How’d They Do That? – The Godfather

Welcome back to How’d They Do That? In this series, we check out behind the scenes stills and video from the making of some of cinema’s greatest! Event Cinemas “In The House” cult film program continues this Friday with Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, so lets take a look at the making of this masterpiece.

Released in 1972, The Godfather was an absolute critical and commercial success – acclaim which continues to this day. The film is regarded as one of the defining and most influential pictures of the 20th century (and sits steady at number 2 on the IMDB top 250). The film was followed by an equally regarded sequel (and a second….lesser sequel), which further cemented The Godfather as a true classic.

Check out some of these amazing behind the scenes photos from the set of The Godfather.

First off the bat, are some pictures of the amazing work by makeup maestro Dick Smith, who help aged Brando and create various squibs and blood effects for the films more violent sequences. A unique challenge for Smith was Marlon Brando’s apprehension on using prosthetics (he didn’t want to sit in the makeup chair for hours) to create an aged Don Corleone. Fortunately, Dick Smith rose to the challenge and used a number of unconventional methods, such as a dental device that caused Brando’s jowls to droop. The end result was so impressive it, he ended up with the nickname ‘The Godfather of Makeup’.

Spoilers here on out, but come on! The film was released in 1972. Alright, you’ve had enough time! The next set of photos are from the assassination of Sonny Corleone (James Caan). Sonny is blown away by a set of Tommy guns in a fiery mix of blood and bullets. I love the first shot in the below slideshow, with James Caan connected to a bunch of wires, ready to pull squids and makeup effects off his body as its riddled with bullets. For the film, Dick Smith created the first every bleeding special effects in order to increase the realism of a gunshot wound. To do this, he created bladders that were hidden under form latex skin. A squib (small explosive device) would detonate this blood bladder, and the blood would pour out of a predetermined hole. Genius.

Ah yes, now we come to one of the shocking surprises from the film – the horse head in the bed. Did you know, that the head was real!? The story goes that Coppola was unimpressed with the faux heads they had build, so the production designer made a deal with a local pet food company to get the head of a horse who was on his way to becoming pet food. Somehow I don’t think they could swing this these days…


Finally, a collection of shots from the production from the film. It’s nice to see the normally serious Al Pacino goofing around! I also love the shot of Brando being taken up the stairs on the gurney. Apparently Brando was quite the prankster on set. He added weights to the gurney to difficult for his cast mates to lift him up the stairs. Oh Marlon!


Hope you’ve enjoyed this slideshow of behind the scenes photos from the making of The Godfather. Don’t forget, you can enjoy this epic motion picture where it belongs, on the big screen, this Friday night as part of Event Cinema’s In the House! Get your tickets below!

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