Monday's Book; The Godfather Book by Peter Cowie Faber & Faber, pounds 14.99
At first, the Mafia cut up rough when it caught word of the project. Robert Evans, the studio head, received an unambiguous warning: "Get out of fuckin' town, or your kid won't be alive."
But the Italian-American Civil Rights League was won over when bit-parts were offered to the more photogenic members. Similarly, Frank Sinatra "threatened to break Puzo's legs" when they met in a restaurant (John Wayne offered assistance) during the filming of The Godfather - but was keen to appear in Godfather III.
The ultimate blessing came from "Teflon Don" John Gotti. He modelled his own daughter's marriage on the opening wedding scene in The Godfather, with 1,000 guests and Connie Francis singing love songs as Al Martino did in the film.
Despite its impeccable sheen, the first film in the trilogy was made on a shoestring. Curiously, the best-paid actor was Richard Castellano who received $50,000 for playing Clemenza, the pudgy Corleone lieutenant. Brando accepted a percentage, which he prematurely sold back to the studio, so losing an estimated $11m. We learn that the rows of plum tomatoes, where Vito Corleone suffers his fatal heart-attack, blew down in a storm on Staten Island. To his agent's disgust, Brando did not demand to be paid for the five-week delay while the plants re-grew. Cowie also reveals the secret of why the infamous horse's head appeared so gorily realistic in the film when an uncooperative Hollywood magnate found it in his bed. Because a stuffed head looked false, a real one was obtained from a local slaughterhouse.
Cowie's monumental tribute comes unstuck when he devotes a disproportionate amount of space to the disappointing final film in the trilogy. Though he quotes the legendary New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael on the first two films, her lukewarm critique of Godfather III is not mentioned. In fact, she said: "Lightning didn't strike three times; the movie is lumbering." It is unfortunate for Cowie that Coppola's twin tours de force became a flawed trilogy.
Life & Style blogs
10 ways we damage our teeth – without realising
'Cheeky' Nando's under fire for apparently coming onto a customer on Twitter
Facebook Messenger sends 'creepily' precise location data, as revealed by Marauders Map Chrome extension
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
iPhone 'effective power' text: how to be safe from iOS bug that lets people crash your phone
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
- 1 'Cheeky' Nando's under fire for apparently coming onto a customer on Twitter
- 2 Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
- 3 Playboy model April Summers speaks out about being a victim of revenge porn
- 4 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 5 iPhone 'effective power' text: how to be safe from iOS bug that lets people crash your phone
£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...
£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...