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Why was Nino Rota’s score for ‘The Godfather’ disqualified from the 1972 Oscars?

Despite being initially nominated, Nino Rota's score for 'The Godfather' was replaced by John Addison's soundtrack for 'Sleuth'

Why was Nino Rota’s score for ‘The Godfather’ disqualified from the 1972 Oscars?

In 1972, composer Nino Rota received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score for his work on The Godfather, but it was subsequently revoked after it was revealed that part of the love theme had already been used in Rota’s score for the 1958 Italian comedy film, Fortunatella. 

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The nomination was then passed to a new nominee: John Addison’s score for Sleuth, which didn’t end up winning the Oscar. The winner was Charlie Chaplin’s score for the 1952 film Limelight, which received a delayed release in Los Angeles in 1972.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the end for Nino Rota, who went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Score two years later for his work on the film’s sequel: The Godfather Part II. 

You can buy Nino Rota’s soundtrack to The Godfather from Amazon.

What are the restrictions and eligibility criteria for the Academy Award for Best Original Score?

The rules were changed in 2020 to allow film scores that included a minimum of 60% original material to be nominated for an Oscar. Sequels and franchise films have to include a minimum of 80% new material. Films can appeal to the Academy Awards if they do not meet the exact percentage criteria. The committee will then make a decision on whether the film is eligible based on its arguments.

The Academy Awards have listed the following criteria for film scores to be considered:

  • The score must not be diluted with the use of pre-existing music
  • The score cannot be diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs/music not originally composed for the film
  • The score must not be assembled from the music of more than one composer

Image credit: Getty Images

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