The Godfather
The Godfather trivia picture

Trivia: The infant playing Connie and Carlo's baby son Michael Francis Rizzi who Kay holds during the christening scene is Sofia Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola's daughter, who was born in May 1971. Sofia later had a prominent role in Part III as Michael's daughter, Mary. Other than the main characters, Sofia is the only actor to have appeared in all three films. In The Godfather II, she can be briefly seen as an immigrant girl on the ship that brings Vito Corleone to Ellis Island.

Trivia: In the scene where Vito is in the garden with his grandson, he puts a lemon (or an orange) peel in his mouth, and the kid looks scared. Well, the kid really is scared. Marlon Brando improvised that, and the kid wasn't expecting it.

Trivia: Marlon Brando won a Best Actor Oscar for his role as Vito Corleone. Robert DeNiro, who played the role via flashbacks in Part II, won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. They remain the only two actors to win Oscars for playing the same character. Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix both won for playing the Joker, but not really the same character, given the very different films and portrayals.

Trivia: The people at Paramount weren't impressed with Al Pacino's screen test, and kept urging Coppola to hire someone else to do the part. At one point, James Caan was favored for the part, even though he had already auditioned for the role of Sonny.

Trivia: The cat in the first scene that Don Corleone was holding was a stray that Marlon Brando found. The cat purred so loudly that it drowned out the lines from the other characters. They ended up having to re-record their voices.

Trivia: Johnny Fontaine was envisioned by Coppola as a young Sinatra, and was played by singer Al Martino. Martino didn't have much acting experience and was having difficulties getting his expressions and emotions right when the camera was on him. So, when he is in the office with the Godfather, the reason the camera is so often at his back is because he felt uncomfortable and unable to do the scene with the camera focused directly on him.

Trivia: During the shoot of the movie, many people were unhappy about the quality of acting Pacino was giving. They thought he was showing the character as dumb and slow-witted. It wasn't until the scene of the Sollozo murder, on the third and fourth day of shooting, that the big heads at Paramount saw "quality acting" on Pacino's part. However, Pacino was still not highly regarded until the Godfather became a big hit, and Coppola was criticized immensely, and was threatened to be fired for his cast choices and the manner in which he was filming the movie.

Trivia: Originally the character of Connie was supposed to be played by someone Coppola called "plain looking, the daughter of a big-shot who is only married off because she's the daughter of some big Mafioso guy". When they couldn't find an actress, Talia Shire, Coppola's sister, got the part, even though Coppola thought she was too beautiful and said "C'mon, look at her. Who wouldn't want to marry her?"

Trivia: The scene in the beginning where Marlon Brando is giving instructions (some involving violence) while petting the cat was somewhat improvised. It was Brando's idea to hold and pet the cat during the scene, to show both his character's violent and kind sides.

Trivia: In the scene outside the hospital when Michael encounters Capt. McCluskey, the officer standing to the left of McCluskey, "Phil" is actually former legendary New York City police officer, Sonny Grosso. Grosso was the actual partner of Eddie Eagan, who was portrayed by Gene Hackman as Popeye Doyle in "The French Connection" (1971). Grosso's character, Buddy "Cloudy" Russo was played by Roy Scheider. Grosso went on to direct and produce numerous police dramas for TV (the best known is "NYPD Blue"), usually about the New York Police Department.

Trivia: Surprisingly, the word "Mafia" does not appear in the screenplay once. Apparently, the Italian-American Civil Rights League had an agreement with the film's producer not to use the term "Mafia" in the film.

Trivia: The horse's head that was cut off and placed into Woltz's bed was real - it was from a slaughterhouse. They painted on the stripe and added the fake blood.

Trivia: When Luca Brasi goes to visit the Tattaglia's and is strangled, you can see his face turning slightly black due to strangulation. This effect was achieved by placing a type of translucent powder on the actor's face which tints black when it comes in contact with water. So while Luca Brasi was being strangled, a fine mist of water was sprayed over his face to trigger the colour change.

