The Godfather Part III

The Godfather Part III

Theatrical poster
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Produced by Francis Ford Coppola
Fred Fuchs
Written by Mario Puzo
Francis Ford Coppola
Starring Al Pacino
Andy García
Diane Keaton
Talia Shire
Sofia Coppola
Eli Wallach
George Hamilton
Joe Mantegna
Music by Carmine Coppola
Theme:
Nino Rota
Cinematography Gordon Willis
Editing by Barry Malkin
Lisa Fruchtman
Walter Murch
Studio American Zoetrope
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) December 25, 1990 (1990-12-25)
Running time 170 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$54 million
Box office $136,766,062[1]

The Godfather Part III is a 1990 American gangster film written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, and directed by Coppola. It completes the story of Michael Corleone, a Mafia kingpin who tries to legitimize his criminal empire. The movie also weaves into its plot a fictionalized account of real-life events—the 1978 death of Pope John Paul I and the Papal banking scandal of 1981–1982—and links them with each other and with the affairs of Michael Corleone. The film stars Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, and Andy García, and features Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton, Bridget Fonda, and Sofia Coppola.

Coppola and Puzo originally wanted the title to be The Death of Michael Corleone. However, Paramount Pictures would not accept that title. Coppola states that The Godfather series is in fact two films, and Part III is the epilogue. Part III received mixed to positive reviews, grossed $136,766,062 and was nominated for seven Academy Awards.

Contents

Plot

In 1979,[2][3] Michael Corleone is nearing 60 and wracked with guilt for his ruthless rise to power, including ordering the murder of his brother Fredo. By now, he has mostly retired from the Mafia, leaving the Corleone family's criminal interests in the hands of enforcer Joey Zasa, and is using his tremendous wealth and power to restore his reputation via numerous acts of charity. Michael and Kay have been divorced since 1959, and Michael gave her custody of their children, Anthony and Mary.

At a ceremony in St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, Michael is named a Commander of the Order of St. Sebastian. At a party following the ceremony, Anthony tells his father that he is going to drop out of law school to pursue a career as an opera singer. Kay supports his choice, but Michael disagrees, wishing that his son would either finish law school or join the family business, but Anthony refuses to have anything to do with his father's "legacy." Michael and Kay have an uneasy reunion, in which Kay tells him that Anthony knows the truth about Fredo's death.

Meanwhile, Vincent Mancini, the illegitimate son of Michael's late brother Sonny, shows up at the party. He is embroiled in a feud with Zasa, who has involved the Corleone family in major drug trafficking and turned Little Italy into a slum. Michael's sister Connie arranges a "sit-down" between Vincent and Zasa in Michael's study. The discussion erupts into a fight, in which Vincent bites Zasa in the ear. That night Vincent has a one-night stand with a journalist named Grace Hamilton. Two men armed with knives and a gun break in and try to kill him. Vincent kills them both, but not before learning that Zasa sent them. Michael is troubled by Vincent's fiery temper, but is nonetheless impressed by his loyalty, and agrees to take his nephew under his wing.

Meanwhile, Michael busies himself with the biggest deal of his career: He has recently bought up enough stock in International Immobiliare, an international real estate holding company known as "the world's biggest landlord", to become its largest single shareholder, with six seats on the company's 13-member board of directors. He now makes a tender offer to buy the Vatican's 25% interest in the company, which will give him controlling interest. Knowing that Archbishop Gilday, who serves as head of the Vatican Bank, has run up a massive deficit, he negotiates a deal to pay $600 million to the Bank in exchange for the shares. The deal is quickly approved by Immobiliare's board. However, per the Lateran Treaty, it must be ratified in Rome by Pope Paul VI himself, and His Holiness is gravely ill. Without his word, the deal is in limbo.

