Back in 1968, Puzo was in the hole for $10,000 to his bookie, and he hoped to pay it off by selling the rights to his unfinished novel -- of which he had about 60 pages -- to a Paramount executive he met through a friend. The man bought the option "more out of pity than excitement," and immediately forgot about it ... until Puzo finished The Godfather and it became a best-seller. After that, Paramount was suddenly excited about the novel and eager to shoot a film adaptation of it, a feeling that nobody else shared.
Except marionette salesmen.
For starters, no director wanted to touch it, especially Coppola, who hated The Godfather book because of its graphic sex scenes. He only took the job because his own studio was in massive debt (seeing a pattern here?). Bankruptcy started to sound kind of appealing after Coppola started work, only to find he was constantly disrespected by his own film crew, and he even had to fake a heart attack to convince the studio to let him cast Marlon Brando in the title role. At the same time, the actual mafia was trying to convince Paramount to shut down production of the movie by shooting out a producer's car windows. Come on, they couldn't have the movie tarnish their stellar reputation by painting them as a bunch of violent thugs.