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The Novel

  • Money, Dear Boy: Mario Puzo had written two acclaimed but unsuccessful novelsnote , was eking out a living as a freelance journalist and struggling with gambling debts. By his own account, a publisher suggested that Puzo's books would be more successful if he added gangsters. Puzo (who had little personal interest in The Mafia) followed his advice and The Godfather was the result.
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  • Overtook the Manga: Part II picks up where the novel ended, with Michael Corleone moving his family to Nevada, and Part III takes place decades later and concludes with the death of Michael Corleone. The novel series continued with The Godfather Returns in 2004 and The Godfather's Revenge in 2006, written by Mark Winegardner as Puzo died in 1999.

The Movies

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    Part I 
  • Actor-Inspired Element: Marlon Brando wanted Don Corleone to look like a bulldog. Also, nowhere in the script did it say anything about the Don holding a cat. That was a stray Brando found.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • All-Star Cast: Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, Abe Vigoda and Talia Shire were big names in the sequels, most of them owing it to the roaring success of the original. During the making of the first film, only Brando was a bona fide huge star and Sterling Hayden a household name; Richard Conte had been a leading man in the '40s and '50s, but was in the final stages of his career.
  • Award Category Fraud: Marlon Brando won the Oscar for Best Actor for playing Vito Corleone, even though the lead character is Michael, played by Al Pacino, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Pacino refused to attend the ceremony for this reason.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: A non-verbal example. Most parodies of the infamous "Horse's head in the bed" scene depict the recipient simply rolling over and seeing the offending head within their line of sight without having to get up first. In the actual film, however, Jack Woltz feels and sees blood on his sheets and finds Khartoum's head by his feet instead.
  • Billing Displacement: In the original, Marlon Brando gets top billing as Decoy Protagonist Vito Corleone, despite Al Pacino playing the lead role.
  • Breakthrough Hit: Because of the original, you know who Francis Ford Coppola is.
  • California Doubling:
    • Because Corleone, Sicily, was too developed, even in the early 1970s, the Sicilian town of Savoca, outside Taormina, was used for shooting the scenes where Michael is in exile in Italy.
    • Also the Corleone compound on Long Island, which was actually a cul-de-sac on Staten Island without a security wall (it was a Styrofoam prop installed for filming).
  • Career Resurrection: By the 1960's, Marlon Brando's failed movies outweighed his successes, partly due to his temper on set, and most movie studios considered him a risk. Flash forward to 1972, when Francis Ford Coppola wanted the 47-year-old Brando to play the patriarch of a Mafia family. Paramount finally gave in after Coppola gave Brando a screen test. Brando won an Oscar for his performance as Don Vito Corleone, and high-profile roles in Last Tango in Paris, Apocalypse Now and Superman soon followed.
  • Cast the Expert:
    • According to Associate Producer Gary Fredrickson, Lenny Montana (Luca Brasi) had worked as a Mafia bodyguard, and had also bragged to Frederickson about working for the Mafia as an arsonist. Coppola claimed that when he asked Lenny if he knew how to spin a pistol, he replied, "You kiddin'?"
    • Singing sensation Johnny Fontane was played by singer Al Martino.
  • Cast the Runner-Up:
    • Richard Conte and John Marley were among the many actors considered for Vito Corleone. Both ended up with smaller parts, as Barzini and Jack Woltz, respectively.
    • James Caan read for Michael and Sonny, and was provisionally cast as the former, with Carmine Caridi playing Sonny. When Pacino became Michael, Caan was cast as Sonny instead. As compensation, Caridi had a bit part in the first film (as an onlooker during Carlo's beating) and larger roles in the sequels, as Carmine Rosato in Part II and crime boss Albert Volpe in Part III. Besides Pacino, Keaton, Shire and Richard Bright, he was the only actor to appear in all three Godfathers.
    • Al Lettieri was another option for Sonny; he wound up playing Sollozzo instead.
    • Peter Donat was shortlisted with Robert Duvall for Tom Hagen. Appropriately, Donat was cast as Questadt, the Senate lawyer in Part II.
    • Robert De Niro audtioned for Sonny, as well as Michael and Paulie. He would later play the young Vito in Part II.
  • The Cast Showoff: The Don's wife, Carmela Corleone, is seen singing at the wedding. Morgana King, who played Carmela, was a gifted jazz singer, and portraying Carmela was actually her film debut, as well as her acting debut.
  • Creator Backlash: James Caan was angry that scenes giving Sonny more depth (such as his reaction to his father's shooting) were cut from the film. He confronted Robert Evans at the premiere and yelled at him, "Hey, you cut my whole fuckin' part out". Caan claimed that forty-five minutes of his character were cut.
  • Dawson Casting: Al Pacino playing Michael Corleone from ages of 25-35 resulting in a rare justification. He was actually only 16 years younger than Marlon Brando, who played Michael's father, Vito Corleone however.
  • Deleted Scene: Much of it restored for the chronological "Saga" miniseries:
    • Following Bonasera's exit in the first scene, Vito whistles at Sonny for not paying attention to business.
    • During the wedding reception, Tom Hagen informs Don Vito that consigliere Genco won't last the night in the hospital.