Don Altobello, an elderly New York Mafia boss and old friend of the Corleones (as well as Connie's godfather), soon visits Michael, telling him that his old partners on the Commission want in on the Immobiliare deal. Michael, however, is adamant that the Immobiliare deal be untainted by Mafia involvement. A meeting is arranged, and Michael appeases most of the Mafia bosses with payoffs from the sale of his Las Vegas holdings. Zasa, however, gets nothing, and declares that Michael is his enemy and storms out. Altobello follows close behind. Minutes later, a helicopter hovers outside the conference room and sprays it with submachine gun fire. Most of the other mob bosses are killed, but Michael, Vincent, and Michael's bodyguard, Al Neri, escape. Back at his penthouse in New York, Michael is told that those mob bosses who escaped the massacre quickly made deals with Zasa, and realizes that Altobello supported Zasa in carrying out the hit. Vincent wants to kill Zasa, but Michael refuses. As he considers how to respond to the situation, he suffers a diabetic stroke and is hospitalized.

As Michael recuperates, Vincent begins a romantic relationship with Mary, and also plots revenge against Zasa. Neri and Connie give Vincent permission to act. During a street festival hosted by Zasa's Italian American civil rights group, Vincent's men gun down Zasa's bodyguards. Vincent, disguised as a policeman on horseback, shoots Zasa dead. When Michael discovers this, he berates Vincent for his rashness. Michael also insists that Vincent end his relationship with Mary, because Vincent's involvement in the family's criminal enterprises puts her life in jeopardy.

The family takes a vacation to Sicily in preparation for Anthony's operatic debut in Palermo. They stay at the villa of Corleone family friend Don Tommasino. Michael tells Vincent to speak with Altobello and tell him that he is planning to leave the Corleone family. Altobello supports the idea of Vincent switching his allegiance, and introduces him to Don Licio Lucchesi, a powerful Italian political figure and Immobiliare's chairman. Michael realizes that the Immobiliare deal is an elaborate conspiracy between Lucchesi, Archbishop Gilday, and Vatican accountant Frederick Keinszig to swindle him out of his money, and visits Cardinal Lamberto, the man favored to become the next Pope, to speak about the deal. Lamberto convinces Michael to make his first confession in 30 years, in which he tearfully admits to ordering Fredo's murder. Lamberto tells Michael that he deserves to suffer for his sins, but that his life could still be redeemed.

Shortly after the meeting between Vincent and Lucchesi, Altobello travels to the small village of Montelepre, where he hires Mosca, a veteran hitman, to assassinate Michael. A few days later, Mosca and his son Lupe, disguised as priests, attempt to kidnap Don Tommasino and force him to allow them entry to his villa. Tommasino refuses, and Mosca kills him. While touring Sicily with Kay, who has arrived for Anthony’s operatic debut, Michael asks for her forgiveness. As they both admit that they still love each other, Michael receives word that Tommasino is dead. At Tommassino's funeral, Michael swears over his old friend's coffin to sin no more.

After the death of Pope Paul VI, Cardinal Lamberto is elected Pope John Paul I, which means that the Immobiliare deal will likely be ratified. The new Pope's intentions come as a death knell to the plot against the ratification of the Immobiliare deal, prompting frantic attempts by the plotters to cover their own tracks. Vincent tells Michael that he has learned from Altobello of Mosca's plot on his life. Michael sees that his nephew is a changed man, and makes him the new Don of the Corleone family. In exchange, Vincent agrees to put an end to his relationship with Mary.

The family travels to Palermo to see Anthony perform the lead in Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana. Meanwhile, Vincent exacts his revenge:

  • Keinszig is abducted by Vincent's men, who smother him with a pillow and hang him from a bridge to make his death look like a suicide.
  • Don Altobello, also attending the opera, eats poisoned cannoli that his goddaughter Connie gives him. He dies as Connie watches sadly from her box.
  • Al Neri travels to the Vatican, where he shoots Archbishop Gilday.
  • Finally, Calò (Tommasino's former bodyguard) meets with Don Lucchesi at his office, claiming to bear a message from Michael. As he pretends to whisper the message to Lucchesi, Calò stabs him in the throat with his own glasses.

