• Publication date: September 17, 2009

The Godfather III The Godfather III

Francis Ford Coppola’s enormously popular mafia thriller “The Godfather” (1972) gave audiences a ...

Francis Ford Coppola’s enormously popular mafia thriller “The Godfather” (1972) gave audiences a first look into the alluring underworld dealings of a powerful Italian-American crime family. Two years later, the director followed up with Part II, which went back to examine the rise of Don Vito Corleone, and then forward—to the late 1950s—where his son, Michael Corleone, managed the family’s affairs at the height of his power. The series was figured to be over, but Coppola returned a decade and a half later, to wrap up the saga in 1990’s “The Godfather: Part III.” Set ahead in the year 1979, Al Pacino returns to play an aging Don Michael Corleone. Deeply regretful of his violent past, Michael has given over control of the family’s criminal interests to former henchman, Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna), and has turned philanthropist. After agreeing to donate $100 million to the Island of Siciliy, the Archbishop Gilday holds a ceremony for Michael at St. Patrick’s cathedral, where he is named Commander of the Order of St. Sebastian. At a party following the ceremony, Michael has an uneasy reunion with his ex-wife, Kay (Diane Keaton), who has remarried. Also present are their two children, Anthony (Franc D’Ambrosio) and Mary (Sofia Coppola). In his study, Michael is called to mediate a feud between Joey Zasa and the hot-headed Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia), the illegitimate son of Michael’s brother, Sonny. The disagreement appears to be resolved when they embrace, but Zasa whispers an insult in the ear of Vincent, who then retaliates. Later that night, two men break into Vincent’s room and attempt to kill him. Though he is able to get the better of them, it is apparent that Zasa had ordered a hit on his life. At the same time, Michael is moving on a deal to buy up the Vatican’s 25% share of international holding company, Immobiliare, which would make him the majority owner. Michael meets with Don Altobello (Eli Wallach) and other mob bosses who have asked to be in on the deal. Though Michael is willing to appease most of them, he ignores Zasa, who then storms out of the meeting. Altobello follows, seemingly in an attempt to pacify Zasa. However, shortly after, a helicopter sprays bullets down through the glass atrium, killing nearly everyone but Michael and Vincent. In the midst of all the chaos, Michael suffers a diabetic stroke and has to be hospitalized. While Michael recovers, Vincent begins a relationship with Mary, and plots his revenge against Zasa and Don Altobello. In addition, Michael comes to realize that the Immobiliare deal was also a setup, orchestrated by Archbishop Gilday and other powerful Italian political figures. Though his awful past seemed behind him, it now looks as though Michael may have to suffer more for his sins. That the first two Godfather films were made just two years apart from one another—each shot in Technicolor—seemed to lend a visual cohesion to the series. But while some of the same characters return here for the third installment, the film generally ends up feeling separate to the series. And in a way, this is appropriate, given the passage of time, and Coppola’s intention that Part III be considered more an epilogue to the series, than a chapter in its own right. Critics offered the film measured praise, and moviegoers were equally underwhelmed, resulting in a box office draw of $66 million—a disappointing yield, given its pedigree and hefty $54 million budget. That being said, the awards committees saw fit to honor the epic-length drama with Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. Also, receiving an Oscar nomination was Andy Garcia for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Sofia Coppola’s first major role also received attention—but of the negative sort—winning Razzie awards for Worst New Star and Worst Supporting Actress. She has since gone on to find her calling in another role—that of director. This movie is rated R for violence and language.