Is The Offer a good show? Sure, it’s fun and entertaining to watch, but for movie lovers and historians, it’s an offer they simply can’t refuse.
Adam Arkin, Dexter Fletcher and Colin Bucksey share directing duties of the 10-episode limited series, which dramatizes the turbulent journey it took to get The Godfather made. While watching The Offer, through today’s lens, it’s interesting to see how many people fought Francis Ford Coppola‘s seminal piece of filmmaking and tried to derail its chances of anyone ever stepping foot on a set for the movie. Thankfully, the movie (and its subsequent sequels – yes, even Part III) was made because, as you may have heard, it turned out just fine.
Miles Teller stars as Albert S. Ruddy, who convinced studio head Robert Evans (Matthew Goode) to let him produce an adaptation of Mario Puzzo’s new novel about a crime family. There was no reason to put any faith in Ruddy, who was known at the time for creating the TV Show Hogan’s Heroes and had no motion picture experience to his name. Ruddy fought for the rights to make the film and proved to be way over his head most of the time.
As if making a movie isn’t challenging enough, Ruddy had to keep several key figures outside of the film happy. Frank Sinatra (played in the series by Frank John Hughes) tried to get the movie shut down due to the Johnny Fontaine character and his suspicions he was the inspiration for the characer. Mob boss Joe Colombo (Giovanni Ribisi) put a great deal of pressure on Ruddy to ensure there were no negative depictions of Italians in the movie and made Ruddy promise the word ‘mafia’ would not be spoken in the film.
All of these hurdles had to be cleared while trying to cast the film and find the right director to bring Puzzo’s book to life on the screen. Coppola (Dan Fogler) was initially hesitant to take the movie on, but Ruddy was able to convince him to work with Puzzo (Patrick Gallo) on the screenplay adaptation.
The initial episodes of The Offer work best as Ruddy runs all over Hollywood and travels from New York to Los Angeles to try and secure everything in place to start the movie. The back half of the series, as the film is being made, doesn’t feel as urgent or propulsive, which makes the series a bit uneven, but watching a fictionalized creation of an all-time masterpiece is never not entertaining.
Teller, who replaced Armie Hammer amidst his personal and public woes, is a strong fit for Ruddy, once he settles into trying to create Ruddy’s deep voice. Teller has always brought a confidence and swagger to his performances, which suits him well here as he tries to appear confident to everyone, even when he isn’t sure he is still the right person for the job. His rapport with his assistant Bettye McCart (a series standout Juno Temple) is one of the highlights of The Offer.
The Offer is a lavishly produced series that enjoys bringing a bygone era of Hollywood back to life, as much as it enjoys reflecting upon it.