(My all-time second favourite director) Stanley Kubrick believed that this movie I’m (NOT) going to talk about was possibly the greatest movie ever made, and had without question the best cast. Also, real-life gangsters responded enthusiastically to this film; the former underboss in the Gambino crime family stated: “I left the movie stunned… I mean I floated out of the theater. Maybe it was fiction, but for me, then, that was our life. It was incredible. I remember talking to a multitude of guys, made guys, who felt exactly the same way.”
You may have figured out what movie I’m pointing at. Yes, you’ve got it right: I’ve just re-seen the slickest movie on earth and the masterpiece that almost wasn’t. The Godfather.
But I don’t want to discuss the movie, I want to discuss something else: the reason why this movie almost wasn’t and also Francis Ford Coppola’s incredible spine, guts and talent-flair.
So, you know why The Godfather almost wasn’t? Well, first of all I think you’re aware of the fact that Paramount Pictures gave Coppola a shameless low budget to make this movie.
Second: Ford Coppola’s first casting choice was Marlon Brando, but Paramount wouldn’t let him cast Brando. Coppola was even told by the president of Paramount that “Brando will never appear in this motion picture”; despite that, Coppola’s final choice was still Brando, choice which made him very unpopular with studio executives at Paramount. Brando later won an Academy Award for his portrayal. Which he refused to accept. : )
Third: Paramount also wouldn’t let Coppola cast Al Pacino, who was not well known at the time, having appeared in only two minor films. For this reason and also because of his height, the studio did not consider him right for the part. Pacino was given the role only after Coppola threatened the studio executives at Paramount to quit the production.
Moreover, a then-unknown Robert de Niro auditioned for a role. Paramount wouldn’t want De Niro either. Thanks to Coppola’s flair, De Niro was given a role and later played the young Vito Corleone in Part II, winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the role.
I wonder how many film directors, managers and executives would have today the nerve and the spine to stick to their choices no matter what. I wonder how many film directors, managers and executives would fight today in order to give Pacino, Brando and De Niro the chance to make history. I wonder how many film directors, managers and executives would have today the guts to refuse whoring for money (excuse my pleonasm but it undersores perfectly the idea). So, how many directors, managers and executives nowadays are not just gold digging whores, willing to trade their heroes for ghosts (yes, Pink Floyd fan), willing to trade the things they believe in for money? How many would still be (amazing wonderful) stubborn bastards – as Coppola was – when it comes to fight for the ideas/people they believe in? I think very few. And that’s incredibly sad.
For that: I take a bow, Mr. Coppola. Probably the slickest movie director on earth.
I’m sorry the trailer doesn’t do it justice, but trust me, it’s one of those movies that worth a second, a third, fourth and even fifth watching. Marlon Brando, the young Al Pacino & Ford Coppola together, what a hell of an incredible epic 🙂 trio, my heart’s absolutely pounding.