against the family."
Michael returns home. In a private moment, Vito explains his expectation that the Family's enemies will attempt to murder Michael by using a trusted associate to arrange a meeting as a pretext for assassination. Vito also reveals that he had never really intended a life of crime for Michael, hoping that his youngest son would hold legitimate power as a senator or governor. Some months later, Vito collapses and dies while playing with his young grandson Anthony (Anthony Gounaris) in his tomato garden. At the burial, Tessio conveys a proposal for a meeting with Barzini, which identifies Tessio as the traitor that Vito was expecting.
Michael arranges for a series of murders to occur simultaneously while he is standing godfather to Connie's and Carlo's newborn son, Michael Francis Rizzi, at a Catholic church:
Don Stracci (Don Costello) is gunned down along with his bodyguard in a hotel elevator by a shotgun-wielding Clemenza.
Moe Greene is killed while having a massage, shot through the eye by an unidentified assassin.
Don Tattaglia is assassinated in his bed, along with a prostitute, by Rocco Lampone and an unknown associate.
After the baptism, Tessio believes he and Hagen are on their way to the meeting between Michael and Barzini that he has arranged. Instead, he is surrounded by Willie Cicci and other button men as Hagen steps away. Realizing that Michael has uncovered his betrayal, Tessio tells Hagen that he always respected Michael, and that his disloyalty "was only business." He asks if Tom can get him off for "old times' sake," but Tom says he cannot. Tessio is driven away and never seen again (it is implied that Cicci shoots and kills Tessio with his own gun after he disarms him prior to entering the car).
Meanwhile, Michael confronts Carlo about Sonny's murder and forces him to admit his role in setting up the ambush, having been approached by Barzini himself. Michael assures Carlo he will not be killed, but his punishment is exclusion from all family business. He hands Carlo a plane ticket to exile in Las Vegas. However, when Carlo gets into a car headed for the airport, he is garroted to death by Clemenza, on Michael's orders.
Later, a hysterical Connie confronts Michael at the Corleone compound as movers carry away the furniture in preparation for the family move to Nevada. She accuses him of murdering Carlo in retribution for Carlo's brutal treatment of her and for Carlo's suspected involvement in Sonny's murder. After Connie is removed from the house, Kay questions Michael about Connie's accusation, but he refuses to answer, reminding her to never ask him about his business or what he does for a living. She insists, and Michael lies, telling her that he played no role in Carlo's death. Kay believes him and is relieved. The film ends with Clemenza, Rocco Lampone and Al Neri arriving and paying their respects to Michael. Clemenza kisses Michael's hand and greets him as "Don Corleone." As Kay watches, the office door is closed.
- Don Vito Corleone .... Marlon Brando
- Michael Corleone .... Al Pacino
- Sonny Corleone .... James Caan
- Peter Clemenza .... Richard S. Castellano
- Tom Hagen .... Robert Duvall
- Mark McCluskey .... Sterling Hayden
- Jack Woltz .... John Marley
- Emilio Barzini .... Richard Conte
- Virgil Sollozzo .... Al Lettieri
- Kay Adams .... Diane Keaton
- Salvatore Tessio .... Abe Vigoda
- Connie Corleone .... Talia Shire
- Carlo Rizzi .... Gianni Russo
- Fredo Corleone .... John Cazale
- Carmine Cuneo .... Rudy Bond
- Johnny Fontane .... Al Martino
- Carmela Corleone .... Morgana King
- Luca Brasi .... Lenny Montana
- Paulie Gatto .... John Martino
- Amerigo Bonasera .... Salvatore Corsitto
- Al Neri .... Richard Bright
- Moe Greene .... Alex Rocco
- Bruno Tattaglia .... Tony Giorgio
- Nazorine .... Vito Scotti
- Theresa Hagen .... Tere Livrano
- Philip Tattaglia .... Victor Rendina
- Lucy Mancini .... Jeannie Linero
- Sandra Corleone .... Julie Gregg
- Signora Clemenza .... Ardell Sheridan
- Apollonia Vitelli .... Simonetta Stefanelli
- Fabrizio .... Angelo Infanti
- Don Tommasino ..... Corrado Gaipa
- Calò .... Franco Citti
- Signor Vitelli .... Saro Urzì
- Extra in furniture moving scene .... Max Brandt
- Piano player in montage scene .... Carmine Coppola
- Baptism observer .... Gian-Carlo Coppola
- Diner in Louis Restaurant .... Italia Coppola
- Michael Rizzi .... Sofia Coppola
- Victor Stracci .... Don Costello
- Cowboy on the set at Woltz's studio .... Gray Frederickson
- Usher in bridal party .... Ron Gilbert
- Anthony Corleone .... Anthony Gounaris
- Sonny's bodyguard .... Joe Lo Grippo
- Cop outside hospital .... Sonny Grosso
- Don Zaluchi .... Louis Guss
- Sonny's killer .... Randy Jurgensen
- Singer .... Peter Lemongello
- Wedding guest .... Tony Lip
- Unknown role .... Frank Macetta
- Frank Hagen .... Lou Martini Jr.
