An intense page from Coppola’s ‘Godfather’ Notebook. This is an amazing example of the intensity Francis Ford Coppola once brought to his films.
A fascinating article from the March 2009 issue of Vanity Fair describes how The Godfather got made, even though the producers, the real-life Mafia, Frank Sinatra, and Paramount executives all fought against it.
One of the most quoted lines from Puzo’s novel never made it to the screen: “A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.” Before his death, in 1999, Puzo said in a symposium, “I think the movie business is far more crooked than Vegas, and, I was going to say, than the Mafia.” By the time The Godfather had begun production, Mob lawyers and business operatives were walking down the hallways of Gulf & Western together. Unbeknownst to the moviemakers, Charlie Bluhdorn was even doing business with a shadowy Sicilian named Michele Sindona, a money-launderer and adviser to the Gambino and other Mob families as well as to the Vatican Bank, in Rome (elements that Coppola would use in plotting The Godfather: Part III). In 1970, the year The Godfather began production at Paramount, Bluhdorn made a deal with Sindona that resulted in the mobster’s construction and real-estate company’s owning a major share of the Paramount lot. In 1980, Sindona was convicted on 65 counts, including fraud and perjury. Four years later he was extradited to Italy and found guilty of ordering a murder. In his Milan jail cell, he swallowed—or got fed—a lethal dose of cyanide, the prescription favored by the Mob to silence stool pigeons.
The Mob and the moviemakers had been acting in unison all along.
Get this. Google Books is hosting a digital archive of the first 30 years of New York Magazine (1968 through 1997). Amongst this bewildering wilderness of magazines is a real treasure - an August 21, 1972, article written by Mario Puzo on his experience writing the novel and the screenplay for The Godfather. Yeah, baby!
It’s a great article, too. First, you gotta go here, which will take you to the contents page. In the upper left-hand corner you’ll see the little summary of the Puzo article and above that, you’ll see “page 22.” That’s a link. Click that, and it’ll take you to the article. (source: Mario Puzo Speaks from the Grave!)