    • After the wedding, the Don and his sons are leaving the compound with Johnny Fontane to visit Genco. Vito asks Michael if Kay was able to get home all right.
    • In the hospital, the Don looks at Michael's military decorations with disdain then tells Michael that he has plans for him after graduation.
    • A dying Genco begs Vito to stay with him believing that Vito will frighten Death away.
    • An extended version of Jack Woltz's party for his child star, Janie.
    • After being thrown out by Woltz, Tom looks up and sees Janie crying and her mother push her back into Woltz's bedroom.
    • Connie and Carlo argue and she runs crying into Mama's arms. Sonny wants to confront Carlo but Vito tells him not to interfere.
    • After Tom returns from Hollywood, he discusses with Vito what he has discovered about Woltz.
    • Michael and Kay are in their hotel bed in New York City and don't want to go to the family compound. Michael has Kay call Tom pretending to be an operator, then Michael tells Tom that they are in New Hampshire and will be at the compound the next day.
    • On the way to meet Sollozzo, Luca sees the nightclub's neon sign burn out.
    • Sonny gets a call from a detective telling him about his father's shooting. He then tries to call Tom.
    • Sonny tells Mama about the shooting. He then goes into Vito's study, calls Tessio and tells him to prepare his men. He then tries to call Luca.
    • A quick shot of Michael driving, returning home after his father's shooting and Rocco offering to escort Michael into the house.
    • Michael brings Tom's wife Theresa into the study where Sonny and Tessio are. Sonny comforts her and tells them both to wait outside but Michael stays. They discuss with Michael whether Clemenza or Paulie was the traitor. Michael tries to talk Sonny out of going to war stating Vito would not want it. Then Tom returns home and hugs Theresa.
    • A quick shot of the Corleone compound that dissolves to the scene where they discuss their next course of action.
    • Rocco admires Clemenza's car but Clemenza complains that the bumpers are wooden due to the war effort. He then tells Rocco that he is to kill Paulie.
    • Clemenza has Paulie check the hideout spot. He then has Paulie make a stop so he can buy some cannoli and have a meal at a restaurant.
    • In Sicily, Michael and the bodyguards watch a Communist demonstration march.
    • While relaxing in the afternoon sun, Fabrizio begs Michael to bring him along to America when he returns.
    • Michael and his bodyguards visit his father's childhood home and find it abandoned.
    • After Connie hangs up the phone on Carlo's "girlfriend", she then confronts him in the shower. Then, Carlo orders her to make him dinner.
    • Bonasera is shown getting ready to return his favor to Don Vito. Bonasera tells his wife who is helping him get dressed that maybe he will be asked to be an accomplice to murder.
    • After the car bomb, Michael wakes up in bed surrounded by nurses and Don Tommasino. Michael tells Tommasino to find Fabrizio and he passes out.
    • Michael and Vito talk in the new garden after his return from Sicily. Michael takes responsibility for avenging the deaths of Sonny and Apollonia so Vito will not have to break his promise to the other Dons.
    • Additional dialogue when Michael removes Tom from his position as consigliere.
    • The final scene is Kay in a Catholic church lighting candles and praying.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Marlon Brando had to lose weight in order to play Don Vito Corleone.
  • Enforced Method Acting: In the "Woltz's bedroom" scene, John Marley (who played Woltz) was not told that they would be using an actual horse head for the scene, as they had used various props in rehearsals.
  • Executive Meddling: Stanley R. Jaffe, who was then Paramount's executive vice president and chief operations officer, along with producer Robert Evans, frequently fought with Coppola over creative matters during the film, from his decision to cast Marlon Brando and Al Pacino in the main roles, to his editing of the final product. It got so bad, in fact, that Coppola, constantly worrying about potentially being fired and replaced during the shoot, had to have the film's on-set physician prescribe him sleeping pills in order to combat his stress related insomnia. "The Godfather Wars" gives a very thorough account of the whole odyssey.
  • Fake Nationality: American Actor (of Anglo-Irish extraction) Marlon Brando plays Italian immigrant Vito Corleone. Jewish American actor James Caan plays his son Santino. The Jewish actor Abe Vigoda plays the Italian Sal Tessio. And in an unusual subversion of Jewish actors in Hollywood playing Italians, Italian-American actor Alex Rocco plays Jewish gangster Moe Greene.
  • Hostility on the Set:
    • During filming, James Caan and Gianni Russo did not get along and were frequently at loggerheads. During filming Sonny's beating of Carlo, Caan nearly hit Russo with the stick he threw at him, and actually broke two of Russo's ribs and chipped his elbow.
    • The relationship between Francis Ford Coppola and cinematographer Gordon Willis was highly combustible. They would often have screaming rows, with a few broken props as a result. After one incident, such a loud noise exploded from Coppola's office that the crew thought that Coppola had shot himself (he had only broken a door). They also conflicted because Willis was very hard on the actors and actresses about hitting their marks, with his low lighting scheme, if they missed, they would be filmed in total darkness. Coppola, on the other hand, considered himself a protector of actors and actresses. He felt that he could get the most out of them by nurturing them.
  • Life Imitates Art:
    • The real life mobsters were so flattered by the classy characterization of Brando and the Corleones in general that they started to style themselves after Don Vito, invoking all kind of mannerisms old-fashioned or forgotten by then (or just plain made up).
