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"THE GODFATHER 1902-1959:
The Complete Epic"
(Out of Print Boxed Set version of The Saga)

introduction - behind-the-scenes
synopsis - additional footage


The following behind-the-scenes and synopsis text were taken from the program guide from the out-of-print "The Complete Epic" boxed set

"I always thought of THE GODFATHER as the story of a great king with three sons. The oldest was given his sweet nature and childlike qualities; the second, his passion and aggressiveness; and the third, his cunning and coolness." [sic.]

(Note: This quote was corrected in The Trilogy!)

This quote from the director describes the mythical quality inherent in the story of the Corleone family. Paramount Home Video is proud to present this collector's edition created especially for home video.

Warm and loving. Brutally violent. Stark. Flowing. A compassionate portrayal of family ritual and honor. A shocking inside look at the chieftains of crime.

Such contrasts are part of the fascination of the classic motion pictures THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER PART II.

These two brilliant films achieved a fullness of storytelling and characterization seldom matched in the art of cinema. The masterful balance of intense family relationships and the grim business of crime is compelling in its contradictions.

Now the complete uncensored story is available in THE GODFATHER 1902-1959, THE COMPLETE EPIC. Presented especially for the home video audience by Paramount Home Video. It contains all of the footage from the original theatrical productions including scenes never seen on television. Riveting in its fifty-seven year scope, THE GODFATHER 1902-1959, THE COMPLETE EPIC is a very special videocassette program.



The landmark films The Godfather and The Godfather Part II brought the world a unprecedented chronicle of a Sicilian family's ascension into gangland dominance. Characterized by Time Magazine as having "the dynastic sweep of an Italian-American 'Gone With the Wind'," the two films stand in motion picture history as masterful evocations of mood, character and story.

Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather was a best-seller many times over when filming began in 1971. Controversy and turmoil surrounded the announcement of the project; protests were lodged by the Italian-American Civil Rights League and by Senators, Congressmen and New York State legislators. Bomb threats and actual intimidation took place. But meetings were held and negotiations reassured many of the querulous, who were convinced to participate in the making of the movie.

It was the task of producer Albert S. Ruddy and director Francis Ford Coppola to assemble the brilliant cast. Marlon Brando was one of the many distinguished actors being considered for the role of Don Vito Corleone, but the feeling for him was not uniformly positive. So eager was Brando for the part that he improvised props and makeup, darkening the shadows under his eyes with shoe polish and stuffing his cheeks with Kleenex, and filmed a private screen test. His classic characterization is one of moviedom's most memorable.

Glamorous and renowned contenders for the crucial supporting roles of the sons were ruled out in favor of lesser-known, more authentic-looking actors: James Caan, John Cazale and young Al Pacino, who skyrocketed to fame with his portrayal of Michael Corleone. Later in PART II, surprise choice Robert De Niro turned in an Oscar-winning performance as the young Vito Corleone. Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, Diane Keaton, Lee Strasberg, Morgana King and many others etched their portraits with great skill to contribute to the epic films. This care in casting extended to the smaller roles and even the extras, all of whom were coached in the atmosphere, mannerisms and attitudes of the times being filmed.

The entire cast inspired each other and plays as a team. Residents of the locales used for filming -- New York's Little Italy, sumptuous Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas, Sicily -- were hired as extras.

Meticulous attention to details of setting, place and time period made both films models of depth and subtle atmosphere. To evoke the texture and variety of each locale, great care was taken to obtain correct costumes, props, cars and even properly-dated posters and handbills.

"It was my intention," says director-producer-screenwriter Coppola, "to make this an authentic piece of film about gangsters who were Italian, how they lived, how they behaved, the way they treated their families, celebrated their rituals." Coppola and Puzo collaborated on the two films' scripts, faithfully maintaining the spirit and complexity of THE GODFATHER.

The rhythm of the film is called by Coppola "legato, rather than staccato," easily flowing and building as the stories are developed. This cohesiveness is no small accomplishment, as the chronicle deals with almost three generations, encompassing literally hundreds of characters and complicated story lines.

THE GODFATHER was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning "Best Picture of 1972," and garnered an Oscar for Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo for their screenplay. THE GODFATHER PART II won twelve Academy Award nominations, and was named "Best Picture of 1974" by the Academy, while Robert De Niro captured the Oscar as "Best Supporting Actor."