- Father Hayes .... Joseph Medeglia
- Night nurse .... Carol Morley
- Lou .... Rick Petrucelli
- Floral designer .... Burt Richards
- Drunk .... Sal Richards
- Rocco Lampone .... Tom Rosqui
- Barzini's bodyguard at the funeral .... Nino Ruggeri
- Extra .... Frank Sivero
- Extra at wedding scene .... Filomena Spagnuolo
- Willie Cicci .... Joe Spinell
- Enzo Aguello .... Gabriele Torrei
- Wedding party guest .... Nick Vallelonga
- Wedding guest .... Ed Vantura
- Ray Clemenza .... Matthew Vlahakis
Behind the scenes
Coppola and Paramount
Coppola was not Paramount Pictures' first choice to direct. Italian director Sergio Leone was offered the job first, but he declined in order to direct his own gangster opus, Once Upon a Time in America, which focused on Jewish-American gangsters. Peter Bogdanovich was then approached but he also declined the offer and made What's Up, Doc? instead. Robert Evans, head of Paramount at the time, specifically wanted an Italian-American to direct the film because his research had shown that previous films about the Mafia that were directed by non-Italians had fared dismally at the box office, and he wanted to, in his own words, "smell the spaghetti". When Coppola hit upon the idea of making it a metaphor for American capitalism, coupled with his Sicilian and Italian heritage, he was offered the assignment. In the interview in 1997 which accompanies the 25th Anniversary Edition box set Coppola comments that, "They wanted to make it at a very inexpensive budget, which was probably why I was hired. I was young; I had two children and a baby on the way. I didn't have any money really. So, I was swept along (pause) by the studio basically wanting to make this film." At that time, Coppola had directed five feature films, the most notable of which was the adaptation of the stage musical Finian's Rainbow – although he had also received an Academy Award for co-writing Patton in 1970. Coppola was in debt to Warner Bros. for $400,000 following budget overruns on George Lucas's THX 1138, which Coppola had produced, and he took The Godfather on Lucas's advice.
There was intense friction between Coppola and Paramount, and several times Coppola was almost replaced. As early as the first week, Coppola was nearly fired when Pacino was badly injured, delaying production. Paramount maintains that its skepticism was due to a rocky start to production, though Coppola believes that the first week went extremely well. The studio thought that Coppola failed to stay on schedule, frequently made production and casting errors, and insisted on unnecessary expenses, and two producers unsuccessfully tried to convince another filmmaker to take Coppola's place. The producers scapegoated the other filmmaker when their attempt to fire Coppola became known. Because the producers told him that the other filmmaker had attempted a coup, Coppola says he was shadowed by a replacement director, who was ready to take over if Coppola was fired. Despite such intense pressure, he managed to defend his decisions and avoid being replaced. Coppola would later recollect: The Godfather was a very unappreciated movie when we were making it. They were very unhappy with it. They didn't like the cast. They didn't like the way I was shooting it. I was always on the verge of getting fired. So it was an extremely nightmarish experience. I had two little kids, and the third one was born during that. We lived in a little apartment, and I was basically frightened that they didn't like it. They had as much as said that, so when it was all over I wasn't at all confident that it was going to be successful, and that I'd ever get another job.
Paramount was in financial trouble at the time of production and was desperate for a "big hit" to boost business, hence the pressure Coppola faced during filming. They wanted The Godfather to appeal to a wide audience and threatened Coppola with a "violence coach" to make the film more exciting. Coppola added a few more violent scenes to keep the studio happy. The scene in which Connie smashes crockery after finding out Carlo has been cheating was added for this reason.
The film was originally budgeted for $2 million, and was scripted as a modern adaptation. However, when Coppola got his hands on the script, he was adamant that it be set in the same time period as the book, from 1945 to 1955. This required a large number of second unit shots, some of which embarrassed Coppola at the time.
