The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay (50th Anniversary Edition) By Jenny M. Jones

The Annotated Godfather

Around this time exactly 50 years ago, one of the greatest movies of all time was released to an unsuspecting movie going public: the film adaptation of Mario Puzo’s best selling novel The Godfather.

Somehow, through a lot of skepticism and reluctant feelings on behalf of Paramount Pictures, the project almost never got off the ground. First of all, Paramount was reluctant to pick up the option for The Godfather because previous gangster pictures produced by the studio flopped at the box office (however, they changed their minds when the book became a blockbuster best seller and sold over a million copies); a total of 12 directors rejected the prospect of working on the movie, even Francis Ford Coppola; however, Paramount originally didn’t want Coppola because of his lackluster track record as a director (i.e., Finian’s Rainbow and The Rain People); the majority of the cast were made up of unknowns, except for Marlon Brando, who was experiencing a number of flops at the time (i.e., Burn!, A Countess from Hong Kong, and Candy, to name a few); and Italian-American community groups across the country were protesting the making of the movie, because of its characterizations of Italian-Americans and their culture.

The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay
The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay

All those negative factors notwithstanding, the movie got made and is now a pop culture icon and a recognized classic in movie history.

In 2007, movie book author Jenny M. Jones published The Annotated Godfather, a fact-filled, lavishly illustrated book with the complete shooting script (the third draft written by Coppola and Puzo) as its nucleus. And for the movie’s golden anniversary, the book has been reissued (with a new foreword by Coppola), yet it has not lost its lustre

This book is a must-have for your Godfather library, whether you have read the novel, seen the movie dozens of times or both. Not only does it include rare behind the scenes photos, plenty of unknown production facts regarding the making of the movie, it also includes dialogue from scenes that were deleted from the original 1972 movie, but were later used for The Godfather Saga when it aired on NBC in 1977.

Al Pacino – The Godfather

But it’s the factoids that are included in the margins of the book that makes it stand out for The Godfather’s millions of fans. For example, how the scene that involved the horse’s head in movie mogul Jack Woltz’s bed was done (the head was real, it was obtained from a plant that manufactured dog food; the blood was Karo syrup); the mechanics behind the scene when Sonny Corleone was machine gun massacred by the Barzini family at the causeway toll booth (it was done in one take at a cost of $100,000 — in 1972 dollars — and sacrificed an actual 1941 Lincoln Continental with 200 bullet holes drilled into it and filled with explosive charges); the significance behind the oranges that were used as props throughout the movie, which many believed it symbolized an impending death to a certain character (Coppola said the oranges reminded him of Sicily, and was used as a colorful contrast to the somber and ochre tones that were used throughout most of its scenes);  Marlon Brando’s penchant for practical jokes, which was epitomized with the scene when Don Corleone returns home from the hospital and is carried up to his room on a stretcher. Before it was filmed, Brando loaded it up with sandbags and the total weight of the stretcher with him and the sandbags totaled over 500 pounds; and most significantly, the word “mafia” was never used in the entire movie and was not found at all in the script.

As well, the book includes the complete closing credits (both in front of and behind the camera), a list of every award and honor the movie has received since 1972, and an index of every immortal line of dialogue from the movie.

So let this fascinating book that is the 50th anniversary edition of The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay be your Godfather bible, because if you don’t, expect a visit from Luca Brasi (when he’s not sleeping with the fishes, of course).

Stuart Nulman
By: Stuart Nulman – [email protected]

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