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I picked up a copy of Jenny M. Jones’ The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay with Commentary on Every Scene, Interviews, and Little-Known Facts recently for a crime screenplay I’m writing. I always believe it’s educational and sometimes even inspirational to read your favorite screenwriters and scripts from your favorite films. And this book goes above and beyond.

Jones lays out the “Genesis of The Godfather,” discussing its beginning as Mario Puzo’s bestselling novel, through the many fights director and co-writer Francis Ford Coppola had with producers Al Ruddy and Robert Evans and Paramount executives.

The side columns throughout the script include “Production Details,” “Adaptation and the Cutting Room Floor”–which discusses the many filmed scenes that were cut from the 1972 release, some which are included in the screenplay as deleted scenes, and some which showed up later in The Godfather Saga and The Godfather Trilogy: 1901–1980 which aired on TV in chronological order–“Behind the Scenes” details, cast and crew bios, and even “Italianisms.”

I’ve heard before that Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Ryan O’Neal were all considered for the part of Michael Corleone, but did you know Tommy Lee Jones was also considered? That surely would have been a different take on Michael. Of course Coppola fought really hard for stage actor Al Pacino who at that time had only one starring role in a feature film, Panic in Needle Park. One of the reasons Paramount didn’t like him was because he was so short, they didn’t believe he was a leading man, and referred to him as “that midget Pacino.”

All that is just fun facts about the filmmaking and casting process of the classic film. What’s most useful for screenwriters are the pages shown from Coppola’s “The Godfather Notebook” where he wrote out his thoughts on every scene. Coppola even took every single page of Puzo’s novel and wrote notes on it, with his thoughts of how he was going to write and film key scenes from the novel. Now that’s preparation, and great ideas for a screenwriter preparing for an adaptation.

Looking into the mind of one of the greats like Coppola and how he operated to construct a classic film are so helpful and fascinating, laying out the creative process of writing and filming one of the best films every made. The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay should surely be added to any screenwriter or filmmaker’s collection, as a study and reference guide.

Permanent link to this article: http://cinematicinspirations.com/2012/05/20/a-must-read-for-screenwriters-the-annotated-godfatherthe-complete-screenplay/

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