Francis Ford Coppola's vision paid off. Not only is he the proud possessor of three Oscars, but he created two theatrical feature films that are a permanent part of that rare space reserved in history for true classics.

And now, with this totally unique and uncensored chronological retelling, THE EPIC, Coppola has expanded his horizons and boldly stepped into the exciting, new, intimate world of home video.



There is the family and there is The Family, and The Godfather is the story of both. Inseparably, it is the story of the rise to power of the Corleone family through the Mafia; and it is the story of the love, pride and honor of those people in their private lives.

It begins with the young Vito (Oreste Baldini), smuggled into New York's Little Italy [in 1901, not 1902!] as an eighth-year-old child, the only survivor of a vendetta against his family in their native Sicily. While a young man learning the various gangland businesses in New York, Vito (De Niro) falls victim to an extortionist, and kills him.

As Vito becomes more established in the operations of the underworld, he is also learning the cold satisfaction of revenge. Returning to Sicily - ostensibly for business reasons - he succeeds in killing the Mafia Don responsible for the slaying of his parents and brother. The family's honor avenged, he goes back to New York and begins his steady ascent through the ranks of organized crime. Soon he is the prosperous, feared and respected Godfather, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), head of one of the city's ruling families. It is a position of great power.

As Vito's three sons reach manhood, they, too, assume responsibilities in the organization. There is Sonny (James Caan), the oldest, hot-tempered, brash and eager; Fredo (John Cazale), inept and weak-willed, given minor chores; and Michael (Al Pacino), the youngest, Ivy League-education, who is torn between family devotion and doubts about his inheritance of violence and power.

Daughter Connie (Talia Shire) is married to Carlo (Gianni Russo), a smalltime hoodlum, whose flagrant womanizing and mistreatment of her is a source of family dissension.

When Don Vito refuses to join the other five ruling Mafia families in the narcotics business, he touches off a brutal gang war that results in an attempt on his life. Ambushed and critically wounded, he passes command of the family to Sonny. Michael, killing to avenge his father, must hide out in Sicily. There he discovers the heritage that underscores and motivates his family. There, too, he falls in love and marries, but his wife is murdered in an attempt to assassinate him.

Sonny, acting as Don of the family, savagely beats his sister's husband, Carlo, who has been abusing here. In retaliation, Carlo arranges Sonny's brutal murder. Don Vito, after Sonny's death, capitulates and agrees to join the five families in the drug market.

When Michael returns to New York, it is to assume the role of Don. Saddened and turned cold by the blood that has flowed, he nonetheless tries to be true to both sides of his nature. He seeks out Kay (Diane Keaton), his college sweetheart, and convinces her to marry him, promising to make the family business legitimate. But when Don Vito, now elderly and gentle in his power, dies of a stroke, Michael vows to regain control. He orders the killing of the heads of the other New York families. With this consolidation of power, he stands alone and hardened: now he is The Godfather.

Michael moves the Corleone enterprises to Nevada. He, Kay and their children are ensconced in a fortress-like estate in Lake Tahoe, but its beauty cannot dispel the troubles in their marriage. Rather than legitimizing the operations, they have expanded into hotels and gambling, and Michael plans a complicated move into the less-restricted Cuba. This involves an alliance with Miami leader Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg), who secretly plans Michael's death using his weak older brother, Fredo Corleone, as go-between. Learning of the plot, Michael attempts to make peace but is mistakenly credited with an attempt on a New York mobster's life, who fearfully goes to the F.B.I. to inform on the Corleone interests.

The Cuban operation is scuttled with the rebel takeover of Havana so Michael returns to Nevada, only to be greeted by consiglieri Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) with the news of Kay's miscarriage and a subpoena from the Senate Hearing on Organized Crime. Through intimidation of the star witness, Michael manages to get the hearing dismissed. But Kay is adamant that their marriage is over. She leaves, though Michael forbids her to take the children.

Mama Corleone (Morgana King) dies at the family compound, and what remains of the family draws closer together. Connie, twice divorced, begs to be allowed to come live there. Even the traitorous Fredo has returned.

But the power has slipped and Michael must reestablish his dominance by eliminating those who conspired against of whom is Fredo. The others who betrayed him are erased. And once again, Michael has prevailed. He is The Godfather, truly.

