Thursday, March 15, 2012

3-15-12 The Godfather's 40th

I believe in America.

And so began, 40 years ago today, or at least this week, the opening of one of the most memorable films in history.

Time Magazine heralds today, the 15th, as the opening day of The Godfather in 1972. IMDB marks it on March 19.

Some of my favorite Godfather Trivia for you on this auspicious anniversary:

1. That is a real horse head in Woltz's bed. Um, ewwwww. Oh, and the actor who played Woltz didn't know it until he saw it in the scene for the first time. That scream isn't just acting.

2. Luca Brasi was a real mobster's enforcer, not an actor. Lenny Montana was spotted on set guarding his boss (Joe Columbo, with whom the film made certain "concessions") and immediately cast in the role of Luca. The stumble of his "thank you" to the Don was because Lenny was so nervous to be in a scene with Brando. Coppola filmed another scene after that showing him practicing and messing up the lines to himself in anticipation. And since Montana was a former wrestler, he was also able to make those great faces when Sollozzo has him garrotted.

3. That cat in the opening scene was just a stray hanging around the set that Coppola picked up and and handed to Brando on a whim. His loud adorable purring resulted in extensive re-dubbing of Brando's lines in the scene.

4. Al Pacino's getaway from Louis' diner in the Bronz after he's killed Sollozzo and McCluskey hobbled him badly. The scene is very dark, but he jumps on to the car's running board and twists the heck out of his ankle in the take. For weeks after that, he used a cane, which you see James Caan toying with during the study scene (in which it is decided that Michael will take out Sollozzo).

5. 62 scenes in the film revolve around food. Clemenza's "take the cannoli," however, was never in the script, but ad-libbed on the spot. In fact, many different moments in the film were genuinely unexpected, from Brando's slapping Johnny Fontaine in the "be a man!" scene, to James Caan throwing the (shocked) photographer to the ground at Connie's wedding.

6. Film notes: in the scene where Clemenza is teaching Michael to cook, Coppola wrote, "Clemenza browns the sausage" which Mario Puzo crossed out and replaced with "fries the sausage" and the explanatory note to the side, "Gangsters don't 'brown.'"

But they might eat horse head cake...

Buon anniversario! Auguri!


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