Coppola's casting choices were unpopular with studio executives at Paramount, particularly Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone. Coppola's first two choices for the role were Brando and Laurence Olivier, but Olivier's agent refused the role, saying, "Lord Olivier is not taking any jobs. He's very sick. He's gonna die soon and he's not interested" (Olivier lived 18 years after the refusal). Paramount wanted Ernest Borgnine and refused to accept Brando because he had delayed production on his recent films. Coppola was told by Paramount president Stanley Jaffe that "Marlon Brando will never appear in this motion picture." One studio executive proposed Danny Thomas for the role since Don Corleone was a strong "family man". After pleading with the executives, Coppola was allowed to cast Brando only if he accepted a lower salary than for his previous films, performed a screen-test, and put up a bond insuring that he would not cause any delays in production. Coppola chose Brando over Borgnine on the basis of his screen test, which also won over the Paramount leadership. Charles Bluhdorn in particular was captivated by Brando's screen test; when he saw it, he exclaimed, "What are we watching? Who is this old guinea?" Brando later won an Academy Award for his portrayal, which he refused to accept in order to call attention to harmful Hollywood stereotypes of Native Americans.
The studio originally wanted Robert Redford or Ryan O'Neal to play Michael Corleone, but Coppola wanted an unknown who looked like an Italian-American, whom he found in Al Pacino. Pacino was not well known at the time, having appeared in only two minor films, and the studio did not consider him right for the part, in part because of his height. Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Martin Sheen, and James Caan also auditioned. At one point, Caan was the first choice to play Michael, while Carmine Caridi was signed as elder brother Sonny. Pacino was given the role only after Coppola threatened to quit the production; Caan stated that Coppola envisioned Michael to be the Sicilian-looking one and Sonny was the Americanized version. The studio agreed to Pacino on the condition that Caan was cast as Sonny instead of Caridi, despite the former's Jewish heritage and the latter closely matching the character in the novel (a six-foot-four, black-haired Italian-American bull). Coppola and Puzo would subsequently create a role for Caridi in the sequels.
Bruce Dern, Paul Newman, and Steve McQueen were considered for the role of Tom Hagen that eventually went to Robert Duvall. Sylvester Stallone auditioned for Carlo Rizzi and Paulie Gatto, Anthony Perkins for Sonny, and Mia Farrow auditioned for Kay. William Devane was seen for the role of Moe Greene. Mario Adorf was approached for a role as well. A then-unknown Robert De Niro auditioned for the roles of Michael, Sonny, Carlo, and Paulie. He was cast as Paulie, but Coppola arranged a "trade" with The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight to get Al Pacino from that film. De Niro later played the young Vito Corleone in Part II, winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the role.
To some extent, the film was a family affair for Francis Ford Coppola. Carmine Coppola, his father, who had a distinguished career as a composer, conductor and arranger, wrote additional music for the film and appeared in a bit part as a piano player, and Carmine's wife, Italia Coppola, was an extra. The director's sister, Talia Shire, was cast as Connie Corleone, and his infant daughter, Sofia, played Connie's and Carlo's newborn son, Michael Francis Rizzi, in the climactic baptism scene near the movie's end. Coppola also cast his sons as Tom Hagen's sons, Frank and Andrew. They are seen in the Sonny-Carlo street fight scene and behind Pacino and Duvall during the funeral scene.
Al Pacino, James Caan and Diane Keaton each received $35,000 for their work on The Godfather, and Robert Duvall got $36,000 for eight weeks of work. Marlon Brando, on the other hand, was paid $50,000 for six weeks and weekly expenses of $1,000, plus 5% of the film, capped at $1.5 million. Brando later sold his points back to Paramount for $300,000.
Most of the principal photography took place from March 29, 1971 to August 6, 1971, although a scene with Pacino and Keaton was shot in the autumn — there were a total of 77 days of shooting, fewer than the 83 for which the production had budgeted.
The opening shot is a long, slow pullback, starting with a close-up of Bonasera, who is petitioning Don Corleone, and ending with the Godfather, seen from behind, framing the picture. This move, which lasts for about three minutes, was shot with a computer-controlled zoom lens designed by Tony Karp.
One of the movie's most shocking moments involved the real severed head of a horse. Animal rights groups protested the inclusion of the scene. Coppola later stated that the horse's head was delivered to him from a dog food company; a horse had not been killed specifically for the movie. This scene was shot in Port Washington, New York.
In the novel, Jack Woltz, the movie producer whose horse's head is put in his bed, is also shown to be a pedophile as Tom Hagen sees a young girl (presumably one of Woltz's child stars) crying while walking out of Woltz's room. This scene was cut from the theatrical release but can be found on the DVD (though Woltz can still briefly be seen kissing the girl on the cheek in his studio in the film).
The scene with Michael driving with McCluskey and Sollozzo avoided the use of back-projection because of cost. Technicians moved lights behind the car to create the illusion.
The startling scene of McCluskey's shooting was accomplished by building a fake forehead on top of actor Sterling Hayden. A gap was cut in the center, filled with fake blood, and capped off with a plug of prosthetic flesh. The plug was quickly yanked out with monofilament fishing line, making a bloody hole suddenly appear in Hayden's head.
