101 Greatest Screenplays

Some facts about the writing of the film:

  • Mario Puzo was broke when he signed a contract with Random House for his novel The Godfather.
  • Son of composer Carmine Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola won the Samuel Goldwyn Award for best screenplay for Pilma, Pilma, when he was a student at UCLA. When he won the award, he was hired to write the screenplay for Reflections in a Golden Eye.
  • While still a student at UCLA, he began his career working as an assistant to Roger Corman.
  • A childhood bout with polio kept him bedridden for a year.
  • Peter Bart at Paramount took an option on Mario Puzo's The Godfather before it was published, when it was still only a 20-page outline. Peter Cowie, Coppola: A Biography
  • Puzo's book was a bestseller, selling 10 million copies.
  • "In fact, the only person who knew less about the Mafia than Coppola was Mario Puzo, the rotund, kind-spirited novelist. 'Everything I know about "the boys" I learned from books,' he told me at our first meeting." Peter Bart, quoted in Coppola: A Biography by Peter Cowie
  • Some of the characters in The Godfather were based on the "Five Families" of New York crime.
  • While collaborating on the original screenplay, Coppola wrote "Clemenza browns some sausage." Puzo noted in the margin, "Clemenza fries some sausage. (Gangsters don't brown)." Peter Cowie, Coppola: A Biography
  • The presence of oranges in all three Godfather movies indicates that a death or a close call will soon happen. The Senator is framed for murder after playing with oranges at the Corleone house, and Johnny Ola brings an orange into Michael's office before the attempt on Michael's life. Fanucci eats an orange just before he is gunned down and Michael is eating an orange (it looks like an apple, but it is an orange) while plotting to kill Roth. Plus, Marlon Brando as Vito puts an orange peel in his mouth prior to his death. Peter Cowie, Coppola: A Biography
  • The Godfather was the highest grossing film in history at the time it was released. It is still one of the highest grossing films in history.

Read a page from the screenplay of The Godfather.