James Caan punches Gianni Russo in a scene from the film 'The Godfather', 1972. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
The Godfather Scene You Might Not Know Was Improvised
On the set of “The Godfather,” director Francis Ford Coppola encouraged the actors to improvise, and even had them have a meal together as their characters during rehearsal. One such improvised scene was done by James Caan (Sonny Corleone) during the opening wedding scene between Connie Corleone and Carlo Rizzi.
During the wedding, Sonny picks a fight with some people hanging outside of the Corleone home, who reveal themselves to be FBI agents. When one of them starts snapping pictures of him, Sonny grabs the camera and smashes it on the ground, and then after pausing for a moment, takes $20 out of his pocket and tosses the bills next to the broken camera.
In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Caan revealed that the scene with the camera and bills was improvised, as he realized in character “that in my neighborhood I did wrong.” It’s obvious as to why Coppola kept the scene, as it illustrated Sonny’s temper and the Corleone’s family code to repay their debts and seek forgiveness instead of permission, which sets up the character’s ultimate fate later on.