    • A real-life mob-boss was apprehended while he was playing the videogame adaptation.
  • Looping Lines: Sollozzo learns that Don Vito Corleone is still alive after the assassination attempt he ordered, and says to hostage Tom Hagen "That's bad luck for me, and bad luck for you if you don't make that deal!" before apparently releasing him. However, if you look closely you see that Sollozzo just says "That's bad luck for me, and bad luck for you": there was a short scene that was present in the book but cut from the film, where Tom Hagen arrives back at home and exclaims "Boy, if I argue against the Supreme Court I'll never do better than I did against that Turk tonight!", having convinced Sollozzo not to kill him on the grounds that he could still negotiate a deal with Sonny despite the Don being alive.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Coppola was head of a very unprofitable film company when he was offered the directing job (offered purely on the grounds that he was Italian), and thought it was a stupid genre movie that he didn't want to waste his time on... but he really needed the money.
  • One-Take Wonder: Sonny's death scene was the most expensive in the movie to setup and film, for it cost over one hundred thousand dollars to set up, and was finished in just one take from four or five different camera angles.
  • Orphaned Reference: While arguing with Tom, Sonny laments, "Pop got Genco, look what I got." This refers to Vito's former consigliere Genco Abbandando, who appeared in a deleted scene where Vito takes his sons to see him at the hospital.
  • Playing Against Type: This was Diane Keaton's first dramatic role, as she was primarily known as a comedic actress.
  • Real-Life Relative: Coppola defines The Godfather as his own family business because several of his relatives had minor acting or production-related roles in the movies. His sister Talia Shire played Connie Corleone in all three movies. His daughter Sofia was the baby being baptised at the end and his father Carmine composed part of the score.
  • Reality Subtext:
    • Jack Woltz's refusal to cast Johnny Fontaine in a film (allegedly) has its basis on Frank Sinatra and From Here to Eternity. It could also apply to Robert Evans refusing to cast Marlon Brando as Don Corleone.
    • Al Pacino's maternal grandparents emigrated to America from Corleone, Sicily, just as Vito Corleone had.
  • Referenced by...: Canadian figure skater Joseph Phan performed to The Godfather soundtrack for his long program during the 2017-2018 competitive season.
  • Scully Box: Both Marlon Brando and James Caan had to wear lifts for the movie.
  • Self-Adaptation: Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola worked very closely to adapt The Godfather and built together the new storylines of the sequels.
  • Star-Making Role: Al Pacino (Michael), Diane Keaton (Kay), and John Cazale (Fredo), who sadly didn't get much time to enjoy it due to his early death from cancer.
  • Throw It In!:
    • Professional wrestler Lenny Montana, cast as Luca Brasi, was so nervous about acting opposite Brando that he flubbed his line. Coppola liked it and kept it in, and later filmed the scene of Brasi rehearsing his line over and over to make the flub funnier.
    • The cat that Vito is cradling in the opening scene was not planned and the animal was not trained. It was a stray that happened to be lurking near the entrance of the studio when Marlon Brando arrived for work that morning, so Brando decided to simply adopt it.
    • Clemenza's famous "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." was ad-libbed by Richard Castellano.
    • In the "You can act like a man!" scene, Vito suddenly jumping, shaking and slapping Johnny Fontane was an improvisation by Brando, who felt that actor Al Martino was not showing enough emotion. Fontane's surprised face was unusable and is never shown, only his back.
    • The motif of oranges representing death. Initially, the film's art directors used oranges as props because they showed up easily onscreen, not intending any symbolism. Coppola certainly ran with the idea in the sequels, however.
    • The use of the garbage can lid when Sonny beats up Carlo was improvised by James Caan.
    • James Caan improvised the part where he throws the photographer to the ground. The extra's frightened reaction is genuine. He also came up with the idea of throwing money at the man to make up for breaking his camera. As he put it, "Where I came from, you broke something, you replaced it or repaid the owner."
    • The scenes in which Enzo comes to visit Vito Corleone in the hospital were shot in reverse, with the outside scene shot first. Gabriele Torrei, the actor who plays Enzo, had never acted in front of a camera before and his nervous shaking, after the car drives away, was real.
  • Troubled Production:
    • As described in this Daily Telegraph article this, everyone involved seemed surprised that the first film was completed, let alone successful as it was.
    • To begin with, pretty much everybody involved was only in it for the money. Mario Puzo, author of the original book, sold the film rights to Paramount for $12,500 (rising to $50,000 if it was filmed) having only written a hundred pages, chiefly because he was in debt to his bookie. Coppola, meanwhile, hated the book, and only took the job of directing the film because a) his production company American Zoetrope was out of money, and b) Paramount pushed hard for him on account of him being Italian (which it was hoped would assuage the concerns of Italian-American groups). Even then, Coppola was only brought in after several established directors like Costa-Gavras and Arthur Penn declined.
    • Speaking of Italian-Americans, those groups were outraged by the film, accusing it of promoting stereotypes and threatening to boycott it. You'll probably notice how the movie never uses the word "Mafia", as that was part of an agreement reached with said organizations. As for the actual Mafia? Well, you can ask producer Al Ruddy what they thought of it — he had his car windows shot out by gangsters trying to derail the film's production.
