‘Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli’ by Mark Seal

My Review (5 stars out of 5)

Charting the story of how the hit movie The Godfather came to be made, Mark Seal’s book is as exciting as the film itself. From Mario Puzo’s early struggles as a writer, to his creation of a novel that would become one of the greatest movies of all time, Seal tells how every aspect of the project became a topic for disagreements, tantrums and arguments. Including updated accounts from director Francis Ford Coppola and actors such as Al Pacino, James Caan and Talia Shire, the book reads like a list of catastrophes waiting to happen. With everyone in Hollywood chasing roles, from bit-part actors to real-life Mafia mobsters, to the constant calls from Paramount to sack the director, several actors (including Brando) and totally rewrite the script, this is a warts-and-all account that reveals many of the difficulties that surrounded key scenes in the movie, including the murder of Luca Brasi and the gradual transformation of Michael Corleone that allows him to take over his father’s empire.

Buying the hardback version of this book wasn’t one of my better decisions, as the sheer weight of the thing makes it a cumbersome book to read. Nevertheless, it’s well worth the trouble and fans of the movie (and its follow-ups) will love the details Mark Seal brings to the table. Though the movie did eventually make millions for its creators, the challenges facing Coppola and his crew make it a wonder the film ever made it to the big screen at all. There’s also a nice selection of photographs depicting Brando with cue-cards, producer Robert Evans with then-wife Ali McGraw and several images from the movie itself. Seal’s writing is engaging and entertaining, making it an easy read from start to finish.

A must-read for ‘Godfather’ fans everywhere.

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