Previously, in Episode 3 of “The Offer,” we saw that Albert Ruddy was able to convince Joseph Colombo to let him go ahead with the pre-production of the film, “The Godfather.” He had called the mafia leader to Paramount’s office and promised to let him read the script. Colombo was rather overwhelmed by this gesture from Ruddy. He not only agrees to let him make the film but takes a vow to aid him in the process, in whatever manner he can. Al Pacino was being roped in to play Michael Corleone, and Bob Evans was totally against it. He wanted a commercially viable option, but Francis Ford Coppola was adamant. He could only see Pacino playing the role of the youngest son of Don Vito Corleone. Mario Puzo had gotten a response from the greatest actor of the time, Marlon Brando. He was willing to play the role of Don Corleone. Bob Evans had a near escape, and the rumors of him getting sacked (which were not rumors at all) were put to rest. With things back on track, the desired actors getting on board, and the mafia out of the way, Al Ruddy thought that he would finally turn his dream into reality and make the greatest film of all time. But it seemed like “The Godfather” was cursed, and whenever the crew thought that they had crossed all the barriers, they found themselves standing in front of a mountain, even more massive than whatever they had encountered before.
Directed by Adam Arkin, ‘The Offer’ Episode 4, titled ‘The Right Shade of Yellow,’ takes us through the issues, the barriers, and the challenges that came in Al Ruddy’s way, and how he chose to deal with it.
How Did Coppola Convince Charlie Bluhdorn To Cast Marlon Brando?
Joe Gallo was on the loose. Joseph Colombo had told the other families that he would handle the hardened criminal, but he knew deep down that Gallo was a loose cannon. He sent his men with money, but Gallo told them that he didn’t want their charity and that he had another family now. The problem was that Al Ruddy was now an ally of Colombo’s, and there was a possibility that Gallo would take steps against Ruddy, just to set an example. Ruddy’s friend, who was a cop, warns him about the same. On the other hand, Colombo knew that he wouldn’t take the petty cash that he sent for him. He just wanted to irk him and put the ball in his court and then wait and see what next step he takes next. Joseph Colombo had played this game earlier, and he knew that right now, he couldn’t do anything but wait for Gallo’s next move.
Love Story was a huge hit, and Bob Evans had finally gotten a hit under his belt. He wanted to keep the streak going, so he put pressure on Ruddy to be cautious with “The Godfather” and deliver no matter what. Things were not great between Al Ruddy and his wife, Francoise. She felt that they were not welcomed at the premiere of “Love Story” and it made her embarrassed. Ruddy tells her that this is what one needs to do, even if it shatters their self-esteem and ego. He tells her that she wouldn’t understand it as she doesn’t know what it takes to be a self-made individual or even a producer. Their marriage started to creak, and they started going to a marriage counselor. Ruddy was under such intense pressure and was piled up with so much work that he was not finding time to address the issues that he was facing with his wife. That is the flip side of trying to chase your dreams. Often, we see that people who are driven by passion and not by obligation have a botched-up personal life. These are the people who do not do something just for the monetary value attached to it, but for the love of it. There is just one reason behind the stereotype, i.e., the person always prioritizes their work before their personal life. Is it something wrong on their part? That is a matter of debate, but the fact remains that family, friends, and every other aspect takes a back seat, and then eventually, they find themselves standing alone, at a juncture where going back and course-correcting is not an option anymore. Ruddy loved Francoise, but maybe he loved “The Godfather” a little more.
Ruddy, his assistant Bettye, Francis Coppola, and Mario Puzo visit Marlon Brando at his place. They are all starstruck by the aura of the maestro and, at the same time, a bit nervous and scared due to his reputation. Brando tells them the things he had in mind about the physicalities of the character. He tells them that he sees the Don with a protruding jaw and a gruff, hoarse voice. He paints his hair black using shoe polish, puts a paper napkin in his mouth, and says the words from the script, “Bonasera Bonasera.” All four of them came out of his house spellbound. They saw magic happening. The man disappeared in front of their eyes, and they saw him transform into Don Vito Corleone, and that too, in a flip second. They knew that with Marlon Brando on board, they would create something spectacular. Seizing the opportunity, Francis Coppola shot a 3-minute video when he was transforming into the character.
