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James Caan explains why he walked out of ‘The Godfather’ screening


Celebrating its 50th year anniversary in 2022, The Godfather by director Francis Ford Coppola is still considered one of the greatest films ever made even half a century since its release. Inspiring such celebrated series’ as The Sopranos and even Succession, it’s hard to believe where we would be without the iconic gangster film. 

As fans, critics and series actors reflect on the eternal influence of the trilogy, James Caan has recently revealed that he walked out of a screening of the film back in 1972 when Coppola cut one of his key scenes. 

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about the incident, Caan, who plays Sonny, the eldest son of Don Vito Corleone, stated,  “When Michael [Al Pacino] tells me he is going to take care of the cop and Sollozzo [Al Lettieri], I say, ‘You’ll get brains all over your nice Ivy League suit. There was a scene before in the same room that I had with Bobby [Duvall] that was like 10 pages long — and Francis cut all of it out! I was so pissed off, I couldn’t watch the rest of the film”.

Addressing further behind the scenes details, Caan also discussed rumours that he disliked Gianni Russo, who played Carlo Rizzi, on the set of the film. Clearing up the mere title-tattle, the actor explained, “He had a fight with someone else. Not me…“I did the fight scene with stuntman Paul Baxley. He came in, and we made up the whole fight. And everything you saw in there is something that Paul and I created the day before”. 

Changing the landscape of cinema upon the film’s release in 1972, gangster movies looked a lot different back at the dawn of commercial Hollywood, often feeling like elaborate dress-up rather than intricate drama. The arrival of Francis Ford Coppola’s film would change everything. 

Legitimising the genre as an art form, it was the release of The Godfather that would change the fortunes of gangster cinema, with the ripples from its indelible impact still being felt in pop culture half a century since its release.