47 Facts About The Godfather: Is It A True Story? Learn About It

Abhijeet Modi
Oct 20, 2023 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Mar 22, 2022
Facts about 'The Godfather' that are bound to surprise you.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.3 Min

The masterpiece of Francis Ford Coppola which is based on Mario Puzo's novel of 1969 is the greatest hit of all time.

This movie is packed with stars like Marlon Brando, James Caan, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, and Robert Duvall. After the enormous success, two sequels were made.

'The Godfather' is a chronicle that revolves around the Corleone family under Vito Corleone. In this movie, the lead character Vito Corleone is played by Marlon Brando. The movie depicts his journey from being an Italian immigrant to The Godfather, followed by his son Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, who succeeds him.

The right to this book was bought by Paramount Pictures at $80,000. This movie worked like a stimulus as it enabled fast-tracking the careers of the actors who were a part of this film. This movie doesn't only give a glimpse of the ruthless world of the mafia but an insight into the personal life of mobsters. First premiered on March 14, 1972, at the Loew's State Theater, 'The Godfather' set a new benchmark in the world of cinema.

Plot & Cast

Both casting and plot play an integral role in any movie. Casting for 'The Godfather' was not an easy task as the best actors auditioned for the roles.

 In the opening scene of The Godfather, Vito Corleone is shown holding a stray cat. This scene was not involved in the original script, but it is contemplated as one of the best scenes in the entire movie.

For the role of Vito Corleone, Paramount did not want to go for Marlon Brando. Instead, the studio urged the director to cast Laurence Oliver for the role.

However, Marlon was given three conditions before he was cast for this role which were; Marlon Brando had to appear for a screen test, Brand had to put up a bond personally to make up for any possible losses on the set, and thirdly, he has to do the movie for free.

When Marlon Brando received the Academy Award for Best Actor he didn’t accept it, instead, Sacheen Littlefeather took the stage and delivered a speech explaining why the award was declined by Brando Marlo. The reason was the ill-treatment of Native Americans in television and movies.

Al Pacino was not the initial choice for the role of Michael. The studio wanted this role to be played by Ryan O’Neal or Robert Redford. However, Coppola preferred Al Pacino for this role.

James Caan who played the role of Sonny in the film was also screen-tested for Michael.

There is a scene in 'The Godfather' where James Caan, Sonny, is shown grabbing the camera of an FBI agent who was taking pictures of the family and smashing it on the ground. This specific scene was completely improvised by James Caan.

Even before Mario Puzo finished writing his book he sold the manuscript’s rights to Robert Evans of Paramount.

Francis Ford Coppola shot an unofficial personal screentest at his own house with Robert Duvall, James Caan, and Al Pacino.

Robert Duvall, James Caan, and Brando throughout the entire shooting process, tried to out-moon each other.

Robert De Niro initially auditioned for the character of Sonny. However, the director felt that it wouldn't match his personality, so Robert De Niro played the role of young Vito Corleone.

Robert De Niro won the Academy Award for the best supporting actor for his role of young Vito Corleone in the sequel 'Godfather II'.

Commercial Aspects

'The Godfather' had a budget of $6-$7.2 million dollars. However, after its release, the response was overwhelming, making it a massive hit and a landmark in cinema.

'The Godfather' was the highest-grossing movie of 1972.

There was a collection of $57,829 on an opening day from just theaters.

The ticket price of the movie was hiked from $3-$3.50.

However, In New York, the price hike was even higher. It was $4 during the weekends.

To meet demand, the number of shows was increased from four to seven times a day.

At the opening weekend, the movie grossed $240,780 in New York and $61,615 in Toronto.

The movie grossed $454,000 in New York and $115,000 in Toronto for the entire week. This put 'The Godfather' on the top for a week at the U.S. Box Office.

'The Godfather' was number one for 18 weeks consecutively and reached a milestone of $101 million.

In the United States and Canada, this movie earned $81.5 million just through theatrical rentals.

'Gone With The Wind' was replaced by 'The Godfather' which claimed the record of top rentals.

According to Los Angeles Times article, the profit from this movie was so impressive that the share of Paramount leapt from 77 cents to $3.30 per share.

Since 1997, 'The Godfather' was re-released five more times which grossed between $246-$287 million at the Worldwide Box Office.

Cultural Influence And Legacy

A movie is closely rooted in cultural perspectives and customs. Through movies, a filmmaker can use it as a device to address certain issues or to influence the cultural behavior of people to the issues.