The killings are too late to save the Pope, however. Just hours after he approves the Immobiliare deal, the Pope drinks poisoned tea provided to him by Archbishop Gilday and soon dies in his bed.

Mosca, still disguised as a priest and armed with a sniper rifle, descends upon the opera house during Anthony's performance, killing three of Vincent's men and preparing to shoot his target from a box, but the opera ends before he has the chance to pull the trigger. The assassin retreats to the opera house façade's staircase and tries to shoot Michael there. At the same moment, Mary confronts her father about the forced break-up with Vincent. Mosca fires twice, wounding Michael and accidentally killing Mary. Vincent then shoots him dead. As Kay and Connie weep, Michael cradles Mary's body in his arms and screams in agony.

The scene dissolves to a short montage of Michael's memories of all the women he has lost, composed of scenes with Mary, Kay, and his first wife, Apollonia.

The film ends with Michael as an old man, seated alone in the front yard of his Sicilian villa. He slumps over in his chair, collapses to the ground, and dies.

Cast

Character Actor
Michael Corleone Al Pacino
Vincent Mancini Andy García
Kay Adams-Corleone Diane Keaton
Connie Corleone Talia Shire
Mary Corleone Sofia Coppola
Don Altobello Eli Wallach
B. J. Harrison George Hamilton
Joey Zasa Joe Mantegna
Al Neri Richard Bright
Grace Hamilton Bridget Fonda
Cardinal Lamberto Raf Vallone
Anthony Corleone Franc D'Ambrosio
Archbishop Gilday Donal Donnelly
Frederick Keinszig Helmut Berger
Dominic Abbandando Don Novello
Father Andrew Hagen John Savage
Mosca Mario Donatone
Don Tommasino Vittorio Duse
Don Licio Lucchesi Enzo Robutti
Johnny Fontane Al Martino

Script and casting

Coppola felt that the first two films had told the complete Corleone saga. In his audio commentary for Part II, he stated that only a dire financial situation caused by the failure of New York Stories compelled him to take up Paramount's long-standing offer to make a third installment.[4]

According to an article in Premiere, Coppola and Puzo requested six months to complete a first draft of the script with a release date of Easter 1991. Paramount agreed to give them six weeks for the script and, lacking a holiday movie, a release date of Christmas Day 1990.

Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, and Talia Shire reprise 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. On an episode of Inside the Actor's Studio, Duvall said he understood that Pacino was the star but felt insulted by the difference in their salaries, later saying "if they paid Pacino twice what they paid me, that's fine, but not three or four times, which is what they did."[5] When Duvall dropped out, Coppola rewrote the screenplay to portray Tom Hagen as having died before the story begins. Coppola created the character B. J. Harrison, played by George Hamilton, to replace the Hagen character in the story. The director further states 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.

The first draft of a script had been written by Dean Riesner in 1979, based on a story by Mario Puzo. This script centered around Michael Corleone's son, Anthony, a naval officer working for the CIA, and the Corleone family's involvement with a plot to assassinate a Central American dictator.[6] Almost none of the elements of this early script carried over to the final film, but one scene from the film — in which two men break into Vincent's house — exists in the Riesner draft and is nearly unchanged.[7]

Coppola says that he felt The Godfather saga was essentially Michael's story, one about how "a good man becomes evil," as the writer/director puts it on the same commentary track referenced above. Coppola says he felt that Michael had not really "paid for his sins" committed in the second film, and wanted this final chapter to demonstrate that. In keeping with this theme, Coppola completely re-wrote the script.

Julia Roberts was originally cast as Mary, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Madonna wanted to play the role, but Coppola felt she was too old for the part. Rebecca Schaeffer was set to audition, but she was murdered. Winona Ryder dropped out of the film at the last minute (supposedly due to illness, though other reports state that she was committed to Edward Scissorhands). 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 bitterly refutes in the commentary track, asserting, in his opinion, that 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 the Mary character pays the ultimate price for her father's sins.

