Al Pacino, James Caan, Talia Shire, Alex Rocco and most of the surviving cast of “The Godfather” trekked to San Francisco on March 20 to join Francis Ford Coppola in screening a smartened-up print of “The Godfather,” which opened the next night for a limited run. Apparently Paramount Pictures, which hosted the preem, made Marlon Brando an offer he could refuse, because the man who played the Godfather was a no-show. Rumor had it that Brando, who was paid only $50,000 for the film (plus a gross participation, which he sold back to the studio), asked for $100,000 to make the preem, and Par said no, stressing its refusal was strictly business, nothing personal.
Despite Brando’s no-show, the evening was triumphant — the audience vigorously applauded the famous set pieces as well as key lines of dialogue. The post-screening party at Bimbo’s 365 Club, an Italian nitery, lasted into the wee hours, with Par’s present management, led by Sherry Lansing, Jonathan Dolgen, John Goldwyn and Michelle Manning, mixing with the studio team that guided the pic through production a quarter-century ago, led by Robert Evans and Peter Bart, now Variety VP and editor-in-chief.
At one point, Coppola and Evans, who’ve feuded over the years, were seen embracing. Al Ruddy, the producer, introduced the cast, pointing out that not everyone could be present — some were dead and some in jail.
Some of the present Par execs, chatting with industryites like Frank Mancuso, Jake Bloom, Rick Nicita and Jim Berkus, were heard observing that had “The Godfather” been a new film released today, it would surely sweep the Oscars just as it did a quarter-century ago. “It’s simply the best movie Paramount ever made,” Dolgen said.