The most complicated filming scene was the death of Sonny Corleone at the Jones Beach Causeway toll plaza midway through the film. Caan's suit was rigged with 127 squibs of fake blood that exploded in a simulation of multiple sub machine-gun bullet hits.
The shooting of Moe Green through the eye was inspired by the death of gangster Bugsy Siegel. To achieve the effect, actor Alex Rocco's glasses had two tubes hidden in their frames. One had fake blood in it, and the other had a BB gun and compressed air. When the gun was shot, the compressed air shot the BB through the glasses, shattering them from the inside. The other tube then released the fake blood.
Locations in America
Locations around New York City were used for the film, including the then-closed flagship store of Best & Company on Fifth Avenue, which was dressed up and used for the scene in which Pacino and Keaton are Christmas shopping. At least one location in Los Angeles was used also (for the exterior of Woltz's mansion), for which neither Robert Duvall nor John Marley was available; in some shots, it is possible to see that extras are standing in for the two actors. A scene with Pacino and Keaton was filmed in the town of Ross, California. The Sicilian towns of Savoca and Forza d'Agrò outside of Taormina were also used for exterior locations. Interiors were shot at Filmways Studio in New York.
A side entrance to Bellevue Hospital was used for Michael's confrontation with police Captain McCluskey. As of 2007, the steps and gate to the hospital were still there but have fallen victim to neglect.
The hospital interiors, when Michael visits his father there, were filmed at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary on 14th Street, in Manhattan, New York City.
The location of the meeting of the Dons was filmed at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. However, the interior shooting location of the meeting was the Boardroom of the Penn Central Railroad in Grand Central Terminal, 32nd floor.
The scene in which Don Barzini was assassinated was filmed on the steps of the New York State Supreme Court building on Foley Square in Manhattan, New York City.
The wedding scene at the Corleone family compound was shot at 110 Longfellow Avenue in the Todt Hill section of Staten Island. The numerous Tudor homes on the block gave the impression that they were part of the same "compound". Paramount built a Plexiglas "stone wall" which traversed the street – the same wall where Santino smashed the camera. Many of the extras in the wedding scene were local Italian-Americans who were asked by Coppola to drink homemade wine, enjoy the traditional Italian food, and participate in the scene as though it were an actual wedding.
Two churches were used to film the baptism scene. The interior shots were filmed at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in New York. For the baptism, Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 was used, as were other Bach works for the pipe organ. The exterior scenes following the baptism were filmed at The Church of St. Joachim and St. Anne in the Pleasant Plains section of Staten Island. In 1973 much of the church was destroyed in a fire. Only the façade and steeple of the original church remained, and were later incorporated into a new structure.
The toll booth scene was filmed at the site of Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York on Long Island, which was under construction at the time. It also utilized the former Mitchel Field, and the roadway used was once a runway.
The film's famous score was composed by Nino Rota. Francis Coppola's father Carmine Coppola contributed to the music performed in the film's wedding scene. Later, his son would call on him to compose additional music for the score of The Godfather Part II (1974) and most of the score for The Godfather Part III (1990).
Differences from the novel
One of the primary parts of Puzo's novel which was not used for the movie was the flashback story of Vito Corleone's earlier life, including the circumstances of his emigration to America, his early family life, his murder of Don Fanucci, and his rise in importance in the Mafia, all of which were later used in The Godfather Part II.
Many subplots were trimmed in the transition from the printed page to the screen, including:
- Singer Johnny Fontane's misfortunes with women and his problems with his voice (Johnny is a major character in the book);
- A teenaged Sonny's impulsive dabbling in street crime and his utterly lacking the tact and coolheadedness possessed in such abundance by his father;
- Sonny's mistress, Lucy Mancini, was a substantial character in the novel, but only appears briefly in the film. Additionally, the novel states that Lucy was not pregnant by Sonny when she moved to Las Vegas, thus leaving no room for her son, Vincent Mancini of The Godfather Part III;
- Dr. Jules Segal, who was excised entirely from the film;
- Jack Woltz's pedophilia, although in scenes shown in The Godfather Saga, the pedophilia is explicitly shown and mentioned by Hagen to Don Corleone;
- Kay Adams' home life and her brief separation from Michael;
- Luca Brasi's violent past;
- the Corleone family's victorious rise to power in earlier New York gang wars in which Don Corleone survives a previous assassination attempt and Al Capone sends triggermen from Chicago in an unsuccessful attempt to aid a rival gang;
- disgraced former police officer Al Neri's recruitment as a Corleone hitman;
- Don Corleone's ingenious plan to bring Michael out of exile in Sicily;
- the detailed savage attack on the two men who assaulted the undertaker Bonasera's daughter, which was led by Paulie Gatto and involved retainer thugs (which was only alluded to in the film).
