Fact vs fiction: The Offer episode 9
A common complaint about new movies is that they’re too long (we even did some research and found that yes, the movies are gets longer), but some movies really make the most of that extra runtime, with an example being The Godfather. The Godfather (at two hours and 55 minutes, by IMDb), is an epic that demands its long run as it depicts the lyrical saga of the Corleone family. But did Paramount want to shorten the film?
This is just one of the questions that arise in the penultimate episode of The offerthe Paramount Plus limited series on the making of The Godfather. Also in the episode, Al Ruddy once again has to solve problems with the mafia – first in Sicily, then in New York. However, what about this latest episode of The offer did it really happen and what was invented?
We researched what is fact and what is fiction in The offer episode 9, “This Is Who We Are.” Check out our previous fact vs fiction pieces for The offer here:
Was the Italian mafia involved in The Godfather?
The fiction : Al Ruddy (Miles Teller) found he couldn’t do The Godfather in New York without the help of Joe Colombo (Giovanni Ribisi) and the mafia. Although the partnership worked, as a lean production headed to Sicily, the producer was happy to put the crowd ties behind him. Or so he thought.
Arriving in Corleone (yes, it’s a real town), Ruddy is soon introduced to a man who can get them anything they need. Ruddy is immediately uncomfortable and asks their Italian assistant director if he is mobster, to which the AD replies yes. Since working with a mobster was enough for him, Ruddy pulls production out of Corleone and finds another town that has no real mob influence.
The fact: The Godfather production did finding out that the Sicilian Mafia were a strong influence in Corleone, but the production’s interaction with them didn’t happen like in The offer.
In the show, Ruddy is introduced to the Mafia connection while everyone sits down for a nice meal and is specifically invited to meet them the next day. According to Mark Seal’s book, Leave the gun, take the cannoli (opens in a new tab), the team discovered the Mafia presence in Corleone when set designer Dean Tavoularis caused a stir by taking pictures. A judge had been murdered and the killer was believed to be hiding in Corleone and many believed taking pictures would attract the wrath of the Mafia.
However, according to Seal, that wasn’t even the main reason why The Godfather The production team chose not to shoot in Corleone. Seal describes the city as “too urban, too crowded” to meet Coppola’s vision of the scenes. Instead, they ended up filming in the town of Taormina (also famous in the 1988 snorkeling movie The Big Blue).
Has Paramount tried to reduce the runtime of The Godfather?
The fiction : With Robert Evans (Matthew Goode) out of commission due to spiraling drugs and personal issues, Barry Lapidus (Colin Hanks) arrives on the studio grounds to take over day-to-day operations. He brings a strictly business approach to all of his decisions, one of which is to cut The Godfather from 30 to 45 minutes, to bring it closer to two hours and therefore allow for more screenings in a day and increase its box office potential.
Coppola (Dan Folger) and Ruddy obviously disagree but seem to be fighting a losing battle. That’s until Evans comes back (after a pep talk from Ruddy) and convinces everyone that the longest haircut in The Godfather is the best movie and the only way it will succeed.
The fact: So a few things right off the bat. First, while (as detailed previously) studio head Evans was dealing with drug issues and a bad back during production of The Godfatherhe didn’t seem to be absent at any time, sometimes even working on The Godfather of a stretcher. Also, Barry Lapidus is not a real figure, but a combination of different Gulf + Western/Paramount executives. One of them probably being Frank Yablans.
Yablans was Paramount’s head of distribution at the time of The Godfather. In a interview with Peter Bart (opens in a new tab)Ruddy recalled the debate over The Godfatherin length with the Yablans. The producer said Evans was a fan of the two-hour, 50-minute version of the film, but Yablans said, “I’m not releasing any movies at two hours and 50 minutes. Tell them to cut half an hour.” They did, and after looking at the shorter cut, Evans said the film felt longer at two hours and 20 minutes than it did at two hours and 50 minutes. Ruddy suggests it’s because you lose the nuance that makes the audience care about the characters.
Of course, the longer version of the film won out, and Evans, Ruddy, and Coppola got it right.
Was there a special screening of The Godfather just for the crowd?
The fiction : As the film draws to a close, attention begins to shift to the premiere and Caesar (Jake Cannavale) asks when the mob guys who helped The Godfather will take their tickets. Ruddy knows Paramount will never let mob members attend The Godfatheris a first, so what should the producer do? Well, he runs off with a copy of the movie and hosts a private screening for a group of gangsters in New York. They love the movie.
The fact: The offer pretty much nails that detail. According to a vanity lounge story (opens in a new tab)because Paramount wasn’t going to let the gangsters attend the official premiere, Ruddy sneaked an impression of The Godfather in New York for a private screening. Those present loved the film. So much in fact that Ruddy said the projectionist at the screening got a $1,000 tip.
The offer releases new episodes on Thursdays Paramount More.