Move over, Tony Soprano: it turns out there was a time in American history before mob bosses had psychiatrists and houses in the suburbs and amusing dreams about strippers. The epic tale of the Corleone family took the world by storm in 1972, as the visceral family ties between Marlon Brando and Al Pacino threatened to leap right off the screen. Director Francis Ford Coppola takes seemingly simple themes - right and wrong, the American Dream, proper disposal of a horse head - and transforms them into a sweeping saga for the ages. Fun fact: Brando famously refused to accept his Academy Award for Best Actor, instead sending a woman dressed in Native American garb to the ceremony in his place.
Top 10 Fun Facts
- Despite the seriousness of the material, the set of The Godfather was filled with humor and crazy antics. Even legendary actor Marlon Brando channeled his inner child and partook in the juvenile antics by mooning passerbys.
- Actor Marlon Brando wore an appliance in his mouth to give him the bulldog look he adopted for The Godfather. You can see the mouthpiece that launch a thousand impersonations at the American Museum of Moving Image in Astoria, NY.
- Marlon Brando went down in infamy after winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Not because he won, but because he refused the award. Instead, he sent Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather to accept for him as a protest against the way Native American actors were treated in Hollywood.
- Marlon Brando was cash-strapped in 1971, which is the only reason he agreed to be in The Godfather. However, he got 5% of the movie's original $85 million gross, so I'd say his money problems were quickly solved. Good life decision, Brando.
- The Godfather spawned many famous lines but none more so than "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." The filmmakers did not make such offers to Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and Dustin Hoffman. They did refuse.
- Francis Ford Coppola tried to avoid nepotism - he originally didn't want his sister Talia Shire to audition. But he seemed to quickly overcome that concern when he later also casted his mother, father, two sons, and daughter.
- Oranges in The Godfather trilogy were used to foreshadow death-related events. The moral of the story was don't play with a bowl of oranges or you may end up with the head of your dead horse in your bed.
- John Marley's terrified scream at seeing the horse head in his bed was real. The filmmakers had replaced the fake horse's head they had used during rehearsals with a real horse's head without telling Marley. Don't worry though, no animals were harmed during the filming of this movie - they got the horse's head from a dog food factory. I really don't want to know what goes in that dog food.
- People were so excited for The Godfather that the filmmakers started planning the sequel while filming was still going on. Seems like they made the right call.
- Joe Colombo was a mafia crime boss when The Godfather was being made. He was so against the movie that he got his organization, The Italian-American Civil Rights League, to start a campaign against it. I guess he was afraid the movie might give away all his secrets...