    • Coppola's relationship with the Paramount executives was chaotic — they hated the casting, the lighting, the writing, the music, the length, everything. For one, Paramount wanted to jettison the novel's period setting for modern-day New York. Equally controversial was the casting of Marlon Brando, which Coppola pushed hard for and Paramount pushed just as hard against due to his star having seriously fallen at the time, due to both a string of flops and his primadonna reputation. Coppola faked a heart attack in order to get the Paramount executives to relent. Al Pacino wasn't popular with the Paramount brass either, who preferred an established star like Robert Redford and were unimpressed by Pacino's screen test and early rushes.
    • Production wasn't that troubled on-set, apart from a delay due to Pacino twisting his ankle, but it's a miracle that no significant problems emerged. Coppola got no respect from the crew, many of whom thought that the movie was a piece of crap and that he didn't know what he was doing; several of his assistant directors openly complained to the studio brass. He expected to be fired at any point, and indeed, the executives were considering replacing him with Elia Kazan. He also got into an argument with cinematographer Gordon Willis.
    • All the way through post-production, Coppola feuded with producer Robert Evans over the film's style and pacing. One particular argument involved Evans demanding that Coppola include an intermission after Michael murders Sollozzo and McCluskey. Later, Evans demanded that Coppola cut the film down to a 135 minute runtime. Coppola complied, only to be chewed out afterwards for "ruining" the film. Afterwards, he re-edited it to the original length without complaint.
    • Despite the film's ultimate success, the experience left the entire cast and crew profoundly drained. Ruddy later said that "It was the most miserable film I can think of to make. Nobody enjoyed one day of it." Unsurprisingly, it proved increasingly difficult to reunite cast and crew for the sequels.
  • Uncredited Role: Robert Towne did uncredited work on the script, particularly on the garden scene.
  • Wag the Director: Mario Puzo was very proud of one particular line from the novel - "A lawyer with a briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns". He was adamant that it be used in the film, but Marlon Brando felt it was too preachy and it was excised.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • A large list of actors were considered for the part of Vito Corleone:
    • Robert Redford and Ryan O'Neal were considered for the part of Michael Corleone. Almost enforced by Executive Meddling as Coppola wanted the black-haired Mediterranean type but admitted that many Italians have blond hair and blue eyes.
    • Frustrated by the dithering over whether he would be cast as Michael, Al Pacino accepted the role of Mario Trantino in the comedy The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, but when he was offered the part of Michael after all, the role of Mario in Gang was taken over by the actor who had been cast as Vito's driver Paulie Gatto ("Won't see him no more") in The Godfather: Robert De Niro, who, if he had stayed on as Paulie, would have been prevented from taking his Star-Making Role in the sequel.
    • Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and Dustin Hoffman were all offered the part of Michael Corleone, but all refused. (Beatty was also offered directing and producing duties.) David Carradine, Martin Sheen and Dean Stockwell auditioned for the role. Tommy Lee Jones was considered, while Charlie Bluhdorn, the President of Gulf + Western, wanted Charles Bronson.
    • Anthony Perkins auditioned for Sonny. Burt Reynolds was also considered, the story being that Brando refused to work with him (he later believed that Coppola would never have cast him).
    • Bruce Dern, Steve McQueen and Paul Newman auditioned for Tom Hagen. Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Dean Stockwell, Robert Vaughn were considered for the role, while John Cassavetes and Peter Falk also sought it.
    • Elvis Presley, an avid fan of the book, auditioned for Tom Hagen, though he really wanted to play Vito Corleone.
    • Karen Black, Julie Christie and Mia Farrow were considered for Kay.
    • Sylvester Stallone auditioned for Paulie and Carlo.
    • Anna Magnani and Anne Bancroft turned down the role of Carmela Corleone.
    • Sergio Leone was Paramount's first choice to direct, but Leone disliked Puzo's novel and turned it down. His own gangster epic, Once Upon a Time in America, gives an idea how a Leone-directed Godfather might have turned out.
    • Leone was one of several directors offered The Godfather before Coppola. Arthur Penn also declined, because he didn't want to make another gangster film so soon after Bonnie and Clyde. Another early choice was Costa-Gavras, who liked the novel but didn't feel knowledgeable enough about American culture to direct the movie. Elia Kazan, Peter Bogdanovich, Fred Zinnemann, Peter Yates and even Richard Lester were considered before Coppola signed on.
    • Fabrizio, Michael's Sicilian bodyguard who planted the bomb that killed Apollonia, was supposed to be found by Michael at a pizza parlor he opens in America and subsequently blown away with a shotgun at the end of the movie as per the novel (though Michael isn't his killer in the novel). This scene was filmed but ultimately cut because the makeup artists plastered Angelo Infanti with so much fake blood that the scene looked ridiculous. Hence, the reshoot scene where he's killed via Car Bomb as the ultimate poetic justice.
    • Robert Evans originally wanted Henry Mancini to score the film.
    • William Goldman was asked to write the script, but declined.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Godfather Wiki.

    Part II 
  • Actor-Inspired Element:
    • Robert De Niro suggested the idea of Vito wrapping his gun with a towel before he shoots Fanucci.