Connie's confrontation with Michael over Carlo's death is also portrayed somewhat differently. Although she is initially distraught, accusing Michael of executing her husband as revenge for Sonny's brutal murder, in the book she apologizes to Michael a few days later, claiming she was mistaken, apparently glad to be rid of the abusive Carlo and that Sonny has been avenged. She also marries again less than a year later.
Characters with smaller roles in the film than in the novel include Johnny Fontane, Lucy Mancini, Rocco Lampone, and Al Neri (the last two are reduced to non-speaking roles). Characters dropped in the film adaptation besides Dr. Segal include Vito's terminally-ill consigliere, Genco Abbandando (only spoken of, he appears in a deleted scene featured in The Godfather Saga; he first appears on film in The Godfather II), family friend Nino Valenti, and Dr. Taza from Sicily. Also, in the book, Michael and Kay have two sons, but in the movies they have a son and a daughter.
The novel and film also differ on the fates of Michael's bodyguards in Sicily, Fabrizio and Calò. The film has them both surviving (Calò, in fact, appears in the third installment). In the book, however, it is stated that Calò dies along with Apollonia in the car explosion, and Fabrizio, implicated as an accomplice in the bombing, is shot and killed as one more victim in the famous "baptism scene" after he is tracked down running a pizza parlor in Buffalo. Fabrizio's murder was deleted from the film but publicity photos of the scene exist. (He is later killed in a completely different scene in The Godfather Saga which was deleted from The Godfather Part II.)
The book's ending differs from the movie: whereas in the film Kay suddenly realizes that Michael has become "like his family", the drama is toned down in the book. She leaves Michael and goes to stay with her parents. When Tom Hagen visits her there, he lets her in on family secrets for which, according to him, he would be killed should Michael find out what he has revealed. Kay returns to Michael in an uneasy compromise; she loves him, holds herself apart from the details of his work and attends Catholic mass daily with Mama Corleone to pray for Michael's soul, just as Mama had done for Vito.
Box office performance
The Godfather was a blockbuster, breaking many box office records to become the highest grossing film of 1972. It earned $81.5 million in theatrical rentals in North America during its initial release, increasing its earnings to $85.7 million through a reissue in 1973, and including a limited re-release in 1997 it ultimately earned an equivalent exhibition gross of $135 million. It displaced Gone with the Wind to claim the record as the top rentals earner, a position it would retain until the release of Jaws in 1975. News articles at the time proclaimed it was the first film to gross $100 million in North America, but such accounts are erroneous since this record in fact falls to The Sound of Music, released in 1965. The film repeated its native success overseas, earning in total an unprecedented $142 million in worldwide theatrical rentals, to become the highest net earner. Profits were so high for The Godfather that earnings for Gulf & Western Industries, Inc., which owned Paramount Pictures, jumped from seventy-seven cents per share to three dollars and thirty cents a share for the year, according to a Los Angeles Times article, dated December 13, 1972. To date, it has grossed $286 million in international box office receipts, and adjusted for ticket price inflation in North America, still ranks among the top 25 highest-grossing films.
Since its release, The Godfather has received universal critical acclaim. Rotten Tomatoes reports that all 77 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average score of 9.1/10.  Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a perfect weighted average score of 100 (out of 100) based on 14 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be "universal acclaim".
Both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II were selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1990 and 1993, respectively. International critics routinely list these two among cinema's pinnacle achievements, sometimes considering them as one work. In the decennial 2002 Sight & Sound poll of film directors, the pair was ranked as the second best film of all time. The critics poll separately voted it fourth. The American Film Institute has listed it second in U.S. film history behind Citizen Kane. Other polls and publications have it first, as well, among them Entertainment Weekly, and Empire magazine (November 2008)
The soundtrack's main theme by Nino Rota was also critically acclaimed; the main theme ("Speak Softly Love") is well-known and widely used.
Previous Mafia movies had looked at the gangs from the perspective of an outraged outsider. In contrast, The Godfather presents the gangster's perspective of the Mafia as a response to corrupt society. Although the Corleone family is presented as immensely rich and powerful, no scenes depict prostitution, gambling, loan sharking or other forms of racketeering. Some critics argue that the setting of a criminal counterculture allows for unapologetic gender stereotyping, and is an important part of the film's appeal ("You can act like a man!", Don Vito tells a weepy Johnny Fontane).
