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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mario Puzo and The Godfather

I did a post on March 15, 2012, entitled “What defines Epic?”
It was the fortieth anniversary of “The Godfather” opening up at theaters.  The three hour epic movie chronicling the lives of the Corleones, and Italian-American crime family, adapted from the bestselling book of the same name by author Mario Puzo.
When something adapted from a book survives and becomes so universally well-known after forty years, it isn’t just epic, but it becomes Iconic.  The following picture is Red Buttons, Mario Puzo, and Marlon Brando on the set of the movie for The Godfather.
Mario Puzo was born October 15, 1920.  He was an Italian American author and screenwriter, known for his novels about the Mafia, including The Godfather (1969), which he co-adapted into a film by Francis Ford Coppola.  Mario Puzo won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in both 1972 and 1974.
Mario Puzo’s first four books were as follows.
1955                The Dark Arena
1965                The Fortunate Pilgrim
1966                The Runaway Summer of Davie Shaw
1967                Six Graves to Munich (Written as Mario Cleri)
1969                The Godfather
Mario Puzo did go on and write six other books after The Godfather before he died on July 2, 1999.
The Godfather became a number one bestseller for months on the New York Times Best Seller List.  Later developed into the movie of the same name “The Godfather” received 11 Academy Award nominations, winning three.  Coppola and Puzo then collaborated on the sequels to the original film, The Godfather Part II, and The Godfather Part III.
Mario Puzo originally got 75,000 dollars for film rights for the “The Godfather”, an epic film that since 1972, in 40 years has made over a billion dollars.  I recently heard Mr. Puzo’s family is trying to take who ever to task, in court, to get what they feel is their fair share of this fortune.
Of course to be fair 75,000 dollars in 1972 in today’s dollars accounting for inflation would be about 411,071 dollars, and it did cement the deal for the future to work on the Godfather II and III, and catapult him into the public spotlight as forever being the author of “The Godfather.”  It earned him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Indie Authors get to keep all their rights to their work, we earn a higher percentage of profit per copy sold of our work, but we also are required to almost everything ourselves or pay up front to have it done for us.  I was six in 1972 and have no idea what Mr. Puzo thought of his deal he made for the rights to his movie.  If he was upset by it and felt cheated I don’t think he would have gone on to make two more movies with Coppola.
I am really fearful of the day one of my books hit it big and makes a best sellers list.  I dread the day a publisher approaches me asking if I have representation because they would like to traditionally publish a re-release of one my books.  Besides the obvious pain in the butt of rehashing a story yet again, a lesson I have learned all too well with waiting to get the second half corrections of my second book “No Rules Of Engagement” and holding up the re-release of it.  This is the third edit for that book in just over one year.  This re-edit has put my entire writing career on hold waiting until this book is finished.  I’ve written two other novels in the last year and they are shelved for the time being, waiting!
As any author would love the attention of a big publishing house giving them attention, throwing professional editors at them, cover art teams, professionals deciding how every single page of the book would look its very best.  Yet it would throw the brakes on yet again, take two steps back for one big step forward.  I wish Mr. Puzo’s family all the best but he made his deals and because the movie as a whole, which takes on many other facets than just the story and the script, takes in a whopping one billion dollars over forty years, doesn’t necessarily mean they should be entitled to more money now.  Movies incorporate the music, actors, cinematography, advertising, changing the formats the movies are available in as the mediums change.
The music, the casting, and everything about the movie was first class and done extremely well which all adds to the movies lasting greatness over forty years.  I think as authors we could all pray our stories get picked up and done in such an outstanding fashion and become epic Iconic stories!
The following is the link to my March 15, 2012, post on the 40 th Anniversary of movie.


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