    • Kay was originally supposed to have a genuine miscarriage in Part II. It was Talia Shire's idea that she would have an abortion instead, as the ultimate way to hurt Michael. To thank her for this idea, Francis Ford Coppola wrote in the scene in which she tearfully asks Michael to forgive Fredo.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series::
  • The Danza: Merle Johnson is played by Troy Donahue, whose real name is Merle Johnson.
  • Deleted Scene: As with the original, many of these scenes were restored for the made-for-TV "Saga" miniseries:
    • Don Ciccio's henchmen look for the boy Vito at his home. Vito's mother says she will bring him to Ciccio herself.
    • Don Fanucci tells the theater impresario that he should feature Sicilian songs or opera and then comically sings examples.
    • After Fanucci leaves, the impresario smacks his daughter for walking in at the wrong time.
    • Vito sees a group of hoods jump Don Fanucci and slice his neck. This explains the scar on his neck seen later.
    • Genco tells Vito about the attack on Fanucci and Vito pretends not to know about it.
    • In the café, Clemenza tells Vito that he will never work a regular job like his father did.
    • Vito meets Tessio for the first time outside a warehouse with Clemenza. They take the bag of guns inside to a man named Augustino Coppola. He tells his young son, Carmine Coppola, to play the flute as entertainment while he works on the guns. This is a tribute to Coppola's grandfather and father. The men also leave the warehouse with a bunch of dresses.
    • Clemenza tries to sell a dress to a married woman and ends up having sex with her while Tessio and Vito wait outside.
    • An additional shot of Vito driving down the street before Fanucci jumps in.
    • Additional dialogue after Fanucci gets out of Vito's truck.
    • Additional dialogue when Vito, Clemenza, and Tessio discuss how to handle Fanucci.
    • An extended version of the scene where Vito first talks to Signor Roberto.
    • Signor Roberto asks Genco if he can speak with "Don Vito".
    • Clemenza brings a young Jewish boy named Hyman Suchowsky to see Vito. Clemenza wants to rename him "Johnny Lips", but Vito decides he will be called "Hyman Rothstein" after Jewish gangster Arnold Rothstein.
    • When Vito returns to Sicily, he kills the two henchmen that looked for him as a boy. One he finds passed out in a hut and stabs, the other he rows up to on a lake and kills with an oar.
    • A wide shot of the train leaving the station in Sicily.
    • A quick shot of people waltzing at Anthony's communion party.
    • A quick shot of the bandleader looking at the dancers as he is conducting.
    • A man taking home movies of Tom and his family.
    • Fredo shows up late to Anthony's communion party because his wife, Deanna, is drunk. She runs up the driveway demanding to see Michael, then falls down and knocks down Fredo when he tries to pick her up. Fredo warns her not to embarrass him.
    • A thirsty Pentangeli tries to get a beer or wine at the communion party, but all the waiters have are champagne cocktails. This explains why he is seen drinking from a garden hose.
    • At the party, Sonny's widow, Sandra, brings their daughter Francesca and her fiancé, Gardner, to see Michael. Fredo barges in to tell Michael that Pentangeli is outside. Michael gives Francesca and Gardner his blessing to get married. She sees Kay and tells her the good news.
    • Al Neri tells Michael that he's tracked down Fabrizio, the man who murdered Michael's first wife, Apollonia. He now runs a pizza parlor in New York and is living under the name "Fred Vincent". He was brought to New York by Barzini.
    • A shot of four opera singers performing at the party.
    • A quick shot of Rocco berating one of his men.
    • Anthony runs towards the area where the button men are sitting and Kay chases after him, warning him to stay away. She then grabs and hugs Anthony.
    • Pentangeli sits with Anthony and drinks a full glass of wine in one gulp. Then, he gives Anthony a $100 bill.
    • Al Neri goes to a casino and fires Klingman on orders of Michael. When Klingman won't leave, Neri smacks him, chases him into a rehearsal of a stage show and threatens him with a chair. Klingman agrees to leave, then Neri tells the performers to continue the rehearsal which he stays and watches.
    • Fabrizio gets into his car outside his pizza parlor. He turns the ignition, and the car explodes. He falls out of the car and crawls around a bit before he dies.
  • California Doubling: A funny example in that the Corleone Compound is actually on Lake Tahoe, just on the California and not the Nevada side.
    • The Cuba scenes were filmed in the Dominican Republic since Cuba obviously wasn't an option.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: For the scenes where Vito returns to Sicily, Robert De Niro gained weight and wore a smaller version of the dental appliance Marlon Brando wore in the first film.
  • Enforced Method Acting: The scene with Signor Roberto struggling with the door was set up by having the actor playing Genco secretly force the door shut with a nail. The actor playing Signor Roberto was a famous Italian improv comedian and Coppola wanted to see how he'd react.
  • Money, Dear Boy: James Caan asked that he be paid the same amount of money to play Sonny Corleone at the end of the film in the flashback as he was paid to do the first film. He got his wish.
  • One for the Money; One for the Art: Coppola wanted to now move away from the studio and focus on his personal film projects The Conversation and Apocalypse Now, which he could get finance for... Providing he made another Godfather film. Then many years later he was struggling with debts from failed projects... people went to see my Godfather movies, didn't they? Yeah, let's make another one of those.