Real-life gangsters responded enthusiastically to the film, with many of them feeling it was a portrayal of how they were supposed to act.. Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, the former Underboss in the Gambino crime family, stated: "I left the movie stunned... I mean I floated out of the theater. Maybe it was fiction, but for me, then, that was our life. It was incredible. I remember talking to a multitude of guys, Made guys, who felt exactly the same way." According to Anthony Fiato after seeing the film, Patriarca crime family members Paulie Intiso and Nicky Giso altered their speech patterns closer to that of Vito Corleone's. Intiso would frequently swear and use poor grammar; but after the movie came out, he started to articulate and philosophize more.
Joe Bonanno, former boss of the Bonanno crime family, explains in his autobiography, A Man of Honor, the extraordinary response to the work: "This work of fiction is not really about organized crime or about gangsterism. The true theme has to do with family pride and personal honor. That’s what made The Godfather so popular. It portrayed people with a strong sense of kinship to survive in a cruel world."
Remarking on the 40th anniversary of the film's release, film critic John Podhoretz praised The Godfather as "arguably the great American work of popular art" and "the summa of all great moviemaking before it".
The Godfather won three Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor for Marlon Brando and Best Adapted Screenplay for both Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola. The film had been nominated for eight other Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall, Best Director for Coppola, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound. The film also had a Best Original Score nomination but was disqualified when found out that Nino Rota had used a similar score in another film. Despite having three nominees for the Best Supporting Actor award, they all lost to Joel Grey in Cabaret. It also lost the Best Director, Best Sound and Best Film Editing to Cabaret.
The film won five Golden Globes out of seven nominations. It won the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Score and Best Actor – Drama for Brando. It received two nominations for Best Actor – Drama for Pacino and Best Supporting Actor for Caan.
Nino Rota won the Grammy Award for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture or TV Special for the film's soundtrack.
At the BAFTA Awards, Nino Rota won the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music while Brando, Duvall and Pacino received nominations for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Most Promising Newcomer, respectively. Anna Hill Johnstone was also nominated for Best Costume Design.
Marlon Brando and Al Pacino boycott
Brando won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, but turned down the Oscar, becoming the second actor to refuse a Best Actor award (the first being George C. Scott for Patton). Brando boycotted the Academy Award ceremony, sending instead American Indian Rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather, who appeared in full Apache dress, to state Brando's reasons, which were based on his objection to the depiction of American Indians by Hollywood and television.
Pacino also boycotted the Academy Award ceremony, as he was insulted at being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor award, noting that he had more screen time than his co-star and Best Actor winner Brando and thus he should have received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Nino Rota's score was removed at the last minute from the list of 1973 Academy Award nominees when it was discovered that he had used the theme in Eduardo De Filippo's 1958 comedy Fortunella. Although in the earlier film the theme was played in a brisk, staccato and comedic style, the melody was the same as the love theme from The Godfather, and for that reason was deemed ineligible for an Oscar. Despite this, The Godfather Part II won a 1974 Oscar for Best Original Score, although it featured the same love theme that made the 1972 score ineligible.
- The film is ranked at the top of Metacritic's top 100 list, and in the top 10 on Rotten Tomatoes' all time best list (100% "Certified Fresh").
- In 2002, The Godfather and The Godfather Part II reached No. 2 on Film4's list of The 100 Greatest Films of All Time.
- Entertainment Weekly named The Godfather the greatest film ever made.
- The Godfather was voted in at No. 1 on Empire magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time in November 2008.
- In Time Out's 2003 readers' poll, The Godfather was ranked the second best film of all time, after Some Like It Hot.
American Film Institute
- 1998 AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – No. 3
- 2001 AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills – No. 11
- 2003 AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
- Vito Corleone – Nominated Villain
- 2005 AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse." – No. 2
- "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." – Nominated
- "It's a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes." – Nominated
- 2005 AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores – No. 5
- 2007 AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – No. 2
- 2008 AFI's 10 Top 10 – No. 1 Gangster film
Although many films about gangsters had been made before The Godfather, Coppola's sympathetic treatment of the Corleone family and their associates, and his portrayal of mobsters as characters of considerable psychological depth and complexity was hardly usual in the genre. This was even more the case with The Godfather Part II, and the success of those two films, critically, artistically and financially, opened the doors for more and varied depictions of mobster life, including films such as Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and TV series such as David Chase's The Sopranos.
The image of the Mafia as being a feudal organization with the Don being both the protector of the small fry and the collector of obligations from them to repay his services, which The Godfather helped to popularize, is now an easily recognizable cultural trope, as is that of the Don's family as a "royal family". (This has spread into the real world as well – cf. John Gotti – the "Dapper Don", and his celebritized family.) This portrayal stands in contrast to the more sordid reality of lower level Mafia "familial" entanglements, as depicted in various post-Godfather Mafia fare, such as Scorsese's Mean Streets and Casino, and also to the grittier hard-boiled pre-Godfather films.
