It's hard to imagine there was a time, initially upon release, that The Godfather Part III
wasn't universally laughed at. While it did have it's mixed reviews, it had a lot of praise too, also garnered some nice box office receipts (effectively saving Zoetrope Studios - the reason Coppola did the movie - well, that and Paramount threatened to give the franchise to Stallone) and it was nominated for both 7 Academy Awards and 7 Golden Globes...okay and Sofia Coppola got nominated not for one but two Razzie's, but we'll get to that. It took shows like The Simpsons
mercilessly mocking it to create a cloud around the film in which makes most people feel that they can skip it entirely (while still mocking it as if they'd seen it) or go into seeing it for the first time (or first time in years) with such negative connotations to it BEFOREHAND, that they're prepared to openly mock and hate it from the get go. I've never hated The Godfather Part III
, and in fact most people I've shared they trilogy with didn't either - one girl in fact called it her favorite (a bit strange), but I'll get to that too...
It's time to defend The Godfather Part III
by looking at THE GOOD...THE BAD...and THE FULL RETARD (NEVER GO FULL RETARD).
Still lensed by famed DP Gordon Willis, this film is every bit as dark, moody and creative as the first two films. Often soaked in warmer colors and crushed in the blacks, the film looks like the same world he crafted in the early 70's...just set in the late 70's/early 80's as the other two were in their periods. In fact, want the BEST reason not to do a Godfather Part IV
? Willis is no longer here...
Call-Backs & Returns
Like the second film, it picks the right areas to re-create or do call-backs to (the beginning and ending, which I'll go into later). Also, most characters you'd want to return would return, either in small doses (Johnny Fontane; Enzo the Baker; Lucy Sonny's big boobed slut) or in constant background like Al Neri. Okay, so we didn't get Robert Duvall but you know we at least did get...
Still Some Great Lines
|Corleone's Before the Dark Times...Before the Roman Catholic Empire|
There's some great lines to mock in GFIII
, I won't lie, but there's still some classic Godfather in there as well, most famously is Michael's "they pull me back in!" bit. We also have great bits like "never hate your enemies - it affects your judgement," "finance is a gun, politics is knowing when to pull the trigger" and Michael's initial reply to Vincent's offer of a job: "I don't need tough guys, I need more lawyers." Which speaking of lawyers, he is trying to force (and pay for) his son to become one...
Michael Opens up to His Kids
His son resents him so much (I suppose the knowledge that your Pops killed your favorite uncle when you were supposed to go fishing with him will do that to you) and yet of course Daddy is suddenly okay when he backs his career and his power is used for him. Anyhow...it's a great moment when he reveals to his sons his love of his first wife and her tragic end. Then we get creepy about the cousin love thing again, but the point is still...
Michael's Descent into Loneliness & Hiding of Pain
So much of the film deals with Michael's struggles to bring his family close together again and his guilt with those who are no longer there and his effect on those situations. Notice how he puts on sunglasses every time he feels he's being too openly vulnerable, like when reminiscing about his first wife...or all his female loves before he dies.
Cameo's in both this and her sons GoodFellas
in the same year. Top that.
Andy Garcia calls upon the Corleone Holy Trinity
Fun Fact: De Niro wanted to play Vincent! Aside from how awesome or terrible that could have been, we have to give Andy big credit, this dude had to romantically play off Sofia Coppola, that ain't easy. But more than that, he somehow finds ways to play off Sonny's temper, Fredo's naive innocence and Michael's almost unspoken smarts with this character. He also sucked up to the right family member early on...
Connie's Descent into being a ruthless old Hag
She's a wimp in the first film who lets her husband beat her yet cries after his death...by GFII
she's little more than a whore throwing the goods around to any man who will take them, though by the end she's finding herself siding with Michael. Here? She's basically gotten pure evil, getting Vincent in with Michael so business won't get too straight or Michael too weak, ordering hits without his permission, chastising him for giving confession. Her descent is no better explained when, after she tells Michael he'll be feared again, he replies "Maybe they should fear you."
Passing the Don Torch
Great moment that's important in one way or another to every GF Film, and equally important here. Vincent immediately bows in respect realizing his days of tutilage are over, and Neri and his goons pledge to the new Don and this time...Michael gets the door shut in his face.
I mentioned earlier one girl I showed the trilogy to ended up liking Part III the best... now, I'm defending this film now, but I'm not stupid, and this was strange...then I found out her reasoning, "Eli Wallach of course!" Oh...okay. Another friend once mentioned to me "Even Eli Wallach couldn't save that film..." So anyhow, you gotta love this sweet old man as snake slithering through the grass into a false sunset. RIP, Tuco!