  • Orphaned Reference: In an early version of the script, an ongoing storyline was Tom Hagen having an affair with Sonny Corleone's widow. This was later discarded, but the line where Michael Corleone tells Hagen that he can take his "wife, children and mistress to Las Vegas" was kept.
  • Playing Against Type: Michael, especially in this film, is a more subdued and quiet role than what Al Pacino usually plays. This, ironically, was also Pacino's first major role. It could be considered a positive, actor-specific example of Early Installment Weirdness.
  • Real-Life Relative: Coppola's son Roman played the young Sonny Corleone and his grandfather Francesco Pennino composed the musical play Vito and Genco see in one of the flashbacks.
  • Refitted for Sequel: Vito's backstory is taken from scenes in the original novel that were left out of the first film.
  • Star-Making Role: Along with Mean Streets, this really put Robert De Niro on the map.
  • Throw It In!: Danny Aiello's line, "Michael Corleone says hello", was completely ad-libbed. Coppola loved it and asked him to do it again in the retakes. Aiello later claimed (on Gilbert Gottfried's podcast) that, due to being nervous about working with Coppola, he didn't hear himself when he said the line and, to this day, has no idea why he said it.
  • Troubled Production: Filming was easier than the first only by comparison. After the first film, Coppola joked that the only sequel he'd make is Abbott And Costello Meet the Godfather, and it took a lot of arm-twisting by Paramount to change his mind.
    • Coppola stated his terms upfront: he would only return if Paramount would a) give him complete Auteur License; b) produce his pet project, The Conversation in return; and c) ensure that Robert Evans have nothing to do with the movie. To Coppola's surprise, Paramount complied with his requests; their only concern was his decision to include Part II in the title. However, Al Ruddy (with whom Coppola had a good relationship on the first film) refused to return, leaving Coppola to produce it himself.
    • Shooting in the Dominican Republic (standing in for Cuba) proved the biggest problem: nonstop rainstorms delayed filming for weeks, while Al Pacino, Lee Strasberg and several crew members came down with tropical illnesses. Pacino took three weeks to recover, and Strasberg was so debilitated his infirmity was written into his character. There were also concerns about the parallel storylines of Vito and Michael, especially after Coppola delivered a disastrous rough cut, forcing a last minute re-edit.
    • The cast caused trouble as well. Pacino caused headaches throughout production, demanding a massive salary and heavy script rewrites. He frequently complained about Coppola's slow pace, yelling "Serpico only took nineteen days!" and threatening to quit. Richard S. Castellano (Clemenza) refused to return, leading to Michael V. Gazzo's eleventh-hour casting as Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Frank Pentangeli. Gazzo himself caused difficulties through heavy drinking; Coppola claims that Gazzo was drunk filming Pentangeli's Senate testimony. James Caan demanded the same salary as the first film for his brief cameo as Sonny; Marlon Brando backed out at the last minute.
  • Wag the Director: Francis Ford Coppola re-wrote the entire script over a weekend because Al Pacino said he didn't like the original and would not do the film. Apparently, he later said to Coppola that he hadn't actually disliked the first script all that much, but knew it could be better.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Coppola's rough cut ran almost six hours in length. Vito's storyline extended into the Prohibition Era, including a gang war with Al Capone and Luca Brasi's exploits as Vito's hatchet man. Michael's story continued, gaining political influence in 1960s Washington through his connections with Senator Geary (implying a role in the Kennedy assassination, among other things). Little of this footage survived, aside from the handful of deleted scenes used in the television re-edit, and one or two stills showing Robert De Niro as middle-aged Vito. Many of the ideas were recycled for Mark Winegardner's sequel novels and the putative scripts for Part IV.
    • Coppola wanted James Cagney to play Hyman Roth, even visiting the Hollywood legend at his home. Cagney passed on it. Peter Sellers was reportedly considered.
    • Joe Pesci was considered for the younger Peter Clemenza.
    • Coppola initially didn't want to direct the sequel, and instead recommended a young, up-and-coming director: Martin Scorsese. Paramount rejected the idea because Scorsese was too unknown at the time.
    • Originally Clemenza was to return but the actor made too many demands, and the character was replaced with Pentangeli. Given the scenes of Clemenza bonding with Michael and advising him on his first hit in the first film, it would have made the events of the second even more tragic.
    • Coppola wanted Brando to return in the sequel and play the part of young Vito, but it never came to pass. Brando was supposed to appear in the birthday party flashback at the end of Part II. But due to a dispute with Paramount he never turned up for the shoot, forcing Coppola to rewrite the scene on the spot, in which Vito is The Ghost.
    • In the original script, Tom gains Senator Geary's support by paying off his gambling debts.
  • Written By Castmember: According to Coppola on the DVD Commentary, G.D. Spradlin wrote many of his own lines, including his anti-Italian speech to Michael.
  • Written-In Infirmity: Lee Strasberg (Hyman Roth) became seriously ill after contracting a tropical disease while filming in the Dominican Republic. Rather than recast the role, Coppola rewrote Strasberg's scenes to make Roth's health a major plot point.
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    Part III 
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Bridget Fonda auditioned for Mary Corleone before being cast as Grace Hamilton.
