Now Streaming: “The Offer,” the story of “The Godfather”

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“The Offer” tells the “Godfather” backstory, and that of Paramount Pictures. What could be better than a classic movie franchise? The behind-the-scenes biopic of a classic movie trilogy. (More on the trilogy part later.) Now streaming on Paramount +, is “The Offer.” The 10-episode season is available on the app. While there is only one season, hints of more to come were given in the series.

Mob influence and “The Godfather”

Depending on a viewer’s age, and perhaps level of naïveté, the shenanigans going on behind-the-scenes against the making of “The Godfather” are jaw-dropping to say the least. According to the movie’s plot, Frank Sinatra saw himself as Joey Fontaine and did not like the portrayal. Mobsters from the five families did not like how Italians were depicted. Mafia head, Joe Colombo, met with producer Alfred “Al” Ruddy. Ruddy is executive producer of “The Offer,” and the plot is based on what he recalls. Ruddy allowed Colombo to look at the script. The scene in which he arrives with his two henchmen to do just that is hilarious.

From a fan’s perspective, the casting of “The Godfather” seems perfect. Watching the series depict the arguments against those cast in now classic roles could be difficult for diehard fans. However, what is also interesting is seeing how well cast “The Offer” is. The roles of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan are terrifically played.

The real-life violence that on at least two occasions blurred with the violence of the movie is presented in a masterful way that will likely make longtime audiences shake their heads. Mobster Joe Gallo is presented as a terror who will not listen to reason. He is determined to get Colombo’s share of the movie budget; he does not believe Ruddy when he explains Colombo was not receiving anything. The moment when Gallo refuses to back down, when he tries to keep his promise to pick Ruddy dry, is both annoying and horrifying.

Because the setting of “The Offer” is the early 1970s, until 1972 when the movie is released and subsequently wins Oscars, astute will expect that women will always be treated badly. Sure, the sexism is there. But not in every man, and the key women always stick up for themselves in ways that are inspiring.

In addition to the peek inside the lives of producers and actors, it was nice to learn more about the writer of the novel, “The Godfather,” Mario Puzo. His diabetes, his uncertainty, his inability to lie, or at least to do so convincingly, all make him a lovable anti-hero. Viewers might find that they want “The Godfather” to do well simply because of Puzo. It should be noted that Puzo might not have written the now-classic novel if it were not for the writerly advice his wife gives him.

Hints are dropped among the production team in “The Offer” about “The Godfather Part II.” Ruddy wants no part, but the entire conversation might have been for viewers, who buckled down for the wild ride that was the story of the original “Godfather,” and who just might be ready to see what went on behind-the-scenes of Part II.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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