As an infant, Sofia Coppola had played Michael Corleone's infant nephew in The Godfather, during the climactic baptism/murder montage at the end of that film. (Sofia Coppola also appeared in The Godfather Part II, as a small immigrant child in the scene where the nine-year-old Vito Corleone arrives by steamer at Ellis Island.) The character of Michael's sister Connie is played by Francis Ford Coppola's sister, Talia Shire (making her both Mary and Sofia's aunt). Other Coppola relatives with cameos in the film included his mother, father (who wrote and conducted much of the music in the film), uncle and granddaughter, Gia. Michele Russo, who plays the son of the assassin Mosca, is also a distant Coppola relative, from the same town as Francis Ford Coppola's great-grandmother. In addition, Coppola cast Catherine Scorsese, mother of Martin Scorsese, for a small part.

Reception

At Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a generally positive response with a 68% "fresh" rating.[8] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 60, based on 19 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average reviews".[9] The Godfather Part III is almost unanimously considered to be the weakest of the three Godfather films.[10][11] Common criticisms include Sofia Coppola's acting, the plot being too outlandish and convoluted, as well as the storyline being too based on continuity, rather than just a "stand alone" story. In his review, Roger Ebert stated that it is "not even possible to understand this film without knowing the first two." Ebert did, however, write a very enthusiastic review, awarding the film three-and-a-half stars, which is a higher rating than he gave The Godfather Part II (three-stars).[12] He also defended the casting of Sofia Coppola, who he felt wasn’t miscast, stating, “There is no way to predict what kind of performance Francis Ford Coppola might have obtained from Winona Ryder, the experienced and talented young actress, who was originally set to play this role. But I think Sofia Coppola brings a quality of her own to Mary Corleone. A certain up-front vulnerability and simplicity that I think are appropriate and right for the role.” Ebert's colleague, Gene Siskel, also highly praised the film and placed it on his list of the ten best films of 1990 (#10). Siskel did admit that the ending was the film's weakest part, citing Al Pacino's makeup as very poor. Leonard Maltin stated in his movie guide that the film is “masterfully told,” but the casting of Sofia Coppola was an “almost-fatal flaw.”

Awards

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Andy Garcia), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Dean Tavoularis, Gary Fettis), Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Song (for Carmine Coppola and John Bettis for "Promise Me You'll Remember") and Best Picture.[13][14] It is the only film in the series not to have Al Pacino nominated for Best Actor. It is the only film in the trilogy not to win the Academy Award for Best Picture or any other Academy Award for that matter, as well as the only film in the trilogy not selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.

The film was also nominated for seven Golden Globes, but did not win.[15] Sofia Coppola won two Golden Raspberry Awards for both Worst Supporting Actress and Worst New Star.

Historical background

Parts of the film are very loosely based on real historical events concerning the ending of the Papacy of Paul VI, and the very short Papacy of John Paul I in 1978, and the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano in 1982. Like the character Cardinal Lamberto, who becomes John Paul I, the historical John Paul I, Albino Luciani, reigned for only a very short time before being found dead in his bed.

Journalist David Yallop argues that Luciani was planning a reform of Vatican finances and that he died by poisoning; these claims are reflected in the film.[16] Yallop also names as a suspect Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, who was the head of the Vatican bank, like the character Archbishop Gilday in the film. However, while Marcinkus was noted for his muscular physique and Chicago origins, Gilday is a mild Irishman. The character has also drawn comparisons to Cardinal Giuseppe Caprio, as he was in charge of the Vatican finances during the approximate period of which the movie was based.[17]

The character of Frederick Keinszig, the Swiss banker who is murdered and left hanging under a bridge, mirrors the fate (and physical appearance) of Roberto Calvi, the Italian head of the Banco Ambrosiano who was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982 (it was unclear, although widely believed that manner of deaths included Masonic symbolism, whether it was a case of suicide or, as the Italian idiom has it, "being suicided." Courts in Italy have recently ruled the latter.)[18] The name "Keinszig" is taken from Manuela Kleinszig, the girl friend of Flavio Carbone who was indicted as one of Roberto Calvi's murderers in 2005.[19]