Alone in the serenity of the Lake Tahoe home, Michael reflects on the past. He remembers the happy times, when he and his family were young, with their future stretching out before them. He contemplates the choices that were made, the paths that were taken as the story ends.


* Additional Footage! *

Scenes added to The Godfather (1972):

Michael and Kay pretend to be in New Hampshire to get away, even though they're in New York. The scene is the two of them in a hotel bed, getting a wake-up call at 3 PM. They're supposed to go to the Corleone residence, but Michael doesn't want to go yet. He calls the mansion (Orchard-9-9539) and Kay pretends to be the long distance operator. Michael tells Tom that they're "stuck in New Hampshire." This scene occurs before Fredo gets the car for the Don.

When Michael is hiding in Sicily, there's a scene where Michael and his two bodyguards are laying down to rest. Fabrizio wants Michael to tell him about New York. M:"How do you know I'm from New York?" / F:"We heard. Somebody told us you were real important" / M:"I'm the son of a big shot" / F:"Is America as rich as they say?" / C:"Stop bothering me [Calo] with this rich America stuff!" Fabrizio asks Michael if he could be his bodyguard in America. This scene comes before their meeting Apollonia.

After Apollonia gets killed in the explosion, there's a short scene of Michael, in shock and in bed, muttering to Tommasino & Apollonia's mother: "Apollonia..?" / T:"Dead" / "Fabrizio..? Get me Fabrizio..."

When Michael returns to New York, before he meets up with Kay, he and his father talk in the garden. Michael: "Pop, what about Sonny? What about Sicily? ...You gave them your word about breaking the peace, I didn't. I take all responsibility."

(The Trilogy set adds even more footage!)

Scenes added to The Godfather Part II (1974):

After Paolo gets shot, 2 of Don Ciccio's thugs arrive at young Vito's home looking for him. She says she'll take him herself

There's a scene before Vito gets fired from Abbandando Grosseria: While Vito's delivering groceries, he sees three punks over on 9th Street assaulting Fanucci, and they cut his throat "from ear to scare him." Genco and Vito chat in the store. Vito says Fanucci's not a big shot. Genco says Fanucci has connections. The next time we see Fanucci, he's fine!

After the new carpet is installed, young Vito, Clemenza and Tessio meet up with a gunsmith, Augustino Coppola, and his young son, Carmine Coppola [sound familiar?]. This is where Clemenza sells his guns. The boy Carmine is the one playing the flute, NOT "young Vito" as the caption in the Soundtrack claims

We then see young Clemenza is hocking stolen dresses door-to-door for $5 a piece. He makes one married woman an offer (two for one), and even fools around with her. Clemenza tells Vito to bring the rest of the dresses to Dadine's Store, who'll turn it over the the wholesaler. While driving is when Fanucci hops aboard.

After Signor Roberto lowers Signora Colombo's rent, Vito sees Clemenza, who found a kid good with cars, to fix the truck. His name is Hyman Suchowsky, but Clemenza calls him "Johnny Lips." His name is then changed to Hyman Rothstien [sound familiar? Later it's Hyman Roth]

In a trip back to Sicily, young Vito finds and kills two of Don Ciccio's retainers (Strollo and ?) before he goes with Tommasino to kill Don Ciccio.

At the Communion party, Sonny's daughter, Francesca, comes to see Michael for his blessing to marry Gardner Shaw. He also asks how Santino's football is coming.

Then there's a scene in which Al Neri is talking to Michael (with Tom & Rocco) and they are looking at pictures of Fabrizio. He was brought over illegally from Sicily by Barzini.

After Michael's meeting with Sen. Geary, we see Fabrizio ("Fred Vincent"), leaving his pizzeria in Buffalo, NY, and getting firebombed in his car. He stumbles out of the car, before he dies.

Is this in Part II? Michael and his bodyguard take a train to Florida. [heh...a train?! I thought he was in a hurry!]

(The Trilogy set adds even more footage!)

Missing from The Godfather Epic (why?!):

The scene after Vito gets fired, when Abbandando offers him groceries to take home, is omitted

Not missing, but moved: The first scene of Part II (Rocco kissing Michael's hand) was moved to the beginning of the Epic


If I missed any, please let me know! Especially if there were scenes CUT from the Epic!

Read the Epic's official credits
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Compilation, Layout, etc. ©1995-2006 J. Geoff Malta
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