10 things you didn't know about the Godfather

2017-02-17 22:01

Cape Town – The Godfather trilogy is one of the most successful film franchises of our time, an icon in the gangster genre.

The series raked in over $550m at the box office and garnered 29 Academy Award nominations, winning nine in total.

And now you can relive the rise and fall of the Corleone family as the trilogy comes to ShowMax.

Here are 10 things you didn't know about the series:

1. Coppola’s Italian roots made him perfect for the job.

Francis Ford Coppola wasn't the first choice to direct the film. The script was first offered to a number of other directors including Elia Kazan, Arthur Penn, Costa-Gravas and Richard Brooks. Paramount finally decided on Coppola because of his Italian heritage. 

2. Marlon Brando was a big no. 

Because of his difficult reputation, the studio refused to consider Brando for the role. After persuasion from Coppola and the author Mario Puzo, they agreed to hire him if he did a screen test and if he worked for a percentage of the profits instead of a salary. 

3. Al Pacino was scouted in a Broadway play.

After seeing Al Pacino on stage, Coppola knew he had found Michael Corleone. But Pacino, who didn’t have much experience at the time, failed his screen test. The studios wanted a big name like Jack Nicholson or Warren Beatty instead. Pacino eventually got the role as filming dates drew near and the studio ran out of options.

4. It wasn't a big payday for the leads.

Breakout stars Al Pacino, James Caan and Diane Keaton earned only US$35 000 for the first movie. 

5. It became a Coppola family affair.

Francis cast his family members as extras and in key roles. His sister Talia Shire played Connie Corleone throughout the trilogy. She was nominated for an Academy Award. His mother Italia Coppola played an extra during a restaurant meeting, and his father Carmine Coppola was the pianist in the famous mattress sequence. His daughter Sofia made her first appearance as baby Michael Rizzi. She later went on to play an immigrant child in Part II and then Mary Corleone in Part III. Her brothers Gian-Carlo Coppola and Roman Coppola also appeared as extras. 

6. Big-name Hollywood A-listers got rejected.

Sylvester Stallone, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro auditioned for roles but didn't make the cut. De Niro did land a role in the sequel. 

See De Niro's audition here:

7. Brando borrowed a real mobster’s voice.

The voice Marlon Brando used for his character was inspired by real-life mobster Frank Costello. He imitated his voice after seeing a recording of Costello on trial.

Watch it here: 

8. Pacino and Brando caused drama at the Oscars.

Pacino boycotted the Academy Awards because he was nominated for a supporting role, while Brando, who had less screen time than he did, was up for Best Actor. 

Brando went on to win but did not attend the ceremony. He sent Sacheen Littlefeather on his behalf, who rejected the award on the grounds of the treatment of American Indians in the film industry.

Watch it here: 

9. Godfather II was the first sequel ever to win Best Picture.

It was also the only sequel to hold this title for 29 years, until Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King won the award in 2003. 

10. It features one of the Top 100 Movie Quotes.

The line, "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse" is number 2 on the American Film Institute's Top 100 Movie Quotes list. 

See the scene here:

Watch all three instalments of the Godfather trilogy on ShowMax now by signing up for your 14-day free trial »

(Photos: Getty Images)

(Sources: IMDb, ShortList)

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