Thursday, April 12, 2012


Though it's hard to imagine anyone else portraying Don Corleone, Brando was not the first choice for the patriarch of "The Godfather." Paramount Pictures initially considered the following actors: Ernest Borgnine, Edward G. Robinson, Orson Welles, George C. Scott, Burt Lancaster, Anthony Quinn & Frank Sinatra. Francis Coppola narrowed the list to Brando & Laurence Olivier. Olivier was ill so Brando won out. Brando's previous film before "The Godfather" was a flop called "Burn!" Paramount was afraid Brando might be washed up so they offered him a salary just above scale. Brando wanted to make Don Corleone look like a bulldog so during early camera tests he stuffed his cheek with cotton. When actual filming began, he wore a custom-fitted mouthpiece. Because of Brando's thick makeup, cinematographer Gordon Willis opted to use overhead lighting. This contributed to the film's patented dark look. Paramount was so dissatisfied with the early rushes they considered replacing Coppola with Elia Kazan. Brando announced he would quit if Coppola were fired. (The studio didn't realize that Brando was still upset with Kazan over his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950's.) Brando did not memorize his lines during shooting but instead read from cue cards. Even so, Brando's performance won him the Best Actor Academy Award in 1972. This led to the infamous incident where Brando sent Native American Sacheen Littlefeather to accept the Oscar on his behalf. (4" x 6", black ink print)

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