'Godfather' Month Continues with MoviePhone's 'Fact and Fiction' Post About Acclaimed American Film

'The Godfather' Month continues with a post separating the film's fact from its fiction (or trying to) as posted on Moviefone.com (amendments are included as correctives):

"My Mafia is a very romanticized myth," said "Godfather" novelist Mario Puzo, who claimed that he had never met any actual mobsters when he wrote his bestseller, and that his accounts of lurid crimes were based on archival research and imagination. Nor did Francis Ford Coppola have any direct knowledge of mob life when he and Puzo adapted the novel into a screenplay. Yet 40 years later, "The Godfather" is widely considered one of the most accurate movies about the Mafia, even though all its characters are fictional. Part of that is canny mythmaking on the part of Puzo and Coppola, but much of it comes from the real-life Mafia lore that is only thinly disguised in the movie. Which of the movie's notorious deeds are based on fact, and which are invented out of whole cloth? Read on.

The Don

Aside from big events like his daughter's wedding, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is a quiet man who keeps a low profile, running his crime empire from his unassuming olive oil import storefront. Coppola has said he's a combination of mid-century crime bosses Vito Genovese (who like his fictional counterpart, eschewed drug dealing) and Joe Prifaci [Ed. Note: PROFACI! Unbelievable, MoviePhone!]. Another likely inspiration is Carlo Gambino, another quiet, unflashy man who, through assassinations and betrayals, became head of the mob family that bears his name and the most powerful Mafioso in New York. LIke Brando's character, Gambino lived on a suburban estate outside Manhattan and died peacefully of a heart attack when he was old and still a free man.

[Note: Puzo's mother was the true inspiration! Why does everyone get that wrong? See "related posts" listed below.]

The Five Families
The business meeting where Vito calls together the heads of the mob families (the five New York families and others from around the country) is based on similar real-life meetings. "The Commission" was the name the Mafia gave to the ruling council that included the five New York families and the families from other territories. As in the movie, the Commission existed to settle disputes. Unlike in the movie, there was no moral squeamishness among Commission members over drug dealing, and mob-related narcotics busts were frequent. There were occasional bans on drug trafficking, but only because sentences were so severe that they were an incentive for indicted mob soldiers to turn state's evidence.

[It was supposed to be the Commission for Peace -- or Della Commissione della Pace or some variation thereof, only the American Mafiosi couldn't pronounce it, so it became known as simply the Commission. Pretty funny. Despite the waves it created, Bonanno's book "A Man of Honor" is worth a read by all true students of Mafia history. The Commission was an American invention, too, specifically Luciano's; there was no corresponding outfit in Sicily.]

The Restaurant

The turning point of "The Godfather" comes when Michael (Al Pacino) lures two of his enemies to an outer-borough Italian restaurant and shoots them with a gun planted in the bathroom. That's more or less how one of the most pivotal hits in mob history went down. In 1931, Lucky Luciano met old-time boss Giuseppe Masseria at a Coney Island eatery called Nuovo Villa Tammaro. He excused himself to go to the bathroom, and that's when the hit happened. Luciano wasn't one of the shooters; the assassination was carried out by Vito Genovese, Joe Adonis, Albert Anastasia, and Bugsy Siegel. That whacking made Luciano and his hit squad the new leaders of organized crime in New York and gave rise to the modern Mafia.

The Exile

After the hit, Michael flees to Sicily. He seems to be emulating Vito Genovese, who ran off to Italy in 1937 to evade murder charges. During the war, however, he helped U.S. Army Intelligence by putting local black marketeers out of business (and secretly taking control of their operations). The government dropped the charges against him, allowing him to return to America. Lucky Luciano also went to Italy, having been deported in 1946. He never returned to America, but he continued to exert influence from abroad, working with Meyer Lansky to invest in casinos in Cuba (as Michael Corleone did with Hyman Roth, the Lansky-like character in "The Godfather Part II"). Like Michael, Luciano fell in love with a much younger Italian woman and lived with her until her death. Unlike in "The Godfather," they were never married, and she died of breast cancer, not a car bomb.

Read the rest, and there are some good ones, so click the link: 'The Godfather' Anniversary: Fact and Fiction


Basciano's Attorneys Take Their Defense From 'The Godfather'

Cosa Nostra News: The Godfather Effect


  1. Another good, solid article from Ed!
    I love it!


  2. Thanks HK, but I have to say, I didn't write it... I linked to it on Moviephone... If you read the top, you'll see I credit them. I always like to make that clear -- I write stories -- check out my top two today, both originals by moi -- but I also link to stories from other sites...I am sending you the ebook now, buddy from "L" company...

    1. Yeah I see that now.
      I think I got carried away a little bit when I saw the famous Godfather "logo". Hell of a movie...

      I just recieved the free ebook. I´ve glanced through it and so far it looks very good. Í like the fact that you do a lot of digging on your own and go into the depth in some of the stories, making the stories more interesting to read.
      Who´s Jerry Capeci?


    2. Oh...forgot to mention.
      Your comments in the article are right on the money!



Post a Comment