On this date in 1972, Francis Ford Coppola introduced audiences to The Godfather. The film shocked viewers and became the biggest box-office draw of the year, or of any year up to that point. It won three Oscars, and is ranked by the American Film Institute as the #2 greatest movie ever, behind only Citizen Kane. But the film went through a lot of changes during production, and it wasn’t an easy project.
Mob boss Joseph Colombo Sr., who felt he was being harassed by the feds, founded the Italian-American Civil Rights League, which led to the picketing of the New York City FBI headquarters in 1970 (a quarter of a million people showed up). The organization also attacked The Godfather and rallied to stop production. “It became clear very quickly that the Mafia — and they did not call themselves the Mafia — did not want our film made. We started getting threats,” a production assistant said in a 2009 interview. Colombo did manage to get the words “Mafia” and “Cosa Nostra” struck from the script. Eventually, mob members became a fixture on set (several were extras) and showed their support.
That’s just one of the 25 things you can learn about The Godfather at Flavorwire.