The Godfather Part III
|The Godfather Part III|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Francis Ford Coppola|
|Produced by||Francis Ford Coppola|
|Music by||Carmine Coppola|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$136.8 million|
The Godfather Part III is a 1990 American crime film written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, and directed by Coppola. It completes the story of Michael Corleone, a Mafia kingpin who attempts to legitimize his criminal empire. The film also interweaves a fictionalized account of two real-life events into its plot: the 1978 death of Pope John Paul I and the Papal banking scandal of 1981–1982; both are linked to Michael Corleone's business affairs. 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 but Paramount Pictures found that unacceptable. Coppola subsequently stated that The Godfather series is two films, and Part III is the epilogue. Part III received mixed to positive reviews compared to the critical acclaim that the first two films received. It grossed $136,766,062 and was nominated for seven Academy Awards including the Academy Award for Best Picture.
In 1979, as Michael Corleone is approaching 60, he regrets his ruthless rise to power, and is especially guilt-ridden for having his brother, Fredo, murdered. He has semi-retired from the Mafia, leaving the Corleone family's criminal interests under enforcer Joey Zasa's control. Michael uses his tremendous wealth and power in an attempt to rehabilitate his reputation via numerous charitable acts. Michael and Kay divorced in 1960, and Kay was given 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 the following reception, Anthony tells his father that he is leaving law school to become an opera singer. Kay supports his decision, but Michael wants Anthony to finish school or enter the family business; Anthony refuses any involvement in his father's "legacy". Michael and Kay have an uneasy reunion, in which Kay reveals that she and Anthony know the truth about Fredo's death.
Vincent Mancini, Sonny Corleone's illegitimate son with Lucy Mancini, arrives at the reception. 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 meeting between Vincent and Zasa. When Zasa calls Vincent a bastard, Vincent bites Zasa's ear. When Vincent overpowers two hitmen sent to kill him, he learns that Zasa was responsible. Michael, troubled by Vincent's fiery temper but impressed by his family loyalty, agrees to take his nephew under his wing, telling him he wants Vincent to adopt the Corleone name.
Michael's recent stock purchase in International Immobiliare, an international real estate holding company known as "the world's biggest landlord", makes him its largest single shareholder, with six seats on the company's 13-member board of directors. He makes a tender offer to buy the Vatican's 25% share in the company, which will give him controlling interest. Knowing that Archbishop Gilday, head of the Vatican Bank, has accumulated a massive deficit, Michael offers the Bank $600 million in exchange for the shares. The Immobiliare's board quickly approve the offer, but it must be ratified in Rome by Pope Paul VI, who is gravely ill. Without his word, the deal remains in limbo.
Soon after, Don Altobello, an elderly New York Mafia boss and Connie's godfather, visits Michael, telling him that his old partners on the Commission want in on the Immobiliare deal. Michael wants the deal untainted by Mafia involvement and pays off the mob bosses from the sale of his Las Vegas holdings. Zasa receives nothing and, declaring Michael his enemy, storms out. Altobello follows Zasa, saying he will reason with him. Minutes 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.
Back in New York, Al Neri tells Michael that the surviving mob bosses made deals with Zasa. Believing Zasa lacks the cunning, Michael is certain someone else masterminded the massacre. He forbids Vincent from killing Zasa. Michael, who realizes that Altobello is the traitor, suffers a diabetic stroke and is hospitalized. As Michael recuperates, Vincent and Mary begin a romantic relationship, while Neri and Connie give Vincent permission to retaliate against Zasa. During a street festival hosted by Zasa's Italian American civil rights group, Vincent kills Zasa. Michael berates Vincent for his rashness, and also insists Vincent end his relationship with Mary, saying Vincent's involvement in the family's criminal enterprises endangers her life.
The family travels to Sicily for Anthony's operatic debut in Palermo at the Teatro Massimo. They stay with Don Tommasino, a long-time Corleone friend. Michael wants Vincent to convince Altobello that Vincent intends to leave the Corleone family. Altobello introduces Vincent to Don Licio Lucchesi, a powerful Italian political figure and Immobiliare's chairman. Michael discovers that the Immobiliare deal is an elaborate swindle, conspired by Lucchesi, Archbishop Gilday, and Vatican accountant Frederick Keinszig. Michaels visits Cardinal Lamberto, favored to become the next Pope, to discuss the deal. Lamberto persuades Michael to make his first confession in 30 years; after Michael confesses he ordered Fredo's murder, Lamberto says Michael deserves the suffering he has over it but he can be redeemed.
Shortly after Vincent and Lucchesi meet, Altobello hires Mosca, a veteran hitman, to assassinate Michael. Mosca and his son, disguised as priests, kill Don Tommasino as he returns to his villa. While Michael and Kay tour Sicily, Michael asks for Kay's forgiveness. They admit they still love each other. Michael receives word that Tommasino is dead, and at the funeral, Michael vows over his old friend's coffin to never sin again.
After Pope Paul VI dies, Cardinal Lamberto is elected as Pope John Paul I, and the Immobiliare deal will likely be ratified. The new Pope's intentions are a death knell to the scheme against ratifying the Immobiliare deal. The frantic plotters attempt to cover up their tracks. Vincent tells Michael that Altobello is plotting to have Mosca assassinate Michael. Michael sees that his nephew is a changed man and designates him the new Don of the Corleone family. In exchange, Vincent agrees to end his romance with Mary Corleone.
- Keinszig is abducted by Vincent's men, who smother and then hang him from a bridge, making his death look like a suicide.
