The Godfather to this day is thought to be one of the greatest films ever made. The movie has stood the test of time and made many a star from its debut. Behind this great movie is a story that is just as interesting about an uphill climb to get made that stems all the way back to the author of the book the story was based on.
The author of the book, Mario Puzo, had his fair share of struggles early on in his career until he found success with The Godfather. The novel spent over 60 weeks on the best sellers list in the 1970s and was quickly picked up by Paramount Pictures to be made into a film. The studio did not do the producer, Albert Ruddy, any favors by initially only provide a $2 million budget to make the film. This caused Ruddy to have quite a difficult time to find a director, even getting turned down by its eventual director Francis Ford Coppola when first approached. It wasn’t until the struggles Coppola faced by the newly founded film company that he decided to give The Godfather a more thorough read through. Upon finishing the novel, Coppola had decided that focusing on the characters could make this a truly great film.
It was that passion showed by Coppola during a meeting with Paramount that swayed the company to increase the budget to over $6 million and make it their staple film for 1971. With so much tied up into the film, Paramount was very involved with who they thought should play the roles of the main characters. While Puzo and Coppola were set on having actor Marlon Brando play the role of Don Corleone, the production company knew the actor was famous for being difficult to work with. After some pleading by the author and director, terms were agreed upon by both sides to move forward with Brando delivering one of the greatest roles of his career. The difficulties didn’t end there; Al Pacino, a rising star at the time, was also desired by Coppola to play Michael Corleone but not by Paramount. It is thanks to the persistence of the director that Pacino was cast to play the role that shot him to stardom.
Aside from the internal issues with the studio, the film also found itself at odds with the actual Mafia. They had an issue with negative connotations associated with portraying the Italian-Americans as gangsters in the film and verbiage that would be used. Ruddy himself met with ahead of one of the “five families” to ensure that it would be made without discrimination.
Through struggles from conception, to production and all the way to filming The Godfather survived and has been a classic since its release. It was the first movie to earn over $1 million in a day. From trials to triumph, the film has stood the test of time to remain a modern classic.