The Making of The Godfather

Long, informative profile on the making of The Godfather. Can you believe I’ve never seen it? Here’s what struck me:

Brando got the role, over the objections of almost everyone, by nailing his screen test.

Brando emerged from his bedroom in a kimono, with his long blond hair in a ponytail. As Coppola watched through the camera lens, Brando began a startling transformation, which he had worked out earlier in front of a mirror. In Coppola’s words, “You see him roll up his hair in a bun and blacken it with shoe polish, talking all the time about what he’s doing. You see him rolling up Kleenex and stuffing it into his mouth. He’d decided that the Godfather had been shot in the throat at one time, so he starts to speak funny. Then he takes a jacket and rolls back the collar the way these Mafia guys do.” Brando explained, “It’s the face of a bulldog: mean-looking but warm underneath.”

In meeting their idol, Robert Duvall and James Caan were moved to…moon him?

Driving down Second Avenue after dinner, Caan and Duvall pulled up beside the car in which Brando was riding. “Come on,” Duvall said, “moon him!”

“I go, ‘Are you crazy? I don’t do that. You’re the king of that,’” says Caan. “But he says, ‘You’ve got to do this.’ So I roll my window down, and I just stick my ass out. Brando’s falling down. And we went away crying laughing. So that was the first moon of my life, to Brando, and it was on the first day we met. But Brando won the belt. We had a belt made, mighty moon champion, after he mooned 500 extras one day.”

Of the iconic voice he used in the movie, Brando said, “Powerful people don’t need to shout.”

Lastly, Caan’s take on Sonny was inspired by none other than Don Rickles.

The Making of The Godfather

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