How they shot The Godfather
December 7, 2008 9:02 AM   Subscribe

A really interesting commentary from Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, about how he came to write the book and how that book became one of the most iconic films in history. The post includes previously unseen (and illuminating) photos of the cast and the making of the film.
posted by theantikitty (24 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Caan's picture with the squibs is great. I'm going to rewatch that scene a few times and look for hints of the wires.
posted by Science! at 9:31 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great stuff (and the Mail too, that's a first)

Caan's picture with the squibs is great. I'm going to rewatch that scene a few times and look for hints of the wires.

There's an interesting bit on that buried down in the comments:

Those aren't explosive squibs on James Caan's face. It's too dangerous to use squibs on people's faces or over their hearts, which is why you rarely see an actor shot in the center of the chest in movies.

Instead of squibs they use red adhesive "dots" applied to the skin of the face and then covered over with flesh-colored material attached to clear nylon fishing line. You can see the dots on Caan's forehead very clearly.

When you yank on the fishing line, the flesh-colored material comes off, exposing the red dot, which then looks like a bullet hole.

They used squibs on his body, which is why you see no nylon lines running to his clothes.

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:40 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I learned an important lesson from that scene. Never pay a toll with a large bill.
posted by jonmc at 9:41 AM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Very good post. An inspiring read for struggling writers.
posted by scarello at 9:43 AM on December 7, 2008


fearfulsymmetry: "Caan's picture with the squibs is great. I'm going to rewatch that scene a few times and look for hints of the wires."

Whoa, thanks. I was actually wondering how they were set off with only a single wire. Turns out you just yank 'em.
posted by Science! at 9:56 AM on December 7, 2008




I was really hoping for an explanation of the deeply bizarre "plastic surgeon who meets a woman with a large vagina who could only be satisfied by Sonny because he was so well-endowed, but she is now depressed because Sonny and his endowment are dead, so the doctor performs an operation that resizes her vagina to custom-fit his own genitalia" subplot that somehow didn't make it into the movie.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:44 AM on December 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


That was a great read—thanks!
posted by languagehat at 10:45 AM on December 7, 2008


A few years back I read a book by Puzo that has all kinds of stories about the Godfather. The first book, The Godfather, has few side stories that didn't make it into the movie as Bookhouse mentioned earlier. There is one where he meets Sinatra through a friend, and Sinatra starts yelling at him in the middle of a night club. One concentrates on "the crooner" character which you see at the beginning of the movie, and apparently Sinatra believed this character to be based upon him. Puzo's reaction was more or less a shrug, "whatever", and walkaway.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:09 AM on December 7, 2008


Uhm..."The Godfather Papers" has the Sinatra story. "The Godfather" has the crooner sidestory.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:13 AM on December 7, 2008


The Sinatra story is in the linked article here.
posted by empath at 12:27 PM on December 7, 2008


Artist motivated by money... Kitten trapped in a tree... all this and more, tonight on the news at 11!
posted by Kiablokirk at 12:35 PM on December 7, 2008


This article is a slightly shorter version of the Godfather Papers story. Parts left out include Brando being interviewed for the part (he tucks cotton in his cheeks and becomes the character immediately) and the fight to include the parts about Sicily.
posted by CCBC at 12:41 PM on December 7, 2008


The Godfather Family Album [ILLUSTRATED] [SPECIAL EDITION] (Hardcover)
by Steve Schapiro (Author), Paul Duncan (Editor)

Price: $686.00



Yikes.


Great post. Too bad I can't afford the book! Seriously, who buys $700 picture books?
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:51 PM on December 7, 2008


Nice. WTF Sinatra?
posted by Phanx at 2:34 PM on December 7, 2008


the fight to include the parts about Sicily

They shouldn't have bothered, that bit brings the movie to a dead stop.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:05 PM on December 7, 2008


Bloody hell, something worth reading in the Daily Mail. Truly a sign of the End Times.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:11 PM on December 7, 2008


The Sinatra story is in the linked article here.

Or...yeah, I could've read the article first. The article is an excerpt from the book I linked to.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:31 PM on December 7, 2008


Seriously, who buys $700 picture books?

Crazy rich fucks. At my store we have it on sale for a little less. People buy it just to be the ones who bought it.
posted by jonmc at 6:02 PM on December 7, 2008


"Caan's picture with the squibs is great."

Yeah, I knew spider man was in on the hit.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:29 PM on December 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Alvy: that bit brings the movie to a dead stop.
Puzo claims the Sicilian scenes "made the movie". (But I respect your opinion.)
posted by CCBC at 12:27 PM on December 8, 2008


CCBC: I really dislike it, it feels really unnecessary and forced. That we see Michael find his true love and then lose her in the span of five minutes takes the oomph out of the later bits with Kay. Reading up on it yesterday, it turns out there was a scene wherein he avenges his wife that was cut; if they had kept it in, and perhaps expanded the interlude so that I actually cared about the Sicilian wife maybe the it wouldn't seem like such a lead weight. I get that time was undoubtedly a factor, but why keep it in if they couldn't do it justice?

It's sort of like Hamlet's bit with the pirates - sure it would be neat to see, but what matters more is how he acts after the experience. I think it would have worked better if they had dropped the interlude and used the cut scene - the contrast between the nervous kid who turns fugitive after nearly botching the hit on Sollozzo and McCluskey and the hardened man returned from Sicily who coldly shotguns his treacherous former bodyguard would be far more effective.

As it is, it's basically the Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head scene from Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, but with a carbomb instead of a bicycle.

Actually it sounds sort of cool put that way.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:31 PM on December 8, 2008




Alvy: I'm not going to do a full defense here because I, also, when I first saw the picture, felt a disconnect when the Godfather shifted to Sicily. But, speaking for the dead, Puzo didn't want Micheal's romance so much as he wanted to show the peasant Mafia -- the shotguns, the poverty, the local boss (Godfather II wasn't an idea yet.) And, whether properly done or not, it does mark a different man returning to NY.
posted by CCBC at 2:49 AM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


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