  • Creator Backlash: Al Pacino stated that he did not agree with the portrayal of Michael. He didn't believe that Michael would ever feel regret or remorse for his actions, especially the murder of his brother.
  • Deleted Scene:
    • The movie would originally open with the scene of Michael talking business with the Vatican cardinal. It eventually opened with a Michael voice-over, and the original opening scene was pushed back to much later in the movie. The unedited version (where the two characters discuss Emperor Constantine) is seen on a DVD extra.
    • Don Altobello hands Michael and Constance an expensive check for the Vito Corleone Foundation, and Altobello declares lifetime peace between the two families. All three embrace each other.
    • A brief exchange between B.J and the Archbishop is seen during the party sequence. The Archbishop snaps softly at B.J "We had a deal!" B.J half-chuckles and says "Of course, how do you think I got all this grey hair." This scene hints early on the wrongdoings of the Archbishop, which isn't revealed until later in the theatrical version
  • Development Hell: The film remained in varying stages of development for fifteen years, before Coppola and Puzo finally signed on.
  • Executive Meddling: According to Coppola and Puzo, the film was meant to be titled The Death of Michael Corleone to highlight the fact that it did not follow on directly from Part II, but rather was meant to be "an epilogue." They were overruled, with executives saying "You can't make a Godfather movie without 'The Godfather' in the title!" This after Coppola had to demand the second film be titled The Godfather Part II instead of something else.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • Cuban American Andy García plays Italian American Vincent Mancini.
    • Eli Wallach and Mickey Knox of Jewish extraction, playing Italian Mob bosses Don Altobello and Matty Parisi, though the latter had been living and working in Italy for several decades at that point, and spoke the language fluently.
  • Looping Lines: Sofia Coppola had to redub about twenty percent of her original dialogue for the final cut after a disastrous early screening for the New York press on December 12, 1990, where many of the critics acrimoniously singled out her performance. According to an interview in Entertainment Weekly the following month, she said her greatest vocal challenges for the role were eschewing her "Valley Girl" accent, and correctly pronouncing the name "Corleone".
  • Money, Dear Boy:
    • People sometimes cite this trope as a reason the film sucked. However, the situations vary in one aspect: Coppola actually wanted to do Part I and Part II to secure money for his pet projects. He needed to make Part III after one of those said projects not only destroyed his own studio but left him bankrupt.
    • This was a big reason Robert Duvall didn't return. Pacino and Keaton alone demanded huge salaries to appear, and Duvall felt grifted. To paraphrase: "Al's the lead, so I accepted he was going to make more than me. But did he have to make twice as much?" Coppola, now without Auteur License, had to rewrite the screenplay and create the character B.J. Harrison as a stand-in.
  • Real-Life Relative: Director Francis Ford Coppola's daughter Sofia Coppola plays Mary Corleone.
  • Reality Subtext: Al Pacino and Diane Keaton had dated on and off for several years after making the first film together, ultimately breaking up for good when Keaton wanted a serious long-term relationship, and Pacino did not. This led to some friction when they first arrived on the set. Like their characters, they were able to get past the issues in their past. In real-life, however, it involved Keaton travelling back to New York City with Pacino for the funeral of his grandmother, who had died during production.
  • Refitted for Sequel: The shooting script for Part II included a scene with an older, diabetic Michael talking with an eighteen-year-old Anthony, but this scene was cut. The discarded scene also included Connie saying that Fredo drowned in the lake. These ideas were eventually used here.
  • Saved from Development Hell: Paramount tried to go ahead with a third film for many years without Francis Ford Coppola, who had refused to make another sequel. About twelve scripts were written. Most of the scripts included the Corleone family being led by Michael's son Anthony, battling the CIA, Fidel Castro's Cuban government, or South American drug cartels. A 1978 draft by Mario Puzo dealt with Anthony Corleone being recruited by the CIA to assassinate a Latin American dictator. Dean Riesner also wrote a draft based on Puzo's ideas. Drafts were also written by Paramount producers Michael Eisner and Don Simpson. The film was scheduled for a Christmas 1980 release date. These scripts were discarded when Coppola decided to work on the script with Puzo. But Coppola eventually abandoned the project. Puzo wrote another script in 1986 with producer Nicholas Gage that featured Sonny Corleone's illegitimate son Vincent Mancini while showing the early life of the young Sonny Corleone. Paramount considered Sidney Lumet, Costa-Gavras, Alan J. Pakula, Robert Benton, Michael Cimino and Michael Mann to direct. At one point, they were even close to signing Sylvester Stallone to direct and star in the film.
  • Sequel Gap: The film was released in 1990, 16 years after the previous installment.
  • Star-Derailing Role: Sofia Coppola isn't an actress by trade to begin with, and was a last minute replacement after Winona Ryder fell ill. However, her heavily criticized performance, as well as charges of nepotism, effectively ended her acting career. However, she has enjoyed much greater success following in her father's footsteps as a director in her own right.
  • Troubled Production:
    • The film had been in Development Hell for over a decade, with numerous scripts written throughout the '70s and '80s and other directors attached. Coppola repeatedly refused the project until financial woes forced him to take it. After accepting, Paramount gave Coppola and Mario Puzo just six weeks to write the script, and a hard year to complete filming. Coppola and Puzo initially wanted to call it The Death of Michael Corleone, emphasizing it was a standalone "epilogue" rather than a direct sequel. In an ironic reversal of Part II, Paramount insisted on the numbered title.
