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Gabriel Phillips
Gabriel Phillips

The Godfather Part 111

Don Altobello, a New York Mafia boss and Connie's godfather, tells Michael that his partners on The Commission want in on the Immobiliare deal. Michael pays them from the sale of his Las Vegas holdings. Zasa receives nothing and, declaring Michael his enemy, storms out. Don Altobello, assuring Michael that he can diplomatically resolve the matter, leaves to speak to Zasa. Moments later, a helicopter hovers outside the conference room and opens fire. Most of the bosses are killed, but Michael, Vincent, and Michael's bodyguard, Al Neri, escape. Michael realizes that Altobello is the traitor, and suffers a diabetic stroke. As Michael recuperates, Vincent and Mary begin a romance, while Neri and Connie give Vincent permission to retaliate against Zasa. During a street festival, Vincent kills Zasa. Michael berates Vincent for his actions and insists that Vincent end his relationship with Mary because they are first cousins and because Vincent is in organized crime.

The Godfather Part 111


Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, and Talia Shire reprised their roles from the first two films. According to Coppola's audio commentary on the film in The Godfather DVD Collection, Robert Duvall refused to take part unless he was paid a salary comparable to Pacino's. In 2004, on the CBS program 60 Minutes, Duvall said, "if they paid Pacino twice what they paid me, that's fine, but not three or four times, which is what they did."[7] When Duvall dropped out, Coppola rewrote the screenplay to portray Tom Hagen as having died before the story begins and created the character B. J. Harrison, played by George Hamilton, to replace the Hagen character in the story. Coppola stated that, to him, the movie feels incomplete "without [Robert] Duvall's participation". According to Coppola, had Duvall agreed to take part in the film, the Hagen character would have been heavily involved in running the Corleone charities. Duvall confirmed in a 2010 interview that he never regretted the decision of turning down his role.[8]

Julia Roberts was originally cast as Mary but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.[11] Madonna wanted to play the role, but Coppola felt she was too old for the part.[12] Rebecca Schaeffer was set to audition, but was murdered by an obsessed fan.[13][14] Winona Ryder dropped out of the film at the last minute due to nervous exhaustion.[11] Ultimately, Sofia Coppola, the director's daughter, was given the role of Michael Corleone's daughter. Her much-criticized performance resulted in her father being accused of nepotism, a charge Coppola denies in the commentary track, asserting that, in his opinion, critics, "beginning with an article in Vanity Fair," were "using [my] daughter to attack me," something he finds ironic in light of the film's denouement when Mary pays the ultimate price for her father's sins.

For the film's 1991 home video release, Coppola re-edited it, adding 9 minutes of deleted footage, for a running time of 170 minutes. This cut was initially released on VHS & Laserdisc and was advertised as the "Final Director's Cut". It was the only version of the film available on home video until 2020. The original theatrical cut was released on home video in 2022, exclusively as a part of The Godfather Trilogy 4K Boxset.

Ebert's colleague, Gene Siskel, also gave the film high praise and placed it tenth in his list of the ten best films of 1990. Siskel admitted that the ending was the film's weakest part, citing Al Pacino's makeup as very poor. He also said, "[Another] problem is the casting of Sofia Coppola, who is out of her acting league here. She's supposed to be Andy Garcia's love interest but no sparks fly. He's more like her babysitter." In response to Ebert's defense of Coppola, Siskel said: "I know what you're saying about her being sort of natural and not the polished bombshell, and that would've been wrong. There is one, a photographer in the picture, who takes care of that role, but at the same time, I don't think it's explained why [Vincent] really comes onto her, unless this guy is the most venal, craven guy, but look who he's playing around with. He's playing around with the Godfather's daughter."

Writing for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw gave the film three out of five stars and stated, "I'm not sure how much, if anything, Coppola's re-edit does for the film, but it's worth a watch."[18] Owen Gleiberman of Variety stated, "Here's the news and the ever-so-slight scandal: It's the same damn movie. I'm not exaggerating; it really is. The one impactful change is the new opening scene."[37] Writing for IndieWire, David Ehrlich said, "But when it was announced that [Coppola] had inevitably assembled a new cut of his most famous cause célèbre and re-christened it with the title he'd always wanted for the film... he wasn't trying to make it 'better' so much as he was trying to shift its place in history and reframe the picture as less the third part of a flawed trilogy than the postscript of a legendary dyad."[38]

