Friday, June 20, 2014

5 Things you Absolutely, Positively Did Not Know about The Godfather.

5 Things you Absolutely, Positively, Did Not Know about The Godfather

Despite its immense popularity and ranking among the greatest, if not THE GREATEST film of all time, there are a number of little known facts regarding Franis Ford Coppola's Masterpiece, that even the most die hard of fans, are shockingly unaware of.

1. Lenny Montana who played Luca Brasi prepared for the roll by adhering to a diet which completely changed his body chemistry.
Shocking weight gains and losses are somewhat the norm for committed actors preparing for a part. 

 photo index_zps372ad73a.jpgRobert Deniro's weight fluctuated from 145 to 215 to play Jake Lamotta in Raging Bull. Christian Bale lost 60lbs and was a mere 120lbs starring as Trevor Reznik in the Machinist

However, none of that compares to Lenny Montana. By the time principal photography for The Godfather began on March 29, 1971, Montana's strict diet, left his body made up of nearly 98% Sausage and Peppers. 

2. The Character Philip Tattaglia was actually a Muppet Voiced by Jim Henson.
 photo Philip_Tattaglia_zps80201c66.jpgModeled after actor Victor Rendina, Tattaglia, or "Tatty," was one of Henson's first attempts at the Marionette/Puppet, or Muppet, as these large mouthed characters with big protruding eyes would later become known as. 

In fact, for the film, both the Tattaglia, and Barzini Families were carved entirely out of various types of foam, then covered with fleece, fur, or other felt-like material, and operated by a skilled team of Henson's Muppeteers.

3. Marlon Brando's mustache was made entirely of bacon.
1976 is widely celebrated as the year Marlon Brando ushered in the Modern era of the Diva Actor.  

 photo index_zps02dee4a4.jpgHe agreed to play the role of Jor-El in the film Superman, only on assurance that he would be paid a large sum of money for what amounted to a small part and did not have to memorize his lines let alone read the script.

What many do not realize, is that Brando was "Big Timin' it" even years earlier.

Aside from insisting on not memorizing his lines for The Godfather, Brando only accepted the role of Vito Corleone with the understanding that his mustache be made entirely of bacon.

4. The Horse Head was actually added in Post Production.
The original scene was NOT actor John Marley waking up next to a horse's head, but rather, actor John Marley, covered in horseradish.

Marley's screaming reaction was not rehearsed, or even in the original script. However, the terror you see in the above clip is very real.

The prolific character actor, actually had an irrational, petrifying fear of horseradish. The Rigging Gaffer, Russel Engles, used this knowledge, and recorded him while playing this practical joke as Marley tried to nap on set. The visceral reaction from Marley only cemented Coppola's ardent stance that the scene be included in the film, as is.

Al Pacino would later remark:  

"We kept pleading with Francis, this horseradish thing, just makes no sense, we just shot a whole scene about a prized race horse, maybe he wakes up with the horse's head, but Coppola was so adamant about the condiment. He just wouldn't let it go. All through 77 days of filming, it was Horseradish this, Horseradish that." 

Finally the studio executives at Paramount stepped in after the test audiences were left completely baffled by the scene. Further compounding the confusion was a trash can sized jar of horseradish on the night stand to the left of the bed.

In the end. The horse's head was edited IN during post production, and the jar of horseradish, edited OUT. And the rest, is/was movie making history.

5. James Caan wore Prosthetic Shoulders for his role as Sonny Corleone. 
One of the best kept secrets in Hollywood is how painfully self conscious James Caan is about his Shoulders. 

 photo index_zps1d719f13.jpgUpon signing on to play his role as the eldest son of Vito Corleone, Caan insisted on a shoulder enhancement due to the large amount of screen time in which he would be required to wear a tank top. 

Though all the rage in today's modern society, even in 1970's Hollywood, Shoulder Enhancements seemed to be something plausible only on the deck of the Star Ship Enterprise.

It was decided that Caan would wear prosthetics. Awaiting construction of the Silicone shoulders, set filming back nearly a year. The end result however, was nothing short of spectacular, and would go on to set the bar for movie prostheses for years to come.

 photo images_zpsaebdb0fb.jpgIn the very few and far between scenes in which Caan's Sonny was not in a tank top, shoulder pads were used. The "Sonny Corleone," as it was called at the time, would go on to heavily influence women's fashion a mere decade later.
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