    • Again, the biggest problems involved the cast, who weren't any more eager than Coppola to revisit the franchise. Al Pacino and Diane Keaton both demanded massive salary hikes: Pacino initially demanded such an exorbitant amount that Coppola threatened to open the movie with Michael's funeral. Robert Duvall refused to return over a pay dispute, while Joe Spinell died just before filming started, forcing Coppola and Puzzo to create replacement characters. Most notoriously, Winona Ryder dropped out of the part of Mary at the last minute, forcing Sofia Coppola to step in, never mind how she allegedly REALLY didn't want to do it. Actual filming was relatively smooth, but media coverage of its behind-the-scenes turmoil lead to a massive backlash after its eventual release.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Originally, the script was to center around Michael and Tom, who was going to be an informant. However, Tom was written out when Robert Duvall demanded to be paid the same as, or marginally close to, the amount that Al Pacino was getting. This version was the only one to feature Michael dying in a car accident at the end of the film.
    • The original script had a different ending, in which Michael and Kay reconciled after the opera sequence. It dissolves to a church service, in which a gunman shoots Michael before getting shot, and it ends with Michael lying to Kay for the last time before he dies. Coppola decided against that, and opted for the ending in the film while keeping the gunman from the original. The ending which was filmed, was inspired by a real-life incident in which Sound Designer Richard Beggs lost his daughter to that similar circumstance.
    • Originally, Calo was to kill Don Lucchesi by snapping his neck and this was filmed. However, Coppola did not like how it looked, and decided to change it to a very bloody death, inspired by Akira Kurosawa's films.
    • Winona Ryder was supposed to play Mary but she opted to film Mermaids instead. Rebecca Schaeffer was also up for the part of Mary before she was murdered. Madonna lobbied for the role, even meeting with Coppola and De Niro, but she was deemed too old for the part. Julia Roberts turned it down in order to star in Pretty Woman.
    • Joe Spinell was originally supposed to reprise his role as Willi Cicci, in which he would have taken over the Corleones' New York operation, but Spinell died before production. Cicci's role in the story was replaced by new character Joey Zasa, played by Joe Mantegna.
    • Rocco Lampone was also featured in early drafts. It's unclear how the filmmakers would explain away Rocco getting killed in the closing minutes of Part II.
    • Coppola wanted to make a fourth movie written by Puzo with a similar layout to Part II, focusing on both the Corleones' rise to power under Vito and Sonny's leadership, and the present-day fall of the Corleone empire under Vincent, but many of the actors along with Paramount were disinterested and the project was abandoned after Puzo's death, though the unused screenplay was later made into a novel called "The Family Corleone" and Paramount did win back the rights in 2012 to make more films, so they could do an adaption of the novel if they wanted to.
    • Alec Baldwin, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Charlie Sheen, and Billy Zane were all considered to play Vincent Mancini.
    • Mickey Rourke was a candidate for Joey Zasa, but was deemed "not Italian enough". Dennis Farina and John Turturro were also considered. Sylvester Stallone was offered the role, but passed on it.
    • Albert Finney, Marcello Mastroianni, Philippe Noiret and Gian Maria Volonte; were considered for the role of Archbishop Liam Francis Gilday.
    • Diane Lane and Virginia Madsen were considered for Grace Hamilton.
    • According to Peter Biskind's book The Godfather Companion, a 1985 script co-written by Thomas Lee Wright and Nick Marino, included a character based on drug lord Leroy 'Nicky' Barnes. When the script was briefly considered, Wright persuaded Eddie Murphy to take the role. Murphy reportedly said, "I would act in The Godfather for nothing."
  • Working Title: Coppola wanted to call the movie The Death Of Michael Corleone but the studios nixed it. It might not be a big deal but it would probably have lessened the comparisons to the first two movies and made it clear it was an epilogue as Coppola intended. Also the title would have gotten audiences to expect Michael would be killed and made the ending where his daughter Mary is killed and instead and he actually dies years later a complete surprise.

The Game

  • Banned in China: The sequel is currently banned in the United Arab Emirates due to political tensions with Italy.
  • Disowned Adaptation: Francis Ford Coppola did not approve of the game, accusing its makers of profiteering off of his work.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Michael looks and sounds nothing like Al Pacino, as Pacino licensed his likeness exclusively to another company for the Scarface (1983) game.
    • Vito, on the other hand, does look and sound a lot like Marlon Brando, but his VA is actually an imitator, as Brando's health prevented him from recording all of his lines. The only place you actually hear Brando is in the hospital scene when he's talking to Michael, as Brando's respirator doesn't sound out of place.
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    • Rocco Lampone and Carmela Corleone do make brief appearances, but they are nothing like their movie characters, which suggests the estates of Tom Rosqui and Morgana King did not give permission for their likenesses to be used.
  • Prop Recycling: The Dodge Super Bee lookalike car in Godfather II is a retextured version of Carson Opus from Burnout Paradise.
  • The club the Falconite is based on the Ravenite club (which was also located on Mulberry Street) which was run by the Gambino Family and served as John Gotti's base of operation.


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