The Godfather premiered in 1972, and remains one of the most influential films ever made. With the film’s 50th anniversary this year, and the premiere of The Offer, a new show that dramatizes the making of The Godfather, many are eager to go behind the scenes of the iconic mafia movie.
Here are 10 must-read books for fans of The Godfather, from a memoir by Paramount Studios CEO Robert “Bob Evans” to the annotated screenplay.
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The Godfather: 50th Anniversary Edition
First, if you haven’t read Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, what are you waiting for? This special 50th anniversary edition features an introduction by director Francis Ford Coppola.
The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay, Commentary on Every Scene, Interviews, and Little-Known Facts
Another special 50th anniversary edition is this authorized, annotated, and illustrated edition of the Godfather’s screenplay. Per the description, it includes “fascinating commentary on technical details about the filming and shooting locations,” plus “tales from the set, including arguments, accidents, and anecdotes.”
Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli: The Epic Story of the Making of The Godfather
Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli is The definitive story of how The Godfather was made, and how the film had to deal with the real-life mob during production. As author Mark Seal writes, this is the story of a “movie that revolutionized filmmaking, saved Paramount Pictures, minted a new generation of movie stars, made its struggling author Mario Puzo rich and famous, and sparked a war between two of the mightiest powers in America: the sharks of Hollywood and the highest echelons of the Mob.”
This is the publication of the notebook that Francis Ford Coppola kept while he read Mario Puzo’s novel, and that he referred to while filming The Godfather. “In truth, I think I made the notebook out of profound fear,” Coppola writes in the introduction. “It’s important to understand that at the root of it all, I was terrified… I thought if I could first work out the story on a set of blueprints—a plan—I would then be able to sleep at night.” These are his blueprints, so to speak.
The Kid Stays in the Picture: A Notorious Life
In the The Offer, Matthew Goode plays the movie producer Robert Evans, who was deeply involved in the making of The Godfather. The Kid Stays in the Picture is Evans’s unforgettable memoir, chronicling his life from actor to Paramount Studios chief exec through his many marriages. Of course, his work on The Godfather is discussed.
Al Pacino: In Conversation with Lawrence Grobel
The Godfather wouldn’t be The Godfather without star Al Pacino. From 1979 through 2005, Pacino granted interviews with journalist Lawrence Grobel—talking about everything from his career to his family. These interviews are collected here, and they reflect Pacino’s post-Godfather life and career.
The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando
Wiliam J. Mann’s The Contender is a definitive biography of actor Marlon Brando, based on material from Brando’s private archives. It’s full of fascinating details from Brando’s time working on The Godfather—including how he bonded with the cast at a pre-production meal in character.
Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires
If you’re curious about the real Italian mafia families at the heart of The Godfather, Selwyn Raab’s book is for you. Raab traces the rise and fall of these families for over half a century in New York City.
Hollywood Godfather: My Life in the Movies and the Mob
Gianni Russo, who claims he is a real mobster who worked for crime boss Frank Costello, played Carlo Rizzi, the husband of Connie Corleone, in The Godfather. Robert DeNiro blurbed the book as a “worthy read.”
The Making of the Godfather
Last but certainly not least is Mario Puzo’s 1972 essay on the making of The Godfather. As Ed Falco, who wrote The Family Corleone, writes in the introduction, “it’s a read no real Godfather fan can refuse.”
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