”Leave the gun; take the cannoli,” is easily one of the most quoted lines from "The Godfather” (1972); the line is so simple, so straight forward, so typically Italian, but that is not how it was written in the original script. Scripts evolve as the actors, writers, producers and directors integrate ideas with personal experiences to create art. Rarely does this art become the masterpiece that is The Godfather. Johnny Martino was one of many contributors that helped transform the original script into the finished product.
Presented is one of only a handful of known original scripts from The Godfather. Sources approximate that twenty-two were made and fewer survive. The script is a remarkable American artifact and comes from the original owner, actor Johnny Martino, who played Paulie Gatto in the movie. The multitude of stories about the filming of The Godfather are at times exaggerated, even mythical, but the following first-person accounts shed light on why and how Francis Ford Coppola was able to create such an authentic tale. Start with Johnny Martino reading for the part of Paulie; that day in Los Angeles Martino read with Gary Marshall (as Clemenza), and his strong Italian roots helped get him the role over men like Robert DeNiro and Jerry Orbach. Once he arrived in New York City for filming, Martino’s presence on the set and his influence on the entire film was quickly felt; he was even Al Pacino’s Italian tutor. In a scene where the character Paulie was to drive a stick shift, Coppola asked him if he could drive around the block, so Coppola could see how good Martino drove the vintage 1941 car. When in the car, Coppola asked Martino about the “in and outs” of the mafia scene in New York and Brooklyn. Martino, who was born in Brooklyn in 1937 to Italian-born parents, became a highly influential and valued asset. Simple changes and “adlibs” in the script became apparent once filming began. In the opening scene of the movie (the wedding of Connie and Carlo) Clemenza and Paulie were talking about how much money was in the silk purse on Connie’s arm, and the line was originally written, “Who knows? Maybe more. Twenty, thirty grand in small bills in that silk purse, Holy Toledo, if this was somebody else’s wedding!” But the term “Holy Toledo” was not authentic to a mobster from Brooklyn, so Martino adlibbed the line and said “Madone Sfortunato” (loose translation, God that’s unfortunate). Martino’s most famous scene (and his last scene in the movie) starts on page 54 of the script at Clemenza’s home where Paulie, Rocco and Clemenza take a drive to look for safe houses. On page 58, Paulie gets “whacked” and Clemenza’s line was supposed to be “Leave the gun,” but once again Martino’s influence was once again used as Clemenza added, “Take the cannoli.”
The actual script is in excellent, albeit used, condition. It has a maroon, faux leather cover and is bound with brass braids, measuring 8x11. The interior pages are crisp and clean with only a few markings on some of Martino’s lines. The most important of all is the title page where (10) signatures from prime characters in the movie appear. The signatures include Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), Marlon Brando (secretarial, Vito Corleone), Al Martino (d.2009, Johnny Fontane), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen), Alex Rocco (Moe Green), Francis Ford Coppola (director, screenplay writer), James Caan (Sonny Corleone), Gianni Russo (Carlo Rizzi), Fred Gallo (assistant director) and Johnny Martino (Paulie Gatto). All signatures appear in blue or black ink, save the Brando, which is in black marker, and grade in the (“8-9”) range. The (9) ink signatures were obtained, by Martino, at the 1997 25th Anniversary gala in San Francisco. The Marlon Brando signature has its own story. In late 1998, Martino returned to Columbia Studios where his personal friend and the head of post-production called in nephew Miko Brando (son of Marlon) and requested the script to be signed by the Hollywood icon. Miko returned two hours later with the script signed and only recently has it proven to be a secretarial by industry experts. The autographs on the script come with a pair of full photo LOAs; one from PSA/DNA and one from James Spence Authentications (JSA). To attest to the authenticity of the script (and not the signatures) are a letter from John Martino, his own personally signed biography sheet, and a signed headshot photograph. Martino had a special leather folder made for this monumental script that has an appliquéd overlay that reads, “The Godfather – Paulie Gatto – John Martino.”
Click below to see John Martino's IMDB profile:
John Martino on IMDB