20 Fun Facts About the Godfather Trilogy

Ask almost any cinephile what their favorite movie is and at least one of The Godfather movies usually pop up in the top 10. It's a rare franchise where the sequel is not only brilliant, it's almost superior to the incredible predecessor. The third one is another story altogether and certainly has its merits, but was doomed from the start. Any way you look at it, The Godfather trilogy represents cinematic genius, and they're a must-have in any movie-buff's collection. 

The Godfather is such an iconic piece of American cinema that its influence is still felt in everyday culture 40+ years later. The term "Godfather" wasn't even an expression until these films debuted, and how many times have we all heard that reference? The idea of a "Don" also wasn't a thing until the book that inspired these films came along. The Godfather films are near-perfect, in addition to being extremely influential. 

It's hard to find a better performance than Marlon Brando as Don Vito in the first Godfather until you watch De Niro playing the very same character in its sequel. How often does that happen? Not to mention the tour de force that is Al Pacino in all three films, as well as the supporting cast that includes heavy weights like James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia, and countless others. 

The Godfather trilogy is a timeless piece of American cinema and well worth a revisit, so we decided to dig up some fun facts about The Godfather franchise that you may not know. We figure that's an offer you can't refuse.

  • The Word "Mafia" Is Never Used in the First Film

    Despite the entire movie being about the exploits of an Italian family crime syndicate, this familiar label is never used.  It's never spoken because the Italian-American Civil Rights League requested that “Mafia” and “Cosa Nostra” be removed from the film’s script.

    That, and the fact Coppola used actual Mafia members in the cast, crew, and as consultants... and those are the last guys you want to piss off. 

    Source: The Godfather Wiki

  • The Cat Wasn't in the Original Script

    Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is seen holding a cat on his lap while he sits in his office during his daughter’s wedding ceremony. 

    Writer/director Francis Ford Coppola found the stray cat while walking through the lot at Paramount studios. A cat was never mentioned in the script at all, but right before the scene, Coppola gave the cat to Brando to see how it would play out. 

    It played out wonderfully (Brando loved cats) creating one of the more memorable images from the Godfather films. The only problem the cat did create was when its purring muffled some of Brando’s lines, which then had to be redubbed.

    Source: The Godfather Wiki

  • Marlon Brando Was Crowned "Mighty Moon King" on Set

    Sure, the movie was tense, but the set seemed like a blast. Marlon Brando, James Caan, and Robert Duvall spent nearly the entire filming process trying to out-moon one-another.  Butts were consistently exposed on set until Brando showed his backside in the middle of the huge wedding-reception scene.

    The others admitted defeat even presenting Brando with a belt buckle emblazoned with “Mighty Moon King." 

    Source: ShortList

  • That Was Coppola's Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

    The scene where Clemenza makes spaghetti sauce is in the novel, while the actual recipe is not. In the movie, Clemenza gives us the recipe as he cooks. The DVD commentary explained that the recipe came from Francis Ford Coppola himself. 

    He joked that in case the movie flopped, at least people would know how to make a great spaghetti sauce. 

    Source: The Urban Possum

  • There Were Zipper-Based Reshoots in Part II

    The actors in the flashback scenes wore seemingly period appropriate pants with zippers. However, one of the musicians pointed out that the zipper had not been invented at that time, so some scenes had to be re-shot with button fly trousers. 

     Source: IMDb
  • Oranges Signify Death

    In the first film alone there are almost a dozen examples, including two during the iconic wedding scene. Clemenza drinks from a jug of wine with orange slices floating in it, while telling Paulie to "do his job." Clemenza later takes Paulie out to be killed for not doing his job.  

    Then, when Sonny runs off to have sex with Lucy Mancini, there is a shot of his wife gesturing with her hands. In front of her is a dish of oranges. Sonny is of course killed later in the film.

    Production designer Dean Tavoularis claims it was a coincidence, that the fruit was used to brighten up an otherwise darkly-shot film. But it occurs far too many times throughout the three movies for it not to have been done intentionally.  

    Source: The Godfather Wiki