The Godfather, the Academy Award winning tryptic masterpiece directed by Francis Ford Coppola and photographed by Gordon Willis, ASC celebrated its 40th anniversary on March 23, 2011.  The project was originally approved by Robert Evans at Paramount Pictures as a low budget  production to be shot at the studio  back-lot in Hollywood with a just a 1 million dollars budget but it later rose to the status of an "A" production with a much larger budget of 6.5 million that included  remote locations in New York City and Sicily, all these thanks to the convincing insistence of Francis Ford Coppola pushing the use of real shooting locations, the insistence into casting  the temperamental Marlon Brando as Don Corleone and the sudden success of  Mario Puzo's novella as a best seller book. 

 Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando, 
Gordon Willis ASC and Tibor Sands

 Location No.2 on the first day of shooting,
Fifth Ave., in front of collector's model trains Polk's Hobbies
Tibor is hiding behind the box in the center of the image.

On March 22nd 1971, Hardwick Johnson, George Harris, and the staff at Camera Service Center loaded a CineMobile location truck waiting on W54th Street in Manhattan for a film they would never forget. The First Assistant Camera Tibor Sands had tested the equipment and helped load the camera package that included a BNC blimp and a full set of Super Baltar Prime Lenses.

Meeting with the Dons. Tibor is behind Coppola instructing Brando
The Five Families. Coppola decided to take out all references 
about "the Maffia" after a cry of outrage by the
Italian-American Rights Civil League in New York City.

Coppola lines a shot for Michael Chapman, the camera operator
while Tibor pulls focus for the grisly decapitated horse head scene.

It was now headed to the first location on Fifth Avenue for Director of Photography Gordon Willis ASC and Camera Operator Michael Chapman ASC. Over the next few months of principal photography , "The Godfather" was to make cinematography history.

Here are some of the famous lines delivered by Don Corleone (Brando) to his protegee Irish son (Duvall).
 Don Corleone: Give me a drop.
[Hagen hands the Don his glass of anisette]
Don Corleone: My wife is crying upstairs. I hear cars coming to the house.Consigliore of mine, I think it's time you told your Don what everyone seems to know..
Tom Hagen: I didn't tell Mama anything. I was just about to come up and wake you so that I could tell you.
Don Corleone: But you needed a drink first.
[Hagen nods]
Don Corleone: And now you've had your drink.
Tom Hagen: They shot Sonny on the causeway. He's dead.
[the Don accepts this news without any sign of emotion, 
except to close his eyes and remain silent for a few minutes]
Don Corleone: [speaking at last] I want no inquiries made.
I want no acts of vengeance.I want you to arrange a meeting
with the heads of the Five Families. This war stops now.

 Two years later history was repeated when a similar camera package with an additional set of Kowa Prime Lenses left CSC for the film's sequel, The Godfather Part II. This time the Main Unit included Camera Operator Ralph Gerling and First Assistant Camera William Gereghty, with Tibor Sands handling the famous Cuban revolution sequence.

Hardwick Johnson, George Harris and Tibor Sands reunite to 
sign the Godfather posters at ARRI CSC.

Almost forty years after that first check out Hardwrick Johnson and George Harris - both of whom still work at ARRI CSC - were reunited with Tibor Sands to sign original posters for both films, now proudly on display at ARRI CSC's camera rental facility in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Past Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award recipient George Lucas 
presents the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to recipient 
Francis Ford Coppola during the 2010 Governors Awards i
n the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center in 
Hollywood, CA, Saturday, November 13, 2011

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Godfather: The intimate Francis Ford Coppola By Gene D. Phillips