On the audio commentary of the DVD, Francis Ford Coppola states that the character of Don Licio Lucchesi would be very recognizable for Italian citizens. The thick-rimmed glasses, the official police bodyguard while Michael meets the Don in Sicily, and a single quote at the end of the movie are supposedly clues that Don Lucchesi is (at least partly) based on Giulio Andreotti.

Soundtrack

The film's soundtrack received a Golden Globe nomination for best score.[20] Also, the film's love theme, "Promise Me You'll Remember" sung by Harry Connick, Jr., received an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for Best Song.

References

  1. ^ "The Godfather Part III (1990)". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=godfather3.htm. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  2. ^ Cowie, Peter (1997). The Godfather Book. Faber and Faber. p. 154. ISBN 978-0571190119. 
  3. ^ Lebo, Harlan (2005). The Godfather Legacy. Fireside. p. 249. ISBN 978-0743287777. 
  4. ^ The Godfather Part II DVD commentary featuring Francis Ford Coppola, [2005]
  5. ^ http://www.cracked.com/article_19350_6-famously-terrible-movies-that-were-almost-awesome_p2.html#ixzz1VPwkOhgx
  6. ^ "The Godfather Part III (1979 script)" (PDF). http://www.awesomefilm.com/script/Godfather_PartIII(3-12-79).pdf. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  7. ^ "The Godfather Part III (1979 script), pp 53-57" (PDF). http://www.awesomefilm.com/script/Godfather_PartIII(3-12-79).pdf. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  8. ^ Rotten Tomatoes.
  9. ^ The Godfather: Part III Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  10. ^ New York Times Retrieved March 2009; The Godfather Part III (1990)
  11. ^ You Think You're Out, but They Try to Pull You Back In By Michiko Kakutani, Published: November 12, 2004
  12. ^ Ebert’s review.
  13. ^ "The 63rd Academy Awards (1991) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/legacy/ceremony/63rd-winners.html. Retrieved 2011-08-02. 
  14. ^ "Academy Awards, Retrieved March 2009". Search.oscars.org. http://search.oscars.org/search?q=Godfather+III&btnG=GO&site=Oscars_org&client=oscars_org&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=oscars_org. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  15. ^ The Godfather Part III, 7 Nomination(s) | 0 Win(s) | 1991. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  16. ^ The 80 greatest conspiracies of all time: history's biggest mysteries, coverups, and cabals, By Jonathan Vankin, John Whalen; Published by Citadel Press, 2004; ISBN 0806525312, 9780806525310 page 172-174
  17. ^ The 80 greatest conspiracies of all time: history's biggest mysteries, coverups, and cabals, By Jonathan Vankin, John Whalen; Published by Citadel Press, 2004; ISBN 0806525312, 9780806525310 page 178-179
  18. ^ The Economist, Published by The Economist Newspaper Ltd., 1843; Item notes: v. 286-289, Original from the University of California
  19. ^ Civil Liability for Pure Economic Loss: Proceedings of the Annual International Colloquium of the United Kingdom National, Committee of Comparative Law Held in Norwich, September, 1994, By Efstathios K. Banakas, United Kingdom National Committee of Comparative Law; Contributor Efstathios K. Banakas; Published by Kluwer Law International, 1996; ISBN 9041109080, 9789041109088
  20. ^ Retrieved March 2009 The Godfather: Part III (1990) Soundtrack

Sources

  • Rupert Cornwell, God's Banker: The Life and Death of Roberto Calvi, Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1984.
  • David Yallop, In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I, Corgi, 1987
  • Director's Commentary track on The Godfather Part III DVD by Francis Ford Coppola; included in The Godfather DVD Collection

External links


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