“Part II" was released two years after the “The Godfather: Part I” and it is widely considered the best sequel of all time. To some, the sequel even surpasses the original. “The Godfather: Part III” would come in 1990, but the third time was not quite the charm.
Here are some fun facts that you may not have known about “Part II” on its 40th anniversary:
1. De Niro, the Method Actor
To prepare for his role as Vito Corleone, De Niro, lived in Sicily and learned the Italian dialect. Nearly all of De Niro’s dialogue in the film was in Sicilian.
2. De Niro Was Almost Cast in the Original
The famous flashback scene at the end of “Part II” was also supposed to include a small cameo from Brando. Brando didn’t show up on the day of filming because of legal issues and problems between the actor and Paramount.
3. The Brando-De Niro Connection
4. Sequels Get No Love From Oscar
Coppola originally didn’t want to direct a sequel because of a tenuous relationship with Paramount during the filming of the original, according to the Oscar-winning director. In the commentary for “The Godfather DVD Collection,” Coppola revealed he recommended Martin Scorsese to direct the film.
6. Offer Pacino Couldn't Refuse
Pacino was paid $600,000 for his role in the sequel. Not bad for the time, but when you consider his salary for Part I -– a measly $35,000 -– it shows you how much Pacino’s stock rose in such a short time.
7. Best Adapted Screenplay?
“Part II” won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay even though only half the script was actually adapted. The story of Michael Corleone was written specifically for the film while the story of Vito Corleone came from "The Godfather novel" written by Mario Puzo, which was published in 1969.
8. 'Part II' Got Off to a Rough Start
Coppola later revealed in another documentary that “Part II” didn't test well in previews leading up to its release. The issue was the cutting back and forth to Michael Corleone’s storyline and the flashback scenes with the young Vito Corleone. Coppola and his editors worked in the cutting room to make the narrative flow better up until the film was released nationwide.