Although Don Corleone is portrayed as a mobster, he is also depicted as a person with psychological complexity and a depth that was unprecedented.

The film was successful in every way be it artistically, financially, or critically, so Coppola made a sequel to this movie, 'The Godfather II'.

A study conducted by the Italic Institute of America shows that after the release of 'The Godfather', between 1996-2001, almost 300 movies were made portraying Italian Americans as mobsters.

'The Godfather' trilogy with its original story and additional footage by Coppola became integrated into the life of Americans.

No other movie before 'The Godfather' had exhibited poor Italian immigrants of the early 20th century in such a way, and the credit goes to Coppola.

The Italian-American Civil Rights League arranged a protest during the making of this film as they might only enhance the ‘Italian equals mobster’ kind of stereotype.

According to a report made by the Italic Institute of America, it was illustrated that only 0.00782% of Italian-Americans had an alliance with the criminals yet 74% of Americans believed that Italian-Americans had ties with criminals.

The line of the movie when Don Corleone says 'I'll make him an offer he can't refuse' is contemplated as the second most memorable line according to the AFI in 2014.

This movie was later parodied in numerous types of media, such as 'The Freshman', 'Saturday Night Live', and 'The Simpsons'.

A video game in 2006 was released that was based on the story and the characters of the film.

'The Godfather' became an inspiration to various modern organized crime series such as ‘The Sopranos’.

This movie received several significant awards.

Did You Know?

You may have watched 'The Godfather' and it may well be your favorite movie, but did you know these amazing facts?

Frank Sinatra has the assumption that the role of Johnny Fontane was established on him, as there have been rumors that Sinatra utilized his mafia connections to become an actor after being a singer.

While Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty auditioned for the role of Michael in this film, it was Al Pacino who bagged this role.

Martin Sheen was also tested for the role of Michael.

Diane Keaton, James Cann, and Al Pacino were paid $35,000 for their roles in this movie.

In this movie, Luca Brasi can be seen acting nervously around Marlon Brando, his nervousness and fumbling were real as Luca Brasi was starstruck while working with Brando.

The actress who played the role of Corleone’s daughter was Talia Shire who happens to be Coppola’s sister. Although this was her first movie she was nominated for Academy Awards.

The depiction of events in 'The Godfather' saga is in chronological order as it begins with Vito Corleone’s boyhood in Italy.

Not everyone who acted in the film was an actor, as Gianni Russo who played the character of Carlo Rizzi, was actually a part of a mob organization, the Mafia Frank Costello.

Initially, 'The Godfather' was planned as a low-budget movie and the script was to be directed by Sergio Leone.

Laurence Olivier was considered for the role of Vito Corleone.

For the final film, Coppola wrote a letter to Puzo where the character of Don Altobello was offered to Sinatra but he turned down the offer due to his low salary proposal and his busy schedule.

Before Francis Coppola was signed up for the direction of the movie Paramount had other directors like Arthur Penn, Elia Kazan, Costa-Gavras, and Richard Brook in their mind.


Q: Why is the Godfather's mouth like that?

A: To create an appearance of a bulldog jaw, Brando during his audition put cotton balls in his mouth, but during the shoot, a customized jaw was made with a dental appliance.

Q: Is 'The Godfather' a true story?

A: The characters in the movie are inspired by real-life characters like mob moss Frank Costello and Jae Profaci. Similarly, the character of Michael was inspired by Salvatore Bonano. This movie is a cinematic adaptation of the book by Mario Puzo.

Q: Who played the Godfather?

A: The character of Godfather or Vito Corleone is played by Marlon Brando in the movie, and the young Vito Corleone is played by De Niro.

Q: Who directed 'The Godfather'?

A: Francis Ford Coppola directed 'The Godfather'.

Q: How old was Marlon Brando while filming?

A: Marlon Brando was 47 years old in 'The Godfather'.

Q: How long did it take to film the movie?

A: It took 62 days to shoot the film.

Q: When were 'The Godfather' movies made?

A: 'The Godfather' was released on March 24, 1972, and the sequels 'The Godfather II' and 'The Godfather III' were released on December 20, 1974, and December 25, 1990, respectively.

Q: How old is 'The Godfather'?

A: The movie turned 49 years old in 2021.

Q: How many movies are there?

A: 'The Godfather' is a trilogy.

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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

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Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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