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Cast of ‘The Godfather’ reunite for emotional 45th anniversary

Al Pacino was considered too short, Marlon Brando was required to do a screen test, and director Francis Ford Coppola was almost fired.

Francis Ford Coppola (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

Francis Ford Coppola (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

The director and cast of “The Godfather” reminisced on Saturday in a 45th anniversary reunion in New York about the trials, perseverance and inspiration that resulted in the Oscar-winning Mafia movies.

Coppola, Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, James Caan, Talia Shire and Robert Duvall watched back-to-back screenings of “The Godfather” (1972) and “The Godfather: Part II” (1974) along with an audience of 6,000 on the closing night of the Tribeca film festival.

“I haven’t seen these movies for years,” Coppola said. “I found (watching) a very emotional experience. I forgot a lot about the making of it and thought about the story, and the story used a lot of family and my personal stuff.”

The two films won nine Oscars and their tale of how an orphan from Sicily emigrated to the United States at the turn of the 20th century and formed the Corleone crime family became movie classics.

But the film had a less than auspicious start. Coppola recalled that Hollywood studio Paramount wanted to set the movie in the 1970s and make something “cheap and quick.”

Coppola was almost fired several times and met stiff resistance to the casting of both Pacino as Michael Corleone and Brando as the titular Godfather.
Brando, who died in 2004, had made several box-office flops after a stellar career in the 1950s and had a reputation for being difficult.

“I was told (by studio executives ) that having Brando in the film would make it less commercial than having a total unknown,” Coppola said.

The studio later agreed “if Marlon will do a screen test and do it for nothing and put up a million dollar bond that he wouldn’t cause trouble during the production.” (Reuters)

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