Review by Dan Skip Allen
The Godfather is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time by critics and fans alike. It brought people into a world of crime and Italian society never before seen on the big screen. However, the film based on Mario Puzo's novel almost never happened. The Offer is the show by Paramount+ about how this masterpiece of cinema came to be, and it's quite a sordid tale.
The show focuses on a handful of main characters and some other supporting characters. Albert S. Ruddy (Miles Teller) is working at the Rand Corporation, a government-subsidized think tank, when he decides to get into television and later the film industry. He hooks his wagon to Paramount studio head at the time, Robert Evans (Matthew Goode). Evans is the producer of the big hit Love Story based on a worldwide best-seller. Paramount wants to repeat this success, so they option the next big hit best-seller, The Godfather by Mario Puzo (Patrick Gallo). Evans puts Ruddy in charge of this project. It's his first film project — fraught with turmoil from the beginning. From budget concerns to casting issues, this film was doomed from the start. But these men and women wouldn't let that happen.
Dexter Fletcher is a well-known director of Rocketman, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Eddie the Eagle. He had quite the undertaking trying to adapt Ruddy's book. This story is too good to be true sometimes. Just when you thought nothing else could go wrong with this production, something does. Anything and everything was thrown in his way while trying to make this film. It's a miracle that the film turned out as great as it did, considering everything that happened behind the scenes. The show delves into all the various people besides Ruddy and Evans that played a part in this film. Like any film production, the people involved are numerous, from company executives to an ex-boyfriend of Ruddy's secretary who played Carlo in the film. The cast is pretty extensive.
Director Francis Ford Coppola is played by Dan Fogler (Fantastic Beasts), who is the spitting image of Coppola. He gets his facial tics and hand gestures down to a tee. Burn Gorman plays Charles Bluhdorn, the owner and CEO of Gulf-Western. He had a love-hate relationship with Ruddy and Evans, and despite his better judgment, he kept supporting these two men and their film. Colin Hanks is Barry Lapidus, who is different from the CEO. He held a tight leash on the men involved in the production and a tight purse. He was not a fan of the film or the men involved in making it. Juno Temple plays Bettye McCartt, who wasn't just a secretary, but a do-it-all woman and a savior to Ruddy and Bluhdorn at various times in the lead-up and production of The Godfather. These actors were all fantastic in their various roles in the show. They are just the tip of the iceberg, though
The heart and soul of this series are Teller as Ruddy and Goode as Evans. These two single-handedly drove every episode and this entire story forward. They were the reason to watch this show. From their personal lives outside of the filmmaking production to various things that they had to do to keep this train on the tracks, these two actors were terrific. They both had their ups and downs as the characters, but they never let me down as a viewer watching them. They both should be up for Emmys playing these two men going through hell and back on this film and in general. They had to sell their souls to get this film made, and it was all in vivid color for us to watch. These might be the best performances of their careers.
When you're making a show about a specific period, such as the early '70s, you need to make things look realistic to that time and place in history. Fletcher, Nikki Toscano, and many others made me feel like I went back to this period in history. Hollywood was in a rough patch in the '70s, but films like The Godfather helped bring it out of those hard times. The clothes, the hairstyles, the cars, the set direction, and the production value were all spot on. These people made this show look as authentic as possible, even as far as remaking and reimagining scenes from the film. Various scenes of Good on Willis and Coppola arguing about lighting were priceless for me while watching the show. Even getting the actors to sound like their counterparts were pretty amazing. The kid who played Al Pacino was uncanny.
The story is based on Ruddy"s experiences, so no one except those involved knew what really happened in some of those rooms. In some cases, dark dungeons where men were threatened because they didn't go along with the film production. That's where Joe Columbo, a real-life New York gangster (Giovanni Ribisi), comes into the picture. This show depicts the relationship between Ruddy, Columbo, New York Senators, and the Italian mob. These were real as far as Ruddy's recollections are concerned. Even Frank Sinatra played a part in this story, and not a good part. This show has it all, and it's stranger than fiction because it's authentic to what Ruddy had to say. After watching the show, who am I to disagree with him? However, Peter Bart (Josh Zuckerman) might have other things to say about it.
The Offer is the (mostly) real depiction of how one of the greatest films of all time got made. It has so many outstanding performances from Teller, Goode, Fogler, Temple, Ribisi, and many others. The craft departments such as hair and makeup, costumes, set decoration, production value, and overall camera work made this time come to life once again. Dexter Fletcher, Nikki Toscano, and the writers brought Ruddy's story, real or fake, to life. As a huge fan of The Godfather, it was a pleasure to see this story come to life. No movie ever had an easy road getting made. This is just one man's story among many involved but is a fantastic story of pain, loyalty, death, loving, satisfaction, and success. I loved every last minute of it.
The Offer debuts on Paramount+ on April 28, with new episodes streaming subsequent Thursdays. All ten episodes reviewed.