Film: The Godfather

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The Godfather: Part III

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Distributor: Paramount

In this third film in the epic Corleone trilogy, Al Pacino reprises the role of powerful family leader Michael Corleone. Now in his 60’s, Michael is dominated by two passions: freeing his family from crime and finding a suitable successor. That successor could be fiery Vincent (Andy Garcia)…but he may also be the spark that turns Michael’s hope of business legitimacy into an inferno of mob violence.


Sixteen years after Francis Ford Coppola won his second Oscar for The Godfather II (his first was for the 1972 Godfather), the director and star Al Pacino attempted to revive the concept one more time. Despite an elaborate plot that involves Michael Corleone seeking redemption through the Vatican while simultaneously preparing his nephew (Andy Garcia) to take over the Corleone family, the film fails to take shape as a truly meaningful experience in the way the preceding movies do. Still, Pacino is very moving as an elder Michael, filled with regret and trying hard to make amends with his wife (Diane Keaton) and grown children (one of whom is played, and not all that well, by the director’s daughter, Sofia Coppola). —Tom Keogh

Barnes and Noble

Derided by some as upon its theatrical release in 1990, the second Godfather sequel has weathered the intervening years quite gracefully, and it no longer seems as contrived or overwrought as its detractors maintained. The story begins in 1979, as Michael Corleone (Al Pacino again), having divested himself of his illegal operations, finds himself being honored by the Catholic Church for his various charitable contributions. Michael hopes to repair his fractured relationships with ex-wife Kay (Diane Keaton) and daughter Mary (Sofia Coppola, daughter of writer-director Francis Ford Coppola), but he gets sucked back into the vortex of Mob mayhem thanks to the machinations of ruthless Joey Zaza (Joe Mantegna), whose minions include Vincent (Andy Garcia), the illegitimate son of Michael’s late brother Sonny. Also involved in the intrigue is an old Italian don played by Eli Wallach, and the film’s third act brings Michael and family to their ancestral homeland for an extended confrontation that climaxes explosively against the backdrop of a colorful ballet performance. Pacino, not unexpectedly, is magnificent as the aging Godfather—weary, physically ill, but still very much a force to be reckoned with. Despite his cold-blooded ruthlessness, Michael has finally become a sympathetic character, and Coppola takes pains to make him a tragic protagonist whose last great triumph occurs simultaneously with his most heartbreaking defeat. Garcia, whose trademark intensity rivals Pacino’s, hasn’t got all that much to do, but he acquits himself handily and contributes several memorable moments. The film’s only weak link—and the one mentioned by critics in review after review—is Sofia Coppola, whose performance as Mary is hopelessly inadequate. But a single supporting character doesn’t mean all that much in a movie of such epic scope, and Part III brings the Corleone saga to an altogether satisfactory conclusion. Ed Hulse

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