Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
The Godfather, 1972/Mario Puzo
THE GODFATHER, 1972 There were some terrific actors on The Godfather, especially Robert Duvall and Al Pacino. Bobby Duvall is one of those actors who never stop taking dares, which very few actors do...Duvall takes chances and has fallen flat on his face but far more times than not he has established a characterization that is not Duvall. He's a wonderful actor. The same can be said of Al Pacino. Francis [Coppola] left the characterizations in our hands and we had to figure out what to do. I threw out a lot of what was in the script and created the role as I thought it should be...I decided that the part of Don Corleone lent itself perfectly to underplaying. Rather than portraying him as a big shot, I thought it would be more effective to play him as a modest, quiet man, the way he was in the book...I thought it would be interesting to play a gangster, maybe for the first time in the movies, who wasn't like those bad guys Edward G. Robinson played, but who was a kind of hero, a man to be respected. Also, because he had so much power and unquestioned authority, I thought it would be an interesting contrast to play him as a gentle man....I had a great deal of respect for Don Corleone; I saw him as a man of substance, tradition, dignity, refinement, a man of unerring instinct who just happened to live in a violent world and who had to protect himself and his family in this environment
The Godfather, 1972/Mario Puzo

Details
The Godfather, 1972/Mario Puzo
An important autograph letter, signed, from Mario Puzo to Marlon Brando, urging him to consider the role of the Godfather, dated 23 January [circa 1970], on Mario Puzo, 866 Manor Lane, Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, N.Y. 11706 headed stationery, and inscribed in Puzo's hand North Carolina Fat Farm, the letter in red ballpoint pen begins Dear Mr Brando, I wrote a book called THE GODFATHER which has had some success and I think you're the only actor who can play the part...Godfather with that quiet force and irony the part requires., Puzo continues: I'd love you to read the book and like it well enough to use whatever power you can to get the role. I'm writing Paramount to the same effect for whatever good that will do. I know this was presumptuous of me but the best I can do by the book is try. I really think you'd be tremendous. Needless to say I've been an admirer of your art...Mario Puzo, 1p.

Lot Essay

Mario Puzo sent me a copy of The Godfather shortly after it was published, along with a note saying that if a movie was ever made from the book, he thought I should play Don Corleone, the head of the New York Mafia family he had written about. I read the note but wasn't interested. Alice Marchak remembers my throwing it away and saying "I'm not a Mafia godfather". I had never played an Italian before and I didn't think I could do it successfully. By then, I had learned that one of the biggest mistakes an actor can make is to try to play a role for which he is miscast. But Alice took the book home, read it and said she thought I should take the part if it was offered me. She didn't change my mind, though I did call Mario without having read the book and thanked him for his note. Mario, who had sold the film rights to Paramount, began writing a screenplay based on the book and called me from time to time and encouraged me to reconsider... When Mario sent me the finished screenplay, I read both it and the book and liked them. By then, Francis Coppola had signed on as director and was beginning to rewrite portions of Mario's script. He also said that he wanted me to play the part and suggest that I audition for it to convince the executives at Paramount. I went home and did some rehearsing to satisfy my curiosity about whether I could play an Italian. I put on some make-up, stuffed Kleenex in my cheeks, and worked out the characterization first in front of a mirror, then on a television monitor. After working on it, I decided I could create a characterization that would support the story. The people at Paramount saw the footage and liked it and that's how I became the Godfather.
;

More from THE PERSONAL PROPERTY OF MARLON BRANDO

View All
View All