“The Godfather, Part III” (1990)
There’s no reason to pen an article about either of the first two films in “The Godfather” saga. Those two cinematic endeavors are as close to flawless as you’re going to get. But, as with most sequels, everything unravels in part three.
Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, and Talia Shire were the only principle actors to return from the previous films. Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton, Bridget Fonda, and Sofia Coppolla portrayed new characters with varying degrees of success. Director Francis Ford Coppolla has freely admitted that this film only exists because he was in a financial pinch. He also chose to cast his daughter in a major role, despite her inexperience as an actor, after Winona Ryder dropped out.
You cannot discuss this film without acknowledging that Mary Corleone is the Jar Jar Binks of “The Godfather” franchise. I’m not picking on Sofia Coppolla. I don’t blame her. She was put in an impossible situation and did her best. Diane Keaton had to speak some of the most unintentionally humorous lines of dialogue, “I dread you,” and “You became my horror.” Robert Duvall opted to not reprise his role as Tom Hagen because of a pay dispute. He was sorely missed. George Hamilton basically took his place as the Corleone Family lawyer.
Joe Mantegna was good in his supporting role as gangster with panache, a precursor to Fat Tony on “The Simpsons.” Despite of all the negativity surrounding this film, Andy Garcia gave a very strong performance. Vincent Mancini, the illegitimate son of Sonny Corleone, was a worthy successor to Don Michael Corleone. It’s just that he was saddled with a convoluted plot and having to act opposite Sofia Coppolla.
I’ve seen this film many times and only recently began to comprehend what was going on in the story. Michael bailed out the Vatican Bank, so that they would vote him control of Immobiliare, an international real estate company. I wish someone had explained that to me years ago because I never had any idea what the heck they were talking about. The most celebrated scene is the helicopter attack in Atlantic City. Too bad it was followed by cringe inducing scenes like when Eli Wallach hires the Sicilian assassin and he asks his nephew to do an impression of a donkey. I hate that scene.
All the subtlety from the previous films was replaced by melodrama. The final sequence in the opera house dragged on for half an hour whereas the christening in the original film was around five minutes in length. “The Godfather, Part III” was beautifully shot and the score was wonderful, but the script needed more polishing.
1990 must have been a disappointing year for Talia Shire between this and “Rocky V.” There are many similarities between this film and the “Star Wars” prequels. Convoluted stories coupled with blatant attempts to echo the past films, relying solely on nostalgia while inventing nothing new to inspire audiences.
Marlon Brando had satirized his portrayal of Don Vito Corleone that same year in “The Freshman.” Other than his infamous weight gain, he still looked the part. I wonder if Francis Ford Coppolla contemplated shooting a flashback sequence with the renowned actor. I always thought it would have been great if Francis Ford Coppolla had created a part for his nephew, Nicholas Cage. That would have made this film amazing by default. The plot doesn’t have to make sense when Nicholas Cage is involved.