Corleone Family Values: The Godfather Part II at 40


Francis Ford Coppola didn’t want to make a sequel to his 1972 Oscar-winning blockbuster, recommending Martin Scorsese, fresh off Mean Streets, for the job. He finally said yes when Robert Evans of Paramount Pictures agreed that Part II could include extensive flashbacks of the young Vito Corleone, played by Mean Streets comer Robert De Niro. Marlon Brando was out because he wanted too much money, and the Clemenza character got dropped because Richard Castellano wanted his dialogue to be written by a friend. Director Elia Kazan, the first choice to play Hyman Roth, spent so much time with his shirt off during a conversation with Coppola that when Lee Strasberg was hired for the role, Coppola insisted he play one scene topless. That’s Francis’s mother Italia in the casket as the deceased Mama Corleone — actress Morgana King thought it bad luck to lie in a coffin — and…

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