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Nino Rota and the Oscars

Nino Rota (1911-1979) composed the scores of dozens of films, and he will always be remembered for the music he wrote for The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974). However, Rota stole some of the music he used in The Godfather -- but he stole it from himself! There is music heard in The Godfather that is basically the same as some music he had used 15 years earlier in a 1957 Italian film titled Fortunella. Yet, there are such differences in tempo, orchestration, and style between the music in the two films that the similarities between their scores may not be immediately apparent to many listeners.

For his work on The Godfather, Rota was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Music, Original Dramatic Score. But when the Academy realized that some of the music for that film was recycled from an earlier movie he had scored, they declared it ineligible in its category and withdrew the nomination. However, two years later, Rota was nominated in the same category for his work on The Godfather: Part II, and this time he won the Oscar.

Actually, Rota didn't write all the music for The Godfather: Part II, so he had to share his Academy Award with the composer of the rest of that film's music, Carmine Coppola. By the way, in case you're wondering if the man Rota shared the Oscar with was related to anyone else in the movie business, the answer is yes. Carmine Coppola was the father of director Francis Ford Coppola and actress Talia Shire and the grandfather of actor Nicolas Cage.

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