BOOK REVIEW: “Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli: The Epic Story of The Godfather’s Creation”

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli” is one of the many iconic lines from the movie “The Godfather”.

Mark Seal uses the line in the title of his book, “Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli: The Epic Story of the Making of The Godfather.” The backstory behind the nearly perfect crime film is almost as dramatic as the film itself.

I contacted Mark Seal and asked him why he wrote the book.

“I have had a fascination with the film for most of my life, which I first saw in my freshman year in spring break in 1972,” Seal replied.

He said that in 2009, he wrote about the making of “The Godfather” for Vanity Fair magazine and that he interviewed many people who helped make the film.

“With the film’s 50th anniversary looming, I thought this was the perfect time to develop the magazine’s story into a book – and continue my fixation with the film – and, during further research and development. ‘Talks with Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, James Caan and other cast and crew members, I’ve often been surprised at what I’ve found, “Seal explained.” I’ have also delved into the enormous body of documentation on the film, including the papers of Mario Puzo, now archived at Dartmouth University, and the minutes of the 1971 production meeting that Francis Coppola chaired with his team of creation, every word recorded by a stenographer.It shows how the film came to life.

Why do you think most critics, as well as viewers, think “The Godfather” is the greatest movie ever made?

“Because it was shot in New York as a period play in the 1940s, which gives it a timeless feel and is as fresh today as it was half a century ago. And because he doesn’t just present his mafia characters as gangsters, but as family men and women that you can’t help but care about. As “The Godfather” producer Al Ruddy says in the book, “This may be the greatest family movie ever made.” “

How would you describe Mario Puzo?

“The true hero of” The Godfather “, a lovable but financially destitute writer with a fertile imagination and a habit of play, who spent his first forty years struggling in near poverty, only to find himself in a gutter with a severe gallbladder attack, “Seal said.” That’s when I decided to get rich and famous, “he would later say. Puzo began to imagine the saga who became “The Godfather.” Mario Puzo was a writer who claimed to have never met a real gangster but who would create a fictional story so authentic it felt real, a saga that would be adopted by the crowd as his own, emulating his language, his titles and his belief. “

How would you describe Francis Ford Coppola?

“When he was hired as the director of ‘The Godfather’ in 1971, he was a brilliant young Italian-American director, who had just turned 30 and had made a film that hardly any other director would touch,” Mr. Seal said. “He took the job for the money, but he immediately found himself in a fight from start to finish to get the movie through his head on screen. Coppola didn’t even believe that “The Godfather” would be a “medium success” as he put it. “

How would you describe the clashes between producer Robert Evans and Mr. Coppola overcasting and other issues?

“Evans and Coppola fought over virtually every aspect of the film. The war that covered the Corleone family was more volatile than the war that the Corleone family waged onscreen, Evans wrote. They argued over the music, movie length, final cut and more. Fortunately, the cast that Coppola had envisioned from the start – Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando – was the cast that came into being. without the fierce determination of the director, it could easily have happened otherwise. ”

Mr Seal said the Italian-American Civil Rights League tried to stop the film with a campaign of letters, protests and alleged threats. Next, Mr. Ruddy met the founder of the league, Joe Colombo, reputed to be the head of one of the New York Mafia families. Colombo wanted one thing: the removal of a word that he said symbolized stereotypes of Italian Americans in media, popular culture, and film – Mafia.

“With this book, I hope to offer a well-documented dive into an iconic American film. Like many films in this category, it has its limitations, controversies, and flaws.

• Paul Davis’ On Crime column covers real crime, crime fiction and thrillers.

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Drop the gun, grab the cannoli: the epic story of the creation of the godfather
By Mark Seal
Gallery Books, $ 28.99, 448 pages


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