The number one question Paramount’s The Offer miniseries asks you is how much you’re willing to risk to achieve your goals and follow your passion. What will that one moment be when you finally accept defeat and say you’re done chasing your dreams? Episode 7 of “The Offer” entitled “Mr. Producer” takes us through the series of personal losses and obstacles Bob Evans and AL Ruddy faced in trying to make a film no one seemed to believe in. Her credibility was questioned at every stage, but call it magic or stubbornness, the producers weren’t ready to finish it. They knew they were creating something great and they believed in their abilities. There were times when the world seemed to fall apart, but they gathered the broken fragments, glued them together, and moved on. In doing so, they have done things unprecedented in the production business and indeed set a precedent for generations to come. The studio’s internal politics and the search for the right actor for the role of Michael Corleone were endless. He was confident in his decisions, and he knew if anyone could pull off the complexity of Michael’s character, it would be this enigmatic theater actor named Al Pacino. But he wasn’t in the line of fire. It was Al Ruddy and Bob Evans who had to ensure they provided the right logistics and an autonomous environment to allow Coppola’s creativity and craftsmanship to shine.
The Horsehead, the Cat and New York’s Underbelly
The Getaway was filmed in Horizon City, Texas. Bob Evans had promised Ali MacGraw, his partner who starred in the film, that he would come with her, but Charlie Bluhdorn had decided to fire Al Ruddy from the post of producer and Bob knew he had to do some damage control . Bob couldn’t devote much time to his relationship, which made Ali feel neglected. She was having a secret affair with Steve McQueen, and Bob realized that when he reached the sets of The Getaway to surprise Ali. Evans had no one to blame but himself. He had taken MacGraw for granted and he knew it would backfire eventually.
The crew had many internal conflicts. It wasn’t easy working with Francis. He was unwilling to compromise with his vision and the crew, particularly Gordon Willis, who was in charge of the lighting, found his rude behavior hard to put up with. The lighting of the scene where Don Vito Corleone meets the wedding attendees was dimly lit and Gordon missed the point as the actors improvised and moved without any hint. He gets into a heated argument with Coppola and decides to leave the film, but Ruddy somehow manages to convince him to stay on board and asks Coppola to apologize.
Francis wanted everything to be perfect. He wasn’t happy with the horse’s head prop as it looked too fictitious. So Ruddy asked Caesar, who handled the unions and worked for Joseph Colombo, to arrange a real head because they couldn’t find anyone who could create the prop as realistically as Francis wanted. Caesar uses his contacts and gets the severed head of a real horse. Francis then needed someone to play Luca Brasi as the actor who played him was no longer available. Because the character’s physicality was so specific, they couldn’t find a man to play her. Ruddy again asks Lenny Montana, who was also one of Joseph Colombo’s men, to play the part. Ruddy overcame every barrier and fulfilled all of Francis’ special requests because he knew The Godfather was going to be a life-changing phenomenon for him and everyone else involved.
“The Offer” Episode 7: The Ending Explained – Have Jack Ballard and Aram Avakian Coppola Been Removed?
Barry Lapidus was always jealous and envious of the control and autonomy Evans enjoyed. He had tried several times to sabotage the relationship with Charlie, but Evans always found a way to defeat him. Through Jack and Aram, he got his hands on the raw footage of each day and showed it to Charlie so he could pit him against Ruddy and Evans. At first, Barry questioned Pacino’s craft and whether he would be able to pull off the character of Michael Corleone. Next, they got their hands on footage of the wedding scene, in which Don Vito Corleone sits in a dimly lit room, granting favors. The scene looked very boring because Gordon Willis wanted to use darkness as a metaphor, and as Barry puts it, whatever Marlon Brando was muttering was completely inaudible. Barry asks Jack and Aram to provide him with enough raw material so he can use it as evidence and prove Francis Ford Coppola’s incompetence. He had told his two spies on set to be ready to take care of the film as soon as Ruddy and Coppola were fired.
Now Ruddy had to prove two things: first, that Al Pacino was the right choice for the role, and second, that the raw footage didn’t match what the final product would look like. Ruddy asks Francis to film a scene where he can showcase Pacino’s skills. Coppola knew right away that the scene where Michael Corleone shoots Sollozzo would do the trick. It was a scene that marked the character’s transformation, where a war hero was now ready to get his hands dirty and take over the underworld.
Charlie Bluhdorn was a moody person. It didn’t take him a moment to question even his strongest allies. He is influenced by the footage he is shown and almost decides to fire Pacino. He needed The Godfather to appeal to mass sensibilities and was convinced that Pacino lacked that stereotypical menacing look he felt was necessary to elevate the character of a mafia leader. Charlie, along with Barry, expected The Godfather to be an action thriller, but Coppola treated it as a family drama instead. Charlie came onto the set, but he didn’t realize that Ruddy was a step ahead and had planned the shooting schedule accordingly. Charlie Bluhdorn is blown away when he sees Pacino take the stage and exact a vengeance that would make a dead man shiver in his grave. He was convinced that Pacino was the best man to play the character.
Evans and Ruddy showed Charlie the edited footage of the scene he had interviewed earlier. It ended all questions raised regarding the credibility of Francis Coppola and Al Ruddy. Ruddy and Joe Colombo had developed a strong admiration for each other over time. Ruddy knew the film wouldn’t have been made without the Mafia. While he appreciates his ties to Colombo, he recognizes the dangers of dealing with the Mafia. With the unwavering support of Charlie Bluhdorn, Evans and Ruddy waste no time firing Jack Ballard and Aram Avakian, and Coppola takes command of the ship and moves closer to creating a cinematic marvel.