Behind the scenes: The Godfather trilogy

17 rare shots of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Francis Ford Coppola in production on one of film history’s greatest trilogies.

18 February 2014

In the director’s chair: Francis Ford Coppola oversees a script readthrough for The Godfather Part III (1990)
Marlon Brando gets made up as Mafia family patriarch Don Corleone in The Godfather (1972), while director Francis Ford Coppola waits in the background
Coppola on the ornate bed used in the famous scene in which movie producer Jack Woltz awakes to find a bloody horse’s head lying next to him
The crew films a street assassination stunt, with John Cazale as Fredo Corleone, the weak link in the Corleone family, watching helplessly from the curb
Brando and Coppola on the streets of New York. The actor and director would reteam in 1979 for the war epic Apocalypse Now
Coppola and Brando with Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, who finds himself drawn inexorably into his father’s murky life of organised crime
Pacino and Brando on location
Following the massive critical and commercial success of the first film, The Godfather Part II followed in 1974. Here’s Francis Ford Coppola examining a scene frame by frame
Shooting the religious parade during the Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy. In The Godfather Part II, the procession is the backdrop for the young Vito Corleone’s (Robert De Niro) assassination of local kingpin Don Fanucci (Gastone Moschin)
Coppola in production on a 1950s street scene for The Godfather Part II
Coppola and Pacino feel the cold of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where Michael Corleone keeps a lakeside compound
Al Pacino, Andy Garcia and Francis Ford Coppola on location for The Godfather Part III (1990)
Costume designer Milena Canonero preps the wedding outfit for Michael Corleone’s daughter Mary, played in the third Godfather film by Sofia Coppola
Coppola with Andy Garcia, who plays Vincent Mancini, the illegitimate son of Sonny Corleone
Joe Mantegna (right) as the fated Joey Zasa, sharing a convivial moment with his director between shots
In a position of power: Coppola with Al Pacino as the ageing Michael Corleone
Cinematographer Gordon Willis frames a shot. Willis shot all three parts of the Godfather trilogy, finally receiving an overdue Oscar nomination for his work on the final part. He lost to Dean Semler for Dances with Wolves
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