Offers You Can’t Refuse

He told his father he preferred to make art pictures, not lousy anti-Italian mobster stuff. But Dad said, take the money and then do your own things. The money turned out to be $125,000 against 6 percent of the rentals.

There’s an excerpt of film critic David Thomson’s new book about “the story of movies” in Narrative Magazine (login required) that looks at the early film work of iconic moviemakers. The top of the excerpt tells the story of a few novelists like Aldous Huxley and William Faulkner, who both turned to writing scripts for movies because they needed money. “You are at their mercy. What a disgust and humiliation!” Huxley wrote to a friend in 1929. He then became complacent with film work after he began earning $1,500 a week—an extraordinary amount of money at the time.

The above quote is from Francis Ford Coppola, who was asked to direct a “hunk of trash” called The Godfather (Puzo’s novel was considered “a piece of trash” by critics everywhere, but sold very well among readers. I’m not saying that Fifty Shades of Grey is the next Godfather, but, hey!). Coppola’s father, Carmine, gave his son the advice that I would have probably given him—take the money, and then do your own things. I am doing my own thing at this very moment, but I also put together an awful lot of dumb slideshows back in day to pay the bills. When the rent is due, you take some offers you can’t refuse.

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