2017 marks the 45th anniversary of one of cinema’s most memorable films, The Godfather. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago the director, Francis Ford Coppola, and the star-studded cast reunited at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York to celebrate the film’s release back in 1972. Those in attendance included Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, and James Caan. The event, lasting a reported nine hours in total, included the entire screening of The Godfather I and II as well as a discussion directly after the screening. The director and cast talked about what it took to get the film made the way that Coppola wanted it made. The only thing that could have made the 45th anniversary any better was if the late Marlon Brando was in attendance.
Apparently, the film was plagued with hardships from the start. Coppola, was not the first choice for director and when he was offered the position he expressed his lack of interest in directing a mafia movie. He also stated that he was not a fan of the book The Godfather by Mario Pizo when he first read it, but ended up being coerced into the job by George Lucas and the need for money. Casting was possibly the biggest roadblock to getting the film made. The studio executives did not agree with Coppola’s cast list. There were two actors in particular that they refused to cast, Al Pacino and Marlin Brando. As for Pacino, a theater actor with no on screen credits, the studio executives had a fit and dug in their heels against Coppola’s suggestion for Michael Corleone. In an in-depth interview with cigaraficionado.com, Coppola explained that the studio executives did not want “a runt” to play Michael Corleone. The problem with Marlon Brando was that his last film flopped and he was a known problem on film sets. Coppola was given three requirements that Brando must agree upon to be in the movie. Brando had to work for next to nothing, put up a cash bond to cover any extra costs, and do a screen test. Somehow, Coppola was able to convince the studio executives that his choice of actors was the way to go and the cast list was made final.
Another roadblock that Coppola had to face when making The Godfather was again placed upon him by the studio executives. This time they wanted the film to be made in Los Angeles in a contemporary time period. Both of these restraints were set in the hopes of keeping the production costs low, but Coppola, being the relentless director that he was, would not allow it. The studio executives suggested that he make the movie in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Kansas City, but absolutely not New York because it was incredibly expensive to make movies there. In his interview with cigarafficionado.com he recalled stating, “I don’t care. This movie has to be made in New York. It’s a New York story. It’s the five families of New York, for God’s sake. What do we do? Make it in Kansas City? And it has to be ‘period.’” Through more arguing and convincing, Coppola’s wishes were granted. The rest as they say, is history.
The Godfather went on to win three Oscars, five Golden Globes, and one Grammy. Not only did this film garner respect throughout the cinema world, but it solidified Marlon Brando as a Hollywood legend. It also skyrocketed Al Pacino’s career. For those who look to Rotten Tomatoes for movie recommendations The Godfather has scored a ninety-nine percent.
Coppola’s Other Work
Coppola has garnered much acclaim for several other films that he went on to write, direct, or produce. These films include Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, and The Godfather Part II. He has also made a name for himself in the wine industry by purchasing his own vineyard and creating his own brand. Not only is he a wine connoisseur, but a cigar aficionado as well—an avid enough aficionado to get an in-depth interview with Cigar Aficionado. Back in his prime directing years he could be seen on set or behind a camera with a cigar in his hand.
Celebrate the 45th anniversary of The Godfather by relaxing, watching the film, and smoking a cigar of your own. You can even make your own commemorative cigar for the occasion at customtobacco.com. They even have a father’s deal going on right now! What better way to celebrate than smoking a fine cigar while watching The Godfather with your old man?