Joe Zasa's Dapper Don
Just like certain characters and moments in the first two films were adapted from real life characters and situations, GFIII
continued on this tradition, which things like their own take on the "30 Day Pope" and Joe Zasa being this film worlds take on the Dapper Don, John Gotti. When Michael openly mocks him for his fancy dress and positive press in front of the Mafia Commission, it's a classic GF moment in which extended emotion (humiliation for Zasa, humor for the rest of us) leads to blood...speaking of which...
|Andy Garcia tries to protect Pacino from the vile hatred of Godfather III and most films he's been in this century...|
This film has no shortage of what the series is maybe best known for (aside from lines of advice that somehow work both for the mafioso underworld and 9-5 working-class guys), which is hits and whackings that never fail to surprise or be inventive. From the helicopter ambush on the Commission, the parade hit, the backstreet in Italy or...
The Final Montage
Just as this film opened up similarly to the first two (a celebration/party/event of some sort) it ends similarly too, Michael and co enjoying some kind of alibi as the dirty deeds go down. In this case Michael's son sings in a dark play about betrayal and murder in Sicily...brilliant.
This Moment & Editor Walter Murch
was cut by three different editors, but it was Walter Murch who pieced this moment together. He was reportedly so annoyed at hearing this constant screaming of Pacino's voice when another editor put together the initial cut in a edit suite next to his it led to him taking it out completely for most of it's duration. We end up having Pacino's finest moment on film, the fruition of past sins coming back to haunt him and the final descent into loneliness. His pain is all on screen without the need for the scream and it leads into a montage of Pacino dancing with the various women he loved - his first wife, Kay, and his daughter. You can say all you want about the film, but if you don't give this scene credit as one of, if not, the finest and most powerful moments in the trilogy, you can bite a bullet instead of an orange.
I want Kay Adams to be brutally murdered
I really don't think that's the point of her character, you know, to make us hate her and come to be as angered by her presence as she is in Michael's, but man she annoyed the piss out of me. She's a walking contradiction that likes to forget she'd still be teaching preschoolers for minimum wage had Michael not shown up and taken her into his limousine.
Pacino misses the mark of Michael
This is in the bad rather than full retard because there's two sides to this coin. While we do get those character moments reminiscent of who he was decades earlier ("never tell anyone what you're thinking") he often pulls later day, Big Boy Caprice Pacino and just yells and gets mad. It doesn't seem like the Michael we knew. The flip side is, here in GFIII
, he's dealing with a lot of anxiety issues and, for the past decade of the two in time spent between films, has tried to reconcile the zombie he had become and things just never seem to work out for him to get clean of it all. It may be the cracks in that exterior he just can't help but show at that point in his life...
Fun Fact #2: Coppola wanted this to be called The Death of Michael Corleone.
Anyhow Michael dies a lonely, old man in Sicily...in some ways that's perfect for his character arc, especially with how he's going in this film. However I know many fans wanted to see a Michael go out with a bullet, a live by fire die by fire end to a ruthless Don.
I know these films are basked in warm colors but did he really need to add to it? Speaking of things that shouldn't be added to a film...
|"Just imagine it, cuz, a real life child right out of the Hills Have Eyes..."|
I don't think I need to say more...
Elements of the Rome Scandal Story
A lot of this film deals with the theme of, the higher you go up the ladder and more legitimate you try to become, the more crooked and illegitimate you must be. I love a lot of the Rome dealings in this film, and theres some great shots involving it (the Pope going "over the top," the money changer hanging) but elements could have been handled better, clearer and more interestingly so. I believe they would have if Paramount had given Coppola what he wanted...
THE FULL RETARD (NEVER GO FULL RETARD
We get it at this point, if you're related to Francis Ford Coppola (and it seems about 71% of Hollywood is) you're going to get a job, even if you change your last name to Cage. I also get Winona Ryder had to back out of this role last minute. That being said Sofia Coppola deserves every bit of hate she's gotten for this role. If I heard her try to sexily say "cuz" one more time I was going to pull a Ghost Dad
and call her up, morph through the phone and clip her myself.
No Robert Duvall
So many minor and major characters came back it's a shame that Michael's right hand man, the one who put up with all his "whack all my enemies!" lifestyle, is nowhere to be found aside from his son. Even worse is Coppola planned to build the film, much like he had I and II, around the way Michael's actions lead to or are effected by the death of a Corleone brother...Santino in GFI,
Fredo in GFII
and then Tom Hagen the adopted brother here. SCREW YOU...
|Pacino smirks thinking Francis is joking as he tells him Paramounts demands|
Not only did these bums blackmail Coppola into making this (by threatening to let Sly Stallone make Part III
) but then when Coppola asked for six months for him and Puzo to craft a script? They gave him six weeks...so it'd make the Christmas '90/Oscar deadline. Topping it off with cutting the budget and thus forcing Duvall out as they couldn't afford his salary. If you do hate this movie, blame Paramount, not Coppola.
This film has problems...yes. The biggest being it's a solidly put together film that not only followed two absolute cinematic masterpieces, but it did so nearly 20 years later. All that time and hype will kill a movie (just as George Lucas). Had this even been a legit 10/10 masterpiece it would have probably taken until, well, give or take now for it to be fully appreciated. No, it's not the first two films, but it's better than an exit wound. I'd rather have the Godfather saga with it than without...
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