The story

"The Godfather" was supposed to be terrible.

The author of the novel, Mario Puzo, had written the book for money after his well-reviewed works, such as "The Fortunate Pilgrim," flopped. The studio, Paramount, optioned Puzo's treatment hoping for a quickie gangster film; when the book became a huge best-seller, it almost dropped the project, worried about expectations.

The director, Francis Ford Coppola, took the job after several more noted directors (including Elia Kazan, Arthur Penn and Costa-Gavras, according to then-Paramount executive Robert Evans) turned it down. The studio didn't want him -- he'd directed just three major films, none of them hits -- and Coppola didn't want to do it either, but he needed the money to finance his failing countercultural studio, Zoetrope. Read full article »

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