In the 1999 film Analyse This, which starred Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal, many references are made both directly and indirectly to The Godfather. One dream scene is almost a shot by shot replica of the attempted assassination of Vito Corleone (Crystal playing the Don and De Niro playing Fredo). In the 1990 comedy The Freshman, Marlon Brando plays a role reminiscent of Don Corleone. And one of those most unlikely homages to this film came in 2004, when the PG-rated, animated family film Shark Tale was released with a storyline that nodded at this and other movies about the Mafia. Similarly, Rugrats in Paris, based on a Nickelodeon children's show, began with an extended parody of The Godfather.
The 2005 Sarkar, directed by Ram Gopal Varma, with Amitabh Bachchan in the lead role as a "Don" and his son Abhishek Bachchan as the equivalent of Michael, is modeled on The Godfather with due credits appearing at the beginning of the film.
In the DVD commentary for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas stated that the interwoven scenes of Darth Vader slaying Separatist leaders and Emperor Palpatine announcing the transformation of the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire was an homage to the christening and assassination sequence in The Godfather.
In popular culture
The Godfather, along with the other films in the trilogy, had a strong impact on the public at large. Don Vito Corleone's line, "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse", was voted as the second most memorable line in cinema history in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes by the American Film Institute. The line actually originates in the French novel Le Père Goriot, by Honoré de Balzac, wherein Vautrin tells Eugène that he is "making him an offer that he cannot refuse".
An indication of the continuing influence of The Godfather and its sequels can be gleaned from the many references to it which have appeared in every medium of popular culture in the decades since the film's initial release. That these homages, quotations, visual references, satires, and parodies continue to pop up even now shows clearly the film's enduring impact.
In Set it Off, four women - Lita "Stoney" Newsome (Jada Pinkett), Cleopatra "Cleo" Sims (Queen Latifah), Francesca "Frankie" Sutton (Vivica A. Fox), and Tisean "T.T." Williams (Kimberly Elise) - meet around a conference table at the office building they clean to plan a series of bank heists, during which time they do imitations of The Godfather.
In You've Got Mail, Joe Fox (played by Tom Hanks) quotes The Godfather, positing:
- "The Godfather is the I-ching. The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question. What should I pack for my summer vacation? «Leave the gun, take the cannoli». What day of the week is it? «Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday»."
The Warner Bros. animated show Animaniacs featured several segments called "Goodfeathers", with pigeons spoofing characters from various gangster films. One of the characters is "The Godpigeon", an obvious parody of Brando's portrayal of Vito Corleone.
John Belushi appeared in a Saturday Night Live sketch as Vito Corleone in a therapy session trying to properly express his inner feelings towards the Tattaglia Family, who, in addition to muscling in on his territory, "also, they shot my son Santino 56 times".
The Simpsons makes numerous references to The Godfather, including one scene in the episode "Strong Arms of the Ma" that parodies the Sonny-Carlo street fight scene, with Marge Simpson beating a mugger in front of an animated version of the same New York streetscape, including using the lid of a trash can during the fight. The "All's Fair in Oven War" final scene shows James Caan being ambushed by hillbillies (Cletus relatives) at a toll booth, a parody of the scene when Sonny Corleone (portrayed by Caan) is shot and killed. The later episode "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer" parodies the film's ending scene, with Lisa Simpson taking Kay Adams' role and Fat Tony's son Michael standing in for Michael Corleone. The horse-head scene is also parodied in the episode Lisa's Pony.
In the television show The Sopranos, Tony Soprano's topless bar is named Bada Bing after the line in The Godfather when Sonny Corleone says, "You've gotta get up close like this and bada-bing! You blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit."
In Season 5 Episode 7 of Breaking Bad, there's an explicit homage where Walter White orders the execution of prisoners that could implicate him as a drug king.
On an episode of the comedy sketch show SCTV, the cast has an episode that obviously and broadly parodies the film. While keeping to many mobster tropes seen in the actual film, the subject of the conflict is about Cable Television, or Pay-TV, rather than narcotics, and Guy Caballero, the head of SCTV, is meeting with the heads of the 'other' four networks, being CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS, to discuss this new venture. Unfortunately, 'Turk' Ugazzo delivers a very poor presentation, and Caballero balks, leading to network war. Guy himself is wounded buying some magazines and his sons 'hit' the other networks in retaliation - Sonny hits PBS twice, because he can't stand those 'eggheads'. Finally, Guy takes the FCC Oath while his men are hitting the other networks hard, interrupting several shows while filming, including Three's Company. Making peace with the other networks, Guy then has his sons call Turk Ugazzo so that they can now own all of Pay-TV by cutting the other networks out.