Trivia: At the baptism, Sofia Coppola (Michael Francis Rizzi), in her first on screen performance, is being held by Diane Keaton (Kay Adams). Thirty two years later, both women will be nominated for Oscars in 2004, in their individual categories and Sofia wins hers.

Super Grover Premium member

Trivia: The scene where Connie breaks the dishes and vases and then Carlo beats her up was originally not supposed to be in the movie; Coppola tacked it on because the studio felt the movie didn't have enough action and were about to bring in an action movie director.

Trivia: The Godfather was roundly criticized by the Italian-American Civil Rights League for its stereotypical portrayal of Italians.

Factual error: In the scene when Michael visits his father in the hospital in 1945 there's a NYC Fire Dept. Sign on the wall with the name of the Commissioner, Robert O. Lowery, who was commissioner from 1966 to 1973.

Ray Palermo

More mistakes in The Godfather

Clemenza: Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

More quotes from The Godfather

Question: Why did Don Corleone send Luca Brasi to gather intel on Sollozzo? Wouldn't it have been obvious to the Don that sending his bodyguard, who was widely known to be unquestionably loyal, wouldn't fool his adversaries, which would eventually, with Brasi dead, lead to his own death?

Answer: Luca wasn't Vito's bodyguard, Paulie Gatto was. In Mafioso circles the bodyguard is also usually the chauffeur which was the other part Paulie played. Luca was an independent who had loyalty to Vito. Unlike other members of the family, Luca had his own operation and his own scams. He was usually only called into service by the Don when some particularly nasty piece of business needed to be taken care of for which Luca was paid handsomely. Few people knew why Luca was loyal to Vito, it had to do with a bit of trouble Luca got into with a young girl, Luca was looking at some hard time and Vito was able to get him out of it. As explained in the books, Luca didn't care if he lived or died, he didn't even care if he was killed, but he cared very deeply that he wouldn't be killed by Vito. That was the hold Vito had on Luca which made his loyalty so deep. So far as the rest of the underworld was concerned Luca was just an independent contractor who worked for the Corleone's from time to time. If you'll recall when Kay sees Luca Michael tells her "he helps out my father sometimes." Barzini was probably the only other one who truly understood how deep Luca's loyalty went. So, why did Vito send Luca: Vito thought he was dealing with the Tataglias. Ten years prior to the Sollozo meeting there had been a Mafia war. Vito planned the strategy of the war while Sonny handled the tactics. The war was bloody and costly but the Corleone's were able to out maneuver the other families and come out on top. After that war Vito was top dog of all the 5 families. Had Vito been correct that Philip Tataglia was behind Sollozo, sending Luca would have been a smart move. As Vito mentions after the meeting of the commission "Tataglia is a pimp, he never could have out fought Santino." Tataglia would have seen getting Luca as a huge win, not only would he have Vito's special muscle, but he'd probably also believe he'd be able to get information from Luca. Where Vito made the mistake was not seeing Barzini pulling the strings, had he believed Barzini was involved he'd have handled it differently.

The line in Goodfellas seems illuminating here where Henry Hill explains that the Mafia is essentially an organisation that offers protection for those who can't turn to the legitimate law of regular society. This suggests that these "family" ties are not as strong as we imagine. These criminals are not a definite part of an orderly corporation, like head of HR at IBM, but a loose confederation of connections and loyalties that are rather more fluid. This is a theme also explored very well in the book and film, Donnie Brasco. Therefore, it wouldn't be totally unthinkable that someone in Luca Brasis position could turn to another "family" if he felt it expedient. However, these kind of guys have a tendency towards mistrust.

Answer: Luca was instructed by Don Corleone to act as if he was unhappy with his current situation within the Corleone family. In the book, this mission was planned more thoroughly and was spread out over a longer period of time with Luca frequenting the Tattaglia family's bars and bordellos, where he (falsely) bitterly complained to the prostitutes and anyone who'd listen about how he was underpaid and undervalued by the Godfather. Either this ploy did not fool Sollozzo or, if he did believe it, he didn't care and used it to send a message to the Corleones by killing Luca.

raywest Premium member

More questions & answers from The Godfather

Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.