An unprecedented archive originating from the estate of author Mario Puzo will be auctioned by Boston-based RR Auction.
A highlight of the collection is Godfather I material that includes; thousands of pages, notes, and drafts, of a multitude of versions of both the novel manuscript and the film screenplay that sheds light on never-before-released information regarding Puzo’s character, scene, and dialogue development, and his legendary collaboration with director Francis Ford Coppola.
When Coppola signed on, he immediately corrected the studio on two main points: first, that this remain a period piece as the novel dictated (Paramount had planned to stage it in the 1970s); second, that they film primarily in New York City. Coppo- la also supported Puzo in his insistence that Brando play the Godfather, something the author had envisioned since he wrote the novel. Present in this archive is Puzo’s retained copy of the March 7,  letter he sent to Brando expressing his disappointment that he would likely not be cast. This correspondence reveals that the actor was approached by Puzo far earlier than most realize. The novel was not published until March 29, 1970 and screenplay adaptation did not begin until April, 1970. The director also championed for then unknown actor Al Pacino for the role of Michael Corleone and Puzo supported him. Eventually the studio relented on both counts— the writer-director team had perfectly cast the two most pivotal characters in the film.
Puzo and Coppola maintained a successful co-writing relationship by scripting sepa- rately—the novelist in New York and the director in San Francisco—autonomously revising each other’s work. Included in this collection is Puzo’s retained, hand-signed copy of an amazing content January 21, 1971 letter to Al Ruddy, Francis Ford Coppola, and Peter Bart, in part: “Michael’s fall from grace (Good guy to Murderer) should be more meaningful. After this (and I assume Francis will be re-writing this now) I feel it’s ready.” Also present here is an enlightening two-page Puzo note to Coppola regarding, “Notes on my corrections of your half.”
All in all, there are nine partial copies of the Godfather I script in various stages of completion, many of which have important notations in Puzo’s own hand; present is a beautiful handwritten piece of Vito dialogue where the author himself pens, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
On the same page, Puzo also wrote to Coppola, “I’m very sure Clemenza and Tessio should not know GF will kill Fanucci. This one time the murder should not be discussed.” Apparently at one point, the script included Fanucci being murdered in front of his family Puzo was opposed to this, and obviously won the argument. He wrote: “You cannot have Vito kill Fanucci with daughters present… it makes him less sympathetic. Remember these killings are business not personal. As sheer good manners, GFs do not kill men in front of their wives and children.”
Included is an original 744-page typed working draft manuscript (for The Godfather novel, then titled “Mafia,” featuring a plethora of important handwritten amendations by the novelist. In addition is the presence of six large oak tag storyboards outlining the lengthy nine-section novel. A later-stage 15-page handwritten outline of The Godfather novel’s nine sections is present as well, providing irrefutable proof that the novelist based character Johnny Fontane on Frank Sinatra.
”The Godfather” made the Corleones the most famous—and infamous—of Mafia families and the enduring myth defined the American Pop-culture landscape,” said Robert Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.
- A 744-page working draft manuscript for the Godfather novel, originally titled “Mafia.”
- Six large, storyboards outlining the Godfather novel’s progression.
- A 15-page handwritten Godfather novel outline revealing that Johnny Fontane was based on Frank Sinatra.
- Puzo’s 1965 Olympia typewriter, almost certainly used to write the Godfather novel .
- Countless examples of Puzo’s handwritten amendments to iconic aspects of the Godfather I and II screenplays; along with a couple of Coppola’s annotations.
- Insightful typed and handwritten correspondence between Puzo and Coppola regarding all three Godfather films.
- Puzo’s copy of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather ‘Bible’, an enormous, impeccably organized three-ring binder covering virtually every aspect of filming.
- Pages upon pages of fully handwritten Godfather I and II scenes and dialogue.
- Fantastic material illuminating the progression of Godfather II, from Puzo’s initial draft to the final product, with Coppola’s invaluable input.
- A couple of Puzo handwritten instances of “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
- Work on other important screenplays such as 1974’s Earthquake and 1978’s Superman
- First draft, hand-annotated manuscripts of the author’s books, including early works 1955’s The Dark Arena and his personal pride, 1965’s The Fortunate Pilgrim.
Expertly organized within 45 banker’s boxes, this collection surveys the lifework of Puzo on a scale never-before-seen, and is highlighted by the book-to-screen progression of the work that defined Puzo’s career.
Online bidding for the Literary Rarities auction from RR Auction will begin on February 11, 2016 and conclude on February 18, 2016, at 6PM ET. At 7:00PM ET, a live auction of the Mario Puzo Archive will take place at the company’s Boston Gallery. More details can be found online at www.rrauction.com.