The show’s producer was Howard W. Koch. There were four co-hosts that night — Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Charlton Heston and Rock Hudson. The show aired on NBC, and the duration — hold on to your hats — was two hours and 38 minutes. Amazingly, they managed to keep it to this length while at the same time handing out Oscars for Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Live-Action Short, etc. (A friend reminds that the Makeup/Hairstyling category hadn’t been created at that point.)
Ruddy represented the heavy-hitter non-creatives behind The Godfather — himself, Robert Evans, Peter Bart, Charles Bluhdorn, Frank Yablans — but in various ways these guys made things hugely difficult for director Francis Coppola. Okay, maybe not Bart but certainly Evans and Bluhdorn, and to some extent Ruddy.
Five years ago a YouTube commenter wrote, “The Godfather producers were a bunch of assholes. They were against casting Brando and Pacino. They were against Nino Rota‘s score. They were against Gordon Willis‘ dark photography. They tried to have Coppola fired several times. If The Godfather is one of the best movies ever made, it is in spite of its producers, not thanks to them.”
There was more to it than just that, but the commenter is not wholly wrong.
According to Mark Seals‘ “The Godfather Wars” (Vanity Fair, March 2009), when Coppola announced that The Godfather “should not be a film about organized crime but a family chronicle, a metaphor for capitalism in America,” Evans’ reaction was “Is he nuts?”
On the other hand one of Evans’ earliest demands was that The Godfather would have to feel east-coast authentic, that audiences would be able to “smell the spaghetti.” And he did, according to some accounts, upbraid Coppola for initially submitting a shorter cut that lacked that spaghetti aroma, that de-emphasized the family stuff.