Forty years ago today, The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Mario Puzo's bestselling novels opened in five NYC movie theaters. The NY Times' Clyde Haberman notes that fact plus many others about the ground-breaking film in his column today. For instance: "The Corleone family compound, supposedly on Long Island, was actually in the Emerson Hill section of Staten Island. Luca Brasi, he who winds up sleeping with the you-know-what, is stabbed in the Edison Hotel. Michael Corleone makes his bones as a hitman at a restaurant in the Bronx. He and Kay stay at the St. Regis Hotel. There are shots of East Harlem, Mott Street, Radio City Music Hall and the old Best & Co. store on Fifth Avenue."
The "Corleone mansion" was in the news over a year ago when it hit the market, but we found this tidbit about the restaurant where Michael Corleone kills Solozzo and Captain McCluskey interesting. While the scene was filmed at Louie's Restaurant, 1010 WINS reports, "Coppola originally wanted it Mario’s Restaurant on Arthur Avenue, since the eatery was mentioned in Mario Puzo’s novel."
However, Mario Migliucci refused—his son explained that he wanted the focus on the food, "He didn’t want that stigma here... We’re still in business, we’re going on our 93rd year. So what does it tell you? Did it hurt us? No.” 1010 WINS adds, "The same can’t be said for Louie’s. The restaurant closed down shortly after the Godfather shoot."
Anyway, on March 16, 1972, Times film critic Vincent Canby's review began, "Taking a best-selling novel of more drive than genius (Mario Puzo's "The Godfather"), about a subject of something less than common experience (the Mafia), involving an isolated portion of one very particular ethnic group (first-generation and second-generation Italian-Americans), Francis Ford Coppola has made one of the most brutal and moving chronicles of American life ever designed within the limits of popular entertainment." And here's Pauline Kael's review of the film in The New Yorker.