The Godfather: Behind the Scenes & Facts

The Godfather is just one of the most legendary movies ever made and here is a list of the most interesting behind-the-scenes moments and facts

Francis Ford Coppola wasn’t the first choice of director and nearly got fired several times during filming

Noteworthy directors Elia Kazan, Arthur Penn, Peter Yates, Costa-Gavras, Sergio Leone, Otto Preminger, Franklin J. Schaffner, and Richard Brooks were all considered and declined the job before Paramount executives picked Francis Ford Coppola.

Things didn’t come easily for Coppola after this though. Although he co-wrote the screenplay, executives took issue with many of his casting decisions and stylistic choices. With rumors swirling that he’d be fired, Coppola took it upon himself to fire his assistant director and reshoot scenes that executives were unhappy with, according to Time. His masterpiece was then finally understood.

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Robert Evans didn’t want Al Pacino in the film

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The cast had a family dinner before filming to get their characters right

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The cat in the opening scene was a last-minute addition

“That was the studio cat. One take, only one take,” revealed Coppola. The cat looks very relaxed with Brando and even lies on the table when he puts him there. “Brando had a wonderful way with children and animals. He loved them.”

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“Leave the gun, take the cannoli” is one of the movie’s most famous lines, but it was improvised

Based on the original script, Richard S. Castellano, who played Clemenza, was only supposed to say, “Leave the gun,” after he killed Paulie. But Castellano’s wife, actress Ardell Sheridan, suggested he add, “Take the cannoli.” It referred to an earlier scene in which his character was asked to pick up dessert. When Castellano added the line, Coppola decided to leave it in the film, and it has become one of the most famous lines from the movie.

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Richard S. Castellano played a supporting role yet was the highest-paid actor in the film

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A mob fixer reportedly helped Pacino do the movie

Pacino was signed to The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, which could have prevented him from doing The Godfather. The talk’s moderator, Taylor Hackford, claimed that Evans got a mob fixer who was also a lawyer to get Pacino out of the contract. It worked and he was able to do the movie.

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Stanley Kubrick thought the film had the best cast ever and could be the best movie ever made

The infamous horse’s head was real

While movie executives urged Coppola to use a prop, the director was unsatisfied and had crew find a horse ready for slaughter in New Jersey. “One day, a crate with dry ice came with this horse’s head in it,” Coppola remembered. Since a prop was used during rehearsals, actor John Marley’s genuine screams at the surprising switch were included in the film.

The studio didn’t want to cast Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone, but then they saw his legendary screen test where he stuffed his mouth with Kleenex

The longstanding belief that Brando stuffed cotton balls in his mouth while filming is a myth

While Brando stuffed his mouth with Kleenex for his screen test, he didn’t use this technique while filming. A dentist created a custom mouthpiece for the actor that helped give the same effect of protruding cheek jowls.

Al Pacino’s maternal grandparents immigrated to America from Corleone, Sicily, just as Vito Corleone had

James Caan hung out with various disreputable characters, in order to better understand the underworld lifestyle

After Marlon Brando’s death, his own annotated script for the film fetched $12,800 at a New York City auction, the highest amount ever paid for a film script