Even before Mario Puzo’s novel was published, many assumed that the Johnny Fontane subplot was loosely based on the real-life Frank Sinatra drama when he was trying to earn a role in From Here to Eternity. Puzo successfully avoided running into Sinatra until one night in Los Angeles in 1970, when a friend of Puzo’s insisted on introducing him to Sinatra. After Sinatra refused to meet Puzo and the friend broke down in tears, Puzo uttered, “It’s not my fault.” Sinatra thought he was apologizing for the Fontane character in the book and began to scream at Puzo. The incident made the news and became a public-relations disaster. Later, when Francis Ford Coppola signed on as director, he had a run-in with Sinatra that was more cordial.
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
The Problem with Sinatra
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