Early in The Godfather‘s filming schedule, editor Aram Avakian, who had co-directed the groundbreaking 1960 concert film Jazz on a Summer’s Day, became displeased with Francis Ford Coppola’s work. He let the studio know about it. In his memoir Infamous Players, Paramount exec Peter Bart recalled, “To my astonishment, [exec Jack] Ballard announced on a conference call that Coppola ‘wasn’t up to the job,’ that he wanted to designate Aram Avakian, the editor, as the new director. [Producer] Al Ruddy had warned me that Avakian had been hovering around Ballard in a conspiratorial manner and that something dire was afoot.” Both Coppola and Paramount head of production Robert Evans claim to have fired Avakian following this turn of events. Coppola (seen above with Brando, out of makeup) brought in two editors to work on the film — Peter Zinner, who worked on the second half, and William H. Reynolds, who worked on the first.
The Anniversary You Can’t Refuse: 40 Things You Didn’t Know About The Godfather
On March 15, 1972, The Godfather hit movie screens. In the four decades since, it has become acknowledged as one of the greatest movies of all time. TIME has compiled the most interesting stories, anecdotes and tidbits from the film's production
A Palace Coup
The Corleones at 40
- The Cat
- George Lucas Shot Some Footage
- That Opening Shot
- The Alternate Ending
- It Was Initially Set in the 1970s
- The Horse Head
- Coppola Wasn’t the First Choice
- There Was Originally a Different First Scene
- Very Few People Wanted Al Pacino for Michael
- Burt Lancaster as the Don?
- Brando Was Almost a No-Go
- Until His Incredible Screen Test
- Who Is This Coppola Guy?
- A Palace Coup
- The Prince of Darkness
- There Are Very Few Unorthodox Camera Shots
- Kay and the Wig
- Brando and the Cue Cards
- Pacino Hurt Himself Early in the Shoot
- Everyone Wanted to Know What Brando Looked like as the Don
- Luca Brasi Fumbles His Lines
- Lots of Bare Butt Cheeks
- What’s with All the Oranges?
- Marlon Brando Was a Real Prankster
- Luca Brasi Was a Pro at Dying
- Offensive to Italians?
- What’s the Mob?
- The Succession Scene Needed a Major Rewrite
- Death by a Thousand Bullets
- A Too-Realistic Fight
- Sofia Coppola Played a Boy
- The Baptism Montage
- Deleted Scene No. 1: Michael Shoots His Wife’s Killer
- Going to See Genco in the Hospital
- The Problem with Sinatra
- Vic Damone Was Almost Johnny Fontane
- The Film Was a Family Affair
- The Score Was Honored (and Then Rejected) by the Oscars
- Each of the Main Male Actors Got Oscar Noms
- Ushering in the Age of the Modern Blockbuster