“The Offer” is the Paramount Plus mini series about the making of “The Godfather.”
The iconic gangster film is over 50 years old, but the stories about the difficulties in making the film have been legendary for years.
Robert Evans became the producer of “The Godfather” movies after the first film hit it big, but Albert Ruddy of Canada was listed as the producer on the first poster and had to solve many problems for the production to go forward. For one thing, Paramount studio chief Robert Evans didn’t want Al Pacino to play Michael Corleone. He wanted Robert Redford.
Also, Frank Sinatra had antagonized the Mafia over the popular book’s film version. He was unhappy thinking that the portrayal of a washed-up mobbed-up singer in the book was based on him. In the film, Vic Damone ultimately played the part.
Giovanni Ribosi plays the part of Mob boss Tony Columbo; it is Columbo whom Al Ruddy has to get in good with, in order to get the approval of the Italian American community to let the film be made. The drama when Columbo is shot and Crazy Joey Gallo takes over at a key momnt in filming is intense.
Miles Teller plays Al Ruddy. He is the central character in this one, whereas he played second fiddle to Tom Cruise in “Top Gun: Maverick.” (Still, it is a step up from “Spiderhead,” which was a waste of Teller’s talents).
Colin Hanks portrays Barry Lapidus, a studio executive, and Burn Gorman plays a really-over-the-top Charlie Bludhorne, another bean counter for the studio. It is hard to understand how Bludhorne, the Gulf & Western executive, would ever be placed in the position of authority.
Matthew Goode’s interpretation of Robert Evans made him sound as though he had a perpetual head cold. While Goode looked slightly like the thin, elegantly clad Evans (whose family owned Evan-Picone), he could have resembled Evans more had he been tanner. There are even references to Evans perpetual tan in the script, but Matthew Goode looked normal. Evans also constantly uses the phrase “Booby.” This may be historically accurate, but it was a noticeable affectation.
The film portrays Evans as very upset over third wife Ali McGraw’s leaving him for Steve McQueen (they were making “The Getaway”), but, in real life, Evans was married 7 times and lived to be 89. Evans did have a conviction for dealing cocaine in 1980 (he denied he was a dealer). Evans name came up in connection with what came to be known as the Cotton Club murder, but he was not convicted for that crime.
The production values for the 10-part series are good and there is interesting cinematography, as with the scenes in the last episode supposedly shot at the Academy Awards. (Note all the empty seats behind Teller, which would never happen at the Oscars). Aside from Meredith Garretson, who plays Ali McGraw, the most prominent female rule is filled by Juno Temple (“Killer Joe”) who plays Bettye McCartte.
The look-alike actors in the piece, doppelgangers playing everyone from Robert Redford to Marlon Brando, are generally not very convincing, in terms of their resemblance to the originals. For instance, the Jimmy Caan individual is much too tall and substantial to play Jimmy Caan. Anthony Ippolito is closer to resembling Al Pacino and the Brando actor gets the voice right.
The intricate plot is improved by the shooting that took place in Sicily and the stories that emanated from the original filming are the stuff of legend.
By the 10th episode, we are told that Al Ruddy does not want to produce the sequels to “The Godfather.” The reason why has to do with his desire to produce “The Longest Yard” with Burt Reynolds. This is saluted as a brave decision, but, in light of the huge success of the first movie, it seems like a very poor lifetime choice, especially since Ruddy’s claim to fame up to that point was only as the producer of “Hogan’s Heroes.” Ruddy did go on to produce “Million Dollar Baby” for and with Clint Eastwood and it was Al Ruddy whom Eastwood contacted when he decided to play the lead in “Cry Macho,” a story that he remembered had been kicking around in Hollywood for a while.
The filmmakers are very fortunate to have both Al Ruddy (age 92) still alive and Al Pacino (among other original cast members) to share their true life stories about filming this iconic film. The director of four of the episodes is Adam Arkin and, generally, the entire 10 episode series is intriguing and entertaining. One does question the comment made at the very end of the series that “The Godfather” is considered the best movie ever made. I know that the films I have heard referenced in tis way include “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and “Apocalypse Now.” There is no question that “The Godfather” belongs in the company of those other films, but saying it is THE best film ever made may be a stretch.