True or False Trivia Week: The Godfather


One of the fascinating pieces of trivia below is true*, the other is false. Do YOU know which is which?

The Godfather (1972)

1) Ernest Borgnine, Edward G. Robinson, Orson Welles, Danny Thomas, Richard Conte, Anthony Quinn, and George C. Scott were considered by Paramount Pictures for the role of Vito Corleone. Burt Lancaster wanted the role but was never considered. When Paramount considered casting Italian producer Carlo Ponti, director Francis Ford Coppola objected as Vito had lived in America since childhood and thus wouldn’t speak with Ponti’s Italian accent. When asked his opinion by the Paramount brass, Coppola said he wanted to cast either Laurence Olivier or Marlon Brando as the Don. In a September/October 2003 “Cigar Aficionado” magazine cover story, Coppola said, “I wanted either an Italian-American or an actor who’s so great that he can portray an Italian-American. So, they said, ‘Who do you suggest?’ I said, ‘Lookit, I don’t know, but who are the two greatest actors in the world? Laurence Olivier and Marlon Brando. Well, Laurence Olivier is English. He looked just like Vito Genovese. His face is great.’ I said, ‘I could see Olivier playing the guy, and putting it on.’ [And] Brando is my hero of heroes. I’d do anything to just meet him. But he’s 47, he’s a young, good-looking guy. So, we first inquired about Olivier and they said, ‘Olivier is not taking any jobs. He’s very sick. He’s gonna die soon and he’s not interested.’ So, I said, ‘Why don’t we reach out for Brando?'” Frank Sinatra, despite his reported distaste for the novel and opposition to the film, had discussions with Coppola about playing the role himself and at one point actually offered his services. Coppola, however, was adamant in his conviction that Brando take the role instead. This would be the third time Brando performed in a part sought by Sinatra, after playing Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront and Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. Brando’s previous film, Burn!, had been a terrible flop and he could not get work in American pictures, being considered by many producers as “washed up”. Paramount executives initially would offer Marlon Brando only union scale for the role of Don Corleone. Finally, the studio relented and paid Brando $300,000, according to Coppola’s account. In his autobiography The Kid Stays in the Picture, former Paramount production chief Robert Evans claims that Brando was paid $50,000, plus points, and sold back his points to Paramount before the release of the picture for an additional $100,000 because he had female-related money troubles. Realizing the film was going to be a huge hit, Paramount was happy to oblige. This financial fleecing of Brando, according to Evans, is the reason he refused to do publicity for the picture or appear in The Godfather: Part II.

Don Corleone

2) The scene in which Luca Brasi was killed was achieved by actually strangling actor Lenny Montana to death, at the behest of Marlon Brando. Montana had earlier beaten Brando in a vicious game of anisette pong that lasted 37 hours, prompting Brando to cash in the death warrant that he had won from Montana during a high-stakes game of Candy Land.

Luca Brasi death

*true trivia courtesy of

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