Puzo's portion of the potential sequel, dealing with the Corleone family in the early 1930s, was eventually expanded into a novel by Edward Falco and published in 2012 as The Family Corleone.[49][50] Paramount sued the Puzo estate to prevent publication of the novel, prompting a counter-suit on the part of the estate, claiming breach of contract. The studio and the estate subsequently settled the suits, allowing publication of the book, but with the studio retaining rights to possible future films.[51]

But 30 years after its release, it is time to rescue Godfather III from its terrible reputation. Pacino's eloquent, fiery, knowing central performance is supported by several bravura set pieces that are mini-masterpieces in themselves. With deliberate echoes of the earlier Godfather films, there is singing and dancing at a family party, a bold murder during the San Gennaro street festival, a tragedy on the steps of an opera house in Sicily.

Twelve minutes shorter, it rearranges some key episodes, eliminates a few minor scenes and trims a line here or there. But until its altered ending, it is fundamentally the same film, better in parts than as a whole. It is too flawed to come close to the accomplishments of The Godfather (1972) or its sequel, both among the most towering and influential films of the 20th Century. They have penetrated the culture, from their language ("I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse") to their quintessentially American story of immigration and upward mobility. But the new version clarifies Coppola's epic vision, revealing how much the Corleone story was always Michael's, a deeply moral saga of guilt and redemption. He just happened to be a mob boss.

The film still has problems that no amount of editing can change. In a needlessly confusing main plot, Michael tries to take over a European conglomerate called International Immobiliare. By buying the Vatican's shares, he'll be bailing out the corrupt Vatican bank. The family part of the story revolves around Michael's nephew, Vincent Mancini, the illegitimate son of his brother Sonny. Andy Garcia is as good a Vincent as you could hope for, handsome, swaggering, rough around the edges, dynamic on screen. But his character never makes much sense. Vincent has his father's explosive temper and appetite for violence, but somehow goes from a not-so-bright thug to a shrewd, controlled crime strategist in a matter of months. His change is far from the engrossing, methodical character trajectory that takes the young Michael from idealist to murderer in the first Godfather.

And the film's most severely criticised element is no better than anyone remembers. Winona Ryder, who had been set to play Michael's daughter, Mary, dropped out weeks before filming started and was replaced with unabashed nepotism by Coppola's teenaged daughter, Sofia. Today, we know Sofia Coppola as a brilliant director, but it's easy to see why her amateurish performance made her another target of Godfather III jokes, particularly for the unintentionally awkward and passionless romance between Mary and her cousin Vincent. Coppola actually snipped a couple of Sofia's lines in the new version.

But the film soon picks up with its true, exhilarating beginning. Several generations of Corleones, along with friends and business associates, gather at a party celebrating Michael. His sister, Connie, sings an Italian song, while shady-looking visitors pay homage to Michael in his office. He now has bristly grey hair and a lined face, and controls his family and business with authoritarian power. The extravagant 30-minute sequence echoes Connie's wedding at the start of The Godfather, and the First Communion party in Lake Tahoe that began Godfather II. Michael's office even has the same light slanting through the blinds that we saw in his father's office in the first Godfather, when Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone received visitors. Throughout, these call backs to the previous films add resonance while trenchantly revealing how things have changed. Michael is burdened by conscience in a way Vito never was. "I don't apologise," Vito tells Michael near the end of The Godfather, justifying his brutality because he was trying to save his family. Godfather III is all about Michael's need to atone.

The party scene flows easily as it brings every character up to date. Diane Keaton is as deft as ever as Michael's ex-wife Kay, who pleads with him to allow their son, Tony, to pursue a career as an opera singer. Kay can be chilling. "Tony knows that you killed Fredo," she warns Michael. Yet she has never got over him, as we see in a later scene when they have a tearful tête-à-tête in Sicily, a scene Pacino and Keaton make painfully real.

That revenge plays out in the elaborate, gripping final sequence at the opera, a counterpart to one of the most famous episodes from The Godfather, when a baptism is intercut with a series of murders. That first sequence was about Michael's rise to power; now he suffers the consequences. While the family watches Tony on stage, Coppola weaves in scenes of Vincent's crew settling scores. One shoots an enemy who plummets off a beautiful spiral staircase. Another murders a rival by stabbing the man's own eyeglasses into his neck. At the opera, hitmen are after Michael, which leads to the shooting on the steps, and a bullet meant for him that kills Mary. For him there is no coming back from that, no possible way to forgive himself. 041b061a72


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