- Don Altobello, also attending the opera, eats poisoned cannoli that his goddaughter Connie gave him. He dies as Connie watches from her opera 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 jugular vein with his own glasses.
The killings are too late to save the Pope. Just hours after he approves the Immobiliare deal, the Pope drinks poisoned tea served by Archbishop Gilday, and dies soon after. Mosca, still disguised as a priest and armed with a sniper rifle, descends upon the opera house during Anthony's performance, eliminating three of Vincent's men but is unable to shoot Michael. The assassin retreats to the opera house façade and attempts to kill Michael. Mosca fires twice, intending to murder Michael but kills Mary. Vincent shoots him dead.
Michael remembers all the women he has lost as a montage of Mary, Kay, and Apollonia is shown. An elderly Michael sits alone in the garden of Don Tommasino's Sicilian villa. He is eating an orange, a recurring symbol throughout the Godfather trilogy foreshadowing death. Michael slumps over in his chair, falls sideways to the ground with only a dog present.
- Al Pacino as Michael Corleone
- Andy García as Vincent Corleone — Sonny Corleone and Lucy Mancini were having an illicit affair at the start of The Godfather and Vincent is the result of that union. Being illegitimate, he was not included as one of the Corleone family at the start of this film.
- Diane Keaton as Kay Adams-Corleone
- Talia Shire as Connie Corleone
- Sofia Coppola as Mary Corleone
- Eli Wallach as Don Altobello
- George Hamilton as B. J. Harrison
- Joe Mantegna as Joey Zasa
- Richard Bright as Al Neri
- Bridget Fonda as Grace Hamilton
- Raf Vallone as Cardinal Lamberto
- Franc D'Ambrosio as Anthony Corleone
- Donal Donnelly as Archbishop Gilday
- Helmut Berger as Frederick Keinszig
- Don Novello as Dominic Abbandando
- John Savage as Father Andrew Hagen
- Mario Donatone as Mosca
- Vittorio Duse as Don Tommasino
- Enzo Robutti as Don Licio Lucchesi
- Al Martino as Johnny Fontane
- Jessica DiCicco as Child
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 One from the Heart compelled him to take up Paramount's long-standing offer to make a third installment.
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 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. On an episode of Inside the Actors Studio,[when?] Duvall said he understood that Pacino was the star but felt insulted by the difference in their salaries, saying "if they paid Pacino twice what they paid me, that's fine, but not three or four times, which is what they did." 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. 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. Whilst the death of Marlon Brando's character of Vito Corleone in the first film could not have seen him reprise his role in realistic fashion, Coppola had vowed never to work with him again following his behaviour on the film Apocalypse Now.
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. 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.
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. 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 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's aunt in the movie and Sofia's aunt in real life). 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. In addition, Coppola cast Catherine Scorsese, mother of Martin Scorsese, in a small part.
Unlike its predecessors, The Godfather Part III received mixed to positive reviews from critics. At Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a mixed response with a 67% rating, based on reviews from 57 critics. 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".
In his review, Roger Ebert stated that it is "not even possible to understand this film without knowing the first two." Nonetheless, Ebert wrote an enthusiastic review, awarding the film three-and-a-half stars, a better rating than he gave The Godfather Part II in an earlier review. In his 2008 re-rating, he gave 4 stars for The Godfather Part II and included it in his list of Great Movies but excluded The Godfather Part III. He also defended the casting of Sofia Coppola, who he felt was not 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 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 Sofia, 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 on to 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.”
Although reception to the film was mixed to positive, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Andy García), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Dean Tavoularis, Gary Fettis), Best Music, Song (for Carmine Coppola and John Bettis for "Promise Me You'll Remember"). It is the only film in the series not to have Al Pacino nominated for an Academy Award (he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather and for Best Actor for The Godfather Part II). It is the only film in the trilogy not to win 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 U.S. National Film Registry. The trilogy is the first to be nominated for Best Picture in each of its installments.
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 duration 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. 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 in which the movie was based.
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 whether it was a case of suicide or, as the Italian idiom has it, "being suicided" – in other words murder. Courts in Italy have recently ruled the latter.)  The name "Keinszig" is taken from Manuela Kleinszig, the girlfriend of Flavio Carbone who was indicted as one of Roberto Calvi's murderers in 2005.
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 official police bodyguard's thick-rimmed spectacles when Vincent 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.
The film's soundtrack received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Score. Also, the film's love theme, Promise Me You'll Remember (subtitled "Love Theme from The Godfather Part III") sung by Harry Connick, Jr., received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Song.
Following the reaction from the third installment, Coppola stated that the idea of a The Godfather Part IV was discussed, but eventually never went into production as Mario Puzo died before they had a chance to write the film, stating he and Puzo discussed a potential script told in a similar narrative to Part II, seeing De Niro reprise his role as a younger Vito Corleone in the 1930s with a young Santino Corleone gaining the Corleone family's political power, and a latter story featured during the 1980s seeing Andy Garcia reprise his role as Vincent Corleone haunted by the death of his cousin Mary, running the family business through a ten year destructive war eventually losing the families respect and power, seeing one final scene with Michael Corleone before his death. Andy Garcia has since claimed the film's script was nearly produced. Puzo's portion of the potential sequel, dealing with the Corleone family in the early 1930s, was eventually expanded into a novel by Ed Falco and released in 2012 as The Family Corleone.
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- The Godfather Part III at the Internet Movie Database
- The Godfather Part III at the TCM Movie Database
- The Godfather Part III at Box Office Mojo
- The Godfather Part III at AllMovie
- The Godfather Part III at Rotten Tomatoes