'The Godfather' turns 50, but was it always set for success?

Francis Ford Coppola created one of the most recognisable, influential films in Hollywood history, but did he know that from the beginning?
Francis Ford Coppola created one of the most recognisable, influential films in Hollywood history, but did he know that from the beginning?   -  Copyright  John Salangsang/AP
By Tim Gallagher  with AP

The iconic Francis Ford Coppola film, ‘The Godfather,’ turns 50 today.

The film set the tone for every mobster film since, and has directly (or indirectly) influenced everything from ‘Heaven’s Gate’ to ‘Breaking Bad’. But was Francis Ford Coppola’s paradigm shifting, landscape altering film set for success from the beginning? Not quite.

“You know, there was one person who saw it and was the first person who gave me encouragement,” Coppola said at an event for the anniversary held by Paramount Pictures.

“It was the wonderful writer Bob Towne. And he saw it, and he said, 'You know what, Francis? Marlon is great in the movie, and the movie is great.' And before he said that, no one had ever told me that.”

Earlier this year Paramount Pictures re-released the Academy-Award winning movie, and a restored version of the film went into limited release in cinemas and onto home-entertainment platforms.

A half-century after ‘The Godfather’ premiere, its director now has somewhat of a handle on the secret to his movie's success.

"I think it's the combination of the audience being ready for that kind of movie, a wonderful cast, great artists like the photographer and the production designer, the music," Coppola said.

"It's just all the things lined up. Sometimes you get lucky and I got lucky."

Ironically, the film’s influence now extends to meta-sequels about its troubled production.

The making of ‘The Godfather’ was so beset with difficulties that that story is serving as fodder for two upcoming films; the limited series ‘The Offer’ and the feature ‘Francis and the Godfather’.

Video editor • Theo Farrant