‘The Godfather Trilogy’ is one of the most Iconic movies ever made, and ‘The Godfather I’ is constantly rated as one of the best films ever made, and what most people don’t know is that this classic masterpiece was almost cancelled and never produced due to both the Hollywood film studios and their politics and the Mafia learning about this film that would bring light to the Mob’s existence which they never wanted.
It was the beginning of a period that brought the forceful personalities behind ‘The Godfather’ uncomfortably close to the dangerous men they were depicting. Forty years, $268M at the box office and three Academy Awards later it’s incredible to think that, had it not been for a few dramatic interventions, one of cinema’s greatest films might never have been made.
THE MOB PRESSURE: Four decades after it was released, this operatic story of family, crime and equine decapitation is an untouchable classic, rated third (behind ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Citizen Kane’) in the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Films Of All Time, and rightly regarded as the pinnacle of modern filmmaking.
“Before ‘The Godfather’ started filming, Italian-American civil-rights groups had no heft or muscle at all,” says Santopietro. “Then, all of a sudden, the protests took on a life of their own and thousands of people joined.”
But what began with peaceful protest — including a rally at New York’s Madison Square Garden that raised $500,000 to halt production — soon became a Corleone-style campaign of intimidation.
Colombo, despite his status as a Mafia don and former contract killer, projected a wholesome image of lectern-clutching respectability. But those connected to his crime family embarked on a campaign of intimidation of which the Corleones would have been proud.
Bomb scares saw Paramount’s New York offices in the Gulf + Western Building evacuated twice. Then Al Ruddy, after a series of threatening phone calls and an LAPD tip-off, made the decision that left him with a hefty bill from his mechanic.
With celebrities intimidating cast members, Mob-controlled unions refusing to allow filming and Paramount staff living in fear, something had to be done. It was time for Hollywood’s elite to swallow their pride, say a few private prayers and meet the Mob. Unbowed by the numerous threats he’d received, Al Ruddy invited Joe Colombo and two broad-shouldered associates to his East Coast office to broker a deal.