Charlie Bluhdorn, Barry Lapidus, and everyone else were against casting Brando for more than one reason. Firstly, “The Godfather” was supposed to be a low-budget film, and Brando’s fee was very high. Secondly, the actor was infamous for his tantrums, and the production team didn’t want any hassle on the set. But Francis Coppola manages to show that 3-minute home video to Charlie Bluhdorn, who in turn convinces Bob to see the same. After watching the magical act, they cannot help but agree with Francis and Mario Puzo’s first choice for the role of Don Vito Corleone.
Protests to stop the film rose in the Italian American community, which was being instigated constantly by Frank Sinatra and Congressman Mario Biaggi. Joseph Colombo once again came to meet Al Ruddy in his office. Ruddy told him that he would cut down the role of the character, Johnny Fontane, to a bare minimum. Once again, Joseph feels overwhelmed and looks for an opportunity to pay back Ruddy. While he was leaving the Paramount Office, he heard Francis Coppola losing his temper over an issue. The house they had finalized for the opening sequence was no longer available. The owner had called and told them that he didn’t want to give it to them anymore.
New York Congressman Mario Biaggi called the house owner and told him to call off the deal. The house owner was picked up by Joseph Colombo and threatened, so much so that he peed in his pants. Colombo wanted to do this in order to return the favor, as Ruddy had done so much for him. But this made Ruddy realize the kind of people he was dealing with. He didn’t want to be in debt to such dangerous people who wouldn’t even flinch once before pulling the trigger.
‘The Offer’ Episode 4: Ending Explained – Did Bob Evans agree to Al Pacino being cast in “The Godfather”?
Francis Ford Coppola was not happy, even when Marlon Brando was finally brought on board. That was because he wanted Pacino to play the character of Michael Corleone, and Bob Evans was vehemently against it. Bob wanted a well-known actor for the role, whom he could trust. Al Ruddy knew that he had to do something. He couldn’t afford to lose Coppola, without whom there would be no Godfather. He arranges a private meeting with Charlie Bluhdorn and goes to meet him without telling Bob Evans. He convinces Charlie to trust him and Francis one last time and let them make this creative decision. Al Ruddy feels bad about going behind Evans’ back. But he had no choice. He had to trust the creative instincts of Coppola.
When Bob comes to know of this, he starts fuming with anger. He calls Al Ruddy to give him a piece of his mind. He demands that they cast James Caan in the role of Sonny Corleone. Francis wanted Carmine Caridi to play the character. But this time, Ruddy tells Coppola to let Bob keep his dignity as he already had two big fish, and he could compromise a little bit when it came to smaller roles.
But there was another problem waiting for Ruddy. Al Pacino, thinking that he wouldn’t be offered the role, had signed a film with MGM named “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.” Complications and problems seemed to have become a constant ally of Ruddy’s. His wife Francoise had left him, he was dealing with the mafia and was scared to death, and now, after crossing every hurdle, he came to know that Al Pacino had signed a contract with MGM. He questions why he was taking so much pain for merely making a film. Why was he making it a matter of life and death? That’s when Andrea Eastman told him something. Something that every artist can relate to. She says that every artist runs from home, and fights with people for one simple reason: they want to be a part of this circus, this mad race, that we refer to as the entertainment industry. She says that if Ruddy thinks that not having a normal family i.e a wife, kids etc. is making him miserable, then that is not the case. She tells him that all he wants in his life right now is for a man named Al Pacino to pretend to be a man named Michael Corleone and it is fine to feel miserable about the fact and make a gigantic issue out of it. That’s what made them different and only a person who was a part of this circus could truly understand their motivations.
Ruddy understood that it was his calling. Films were his first love, and at no cost, he was ready to compromise with his dreams. That night, he slept with Andrea, and he buckled up and got ready for the hustle that awaited him.