If you ask people about the fight between Sonny Corleone and his brother-in-law Carlo Rizzi, you’ll generally get one of two reactions. People will either cringe at its brutality or point out the miscues, like when James Caan takes a big swing that lands about a foot away from Gianni Russo (Carlo)’s face. But the fight was a lot closer to reality than critics think. When Caan tossed Russo over the fence, then beat him with a trash can, he allegedly broke two of Russo’s ribs and cracked his elbow. There were rumors that Caan and Russo didn’t get along well, which may have contributed to the brutality of the brawl. But as a means of setting up Sonny’s eventual demise, Francis Ford Coppola’s scene is spot-on.
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 Too-Realistic Fight
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