The show uses celebrity parodies done broadly. Tom Hagen is now Tom Hayden, a 60's activist. Johnny Fontane is Johnny Pavarotti, based on Luciano Pavarotti and played by John Candy. Instead of Bonasera The Undertaker, Caballero is asked for a vengeful favor on his daughter's wedding day by Floyd The Barber from Andy Griffith, who wants him to break Opie's arms, but who begs off at the 'lay down your life for me' part. Instead of the pedophilic Jack Woltz, Johnny Pavarotti has been denied a plum part by Leonard Bernstein, who is portrayed as a kook. He cannot get his talking horse, Senor Buschini, to talk when Tom Hayden is around, nor can he get his singing zucchini to burst into song. When he awakens in bed, the horse's head he finds is a comical stuffed horse that talks to him in a Goofy-like voice, warning him to give Johnny the part. When Guy is shot, the assassins unload an absurd amount of ammo into him, which Guy at first shrugs off to finish paying for his magazines before fainting. Rick Moranis as Michael always starts with how he doesn't want to get involved with the family - but then launches into an extensive, detailed plan they can use. When Rona Barrett reports on the network war, she states that it needs to happen 'every five to ten years.'
Releases for television and video
The theatrical version of The Godfather debuted on network television in 1974 with only minor edits. The next year, Coppola created The Godfather Saga expressly for American television in a release that combined The Godfather and The Godfather Part II with unused footage from those two films in a chronological telling that toned down the violent, sexual, and profane material for its NBC debut on November 18, 1977. In 1981, Paramount released the Godfather Epic boxed set, which also told the story of the first two films in chronological order, again with additional scenes, but not redacted for broadcast sensibilities. Coppola returned to the film again in 1992 when he updated that release with footage from The Godfather Part III and more unreleased material. This home viewing release, under the title The Godfather Trilogy: 1901–1980, had a total run time of 583 minutes (9 hours, 43 minutes), not including the set's bonus documentary by Jeff Werner on the making of the films, "The Godfather Family: A Look Inside".
The Godfather DVD Collection was released on October 9, 2001 in a package that contained all three films—each with a commentary track by Coppola—and a bonus disc that featured a 73-minute documentary from 1991 entitled The Godfather Family: A Look Inside and other miscellany about the film: the additional scenes originally contained in The Godfather Saga; Francis Coppola's Notebook (a look inside a notebook the director kept with him at all times during the production of the film); rehearsal footage; a promotional featurette from 1971; and video segments on Gordon Willis's cinematography, Nino Rota's and Carmine Coppola's music, the director, the locations and Mario Puzo's screenplays. The DVD also held a Corleone family tree, a "Godfather" timeline, and footage of the Academy Award acceptance speeches.
After a careful restoration of the first two films, The Godfather series were released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on September 23, 2008, under the title The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration. The work was done by Robert A. Harris of Film Preserve. The Blu-ray Disc box set (four discs) includes high-definition extra features on the restoration and film. They are included on Disc 5 of the DVD box set (five discs).
The restoration was confirmed by Francis Ford Coppola during a question-and-answer session for The Godfather Part III, when he said that he had just seen the new transfer and it was "terrific".
Other extras are ported over from Paramount's 2001 DVD release. There are slight differences between the repurposed extras on the DVD and Blu-ray Disc sets, with the HD box having more content.
Paramount lists the new (HD) extra features as:
- Godfather World
- The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't
- ...when the shooting stopped
- Emulsional Rescue Revealing The Godfather
- The Godfather on the Red Carpet
- Four Short Films on The Godfather
- The Godfather vs. The Godfather, Part II
- Riffing on the Riffing
- Main article: The Godfather: The Game
In March 2006, a video game version of The Godfather was released by Electronic Arts. Before his death, Marlon Brando provided voice work for Vito; however, owing to poor sound quality from Brando's failing health, only parts of the recordings could be used. A sound-alike's voice had to be used in the "missing parts". James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Abe Vigoda lent their voices and likenesses as well, and several other Godfather cast members had their likeness in the game. However, Al Pacino's likeness and voice (Michael Corleone) was not in the game as Al Pacino sold his likeness and voice exclusively for use in the Scarface: The World Is Yours video game. Francis Ford Coppola said in April 2005 that he was not informed and did not approve of Paramount allowing the game's production, and openly criticized the move.
Notes and references
- The Godfather - Official site from Paramount Pictures
- The Guardian - Mob mentality
- Fact and Fiction in The Godfather
- Vanity Fair - The Godfather Wars
- The Godfather film locations
- The Godfather transcript