Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli: The Epic Story of the Making of The Godfather

Gallery. Oct. 2021. 448p. ISBN 9781982158590. $28.99. FILM
Expanding his 2009 Vanity Fair feature on The Godfather, Seal has crafted a comprehensive history of both the novel and the film. He describes how, as a struggling writer, Mario Puzo was captivated by the 1963 U.S. Senate hearings on organized crime; in 1969 Puzo published The Godfather, and Paramount quickly obtained film rights. Seal presents detailed portraits of the major players, including producer Albert Ruddy, studio head Robert Evans, and writer/director Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola was initially uninterested in the project, but his directorial vision and insistence on casting Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Marlon Brando prove he was the driving force behind the film. Coppola was dogged by a battle with the Italian American Civil Rights League and its founder, mobster Joe Colombo, who initially believed the film would stereotype Italian Americans, but once the studio agreed not to use the term mafia in the film, Colombo relented. The book is so detailed that Seal doesn’t discuss filming until 200 pages in. The key elements of the narrative, unsurprisingly, are Puzo and Coppola, and based on Seal’s depiction, a strong case could be made for a biopic about Puzo’s Godfather journey.
VERDICT Combining extensive research with insightful new interviews, this chronicle of The Godfather could be the definitive look at the making of an American classic.
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