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The UnPopular Opinion: The Godfather Part III

01.15.2015

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

In 2001, as VHS was fading into oblivion, I was given the Christmas gift of THE GODFATHER DVD COLLECTION. A self-professed movie buff and cinephile, I had seen any number of silent films, Hitchcock thrillers, Truffaut masterpieces, and my fair share of Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma movies. I knew the terms giallo and had sat through UN CHIEN ANDALOU and yet I had never watched any of Francis Ford Coppola's iconic adaptations of Mario Puzo's novel. Yes, I had seen APOCALYPSE NOW and other Coppola productions, but for some unknown reason I had never seen THE GODFATHER. So, egg nog by my side, I popped in the first disc and away I went. I watched all three movies in a row and realized something: THE GODFATHER PART III is pretty damn good.

There is so much hatred out there for THE GODFATHER PART III to the point that I was prepared for a complete debacle. Considering the fact that Francis Ford Coppola has made some stinkers (JACK), it was not outside of the realm of possibility for this movie to have sucked, but I found myself loving every moment of the movie. Made sixteen years after the highly acclaimed THE GODFATHER PART II, the third film completes a story that there would never have been a totally satisfying way to had it been filmed immediately following the first two. And that is also part of the issue. THE GODFATHER PART I and II are essentially one film. There is even a seven hour version compiled for NBC known as THE GODFATHER SAGA that tells the first two films in sequential order. PART I and II are, despite being filmed 2 years apart, a whole film. THE GODFATHER PART III is truly the sequel to those movies.

Even a mafia kingpin gets a shitty haircut from time to time.

As far as sequels go, there is little to be upset about here. We get Al Pacino and Diane Keaton back as Michael and Kay Corleone along with Talia Shire and the addition of Sofia Coppola, Joe Mantegna, and Andy Garcia.  Cinematographer Gordon Willis and composer Carmine Coppola also returned from the first two films, giving THE GODFATHER PART III a level of consistency often missing from sequels films over a decade from the original.  The movie looks just as stunning as the first two and feels like an organic continuation and conclusion to the first two movies.  Despite garnering seven Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture, THE GODFATHER PART III is almost always considered the black sheep of the trilogy and one of the most overlooked good movies of all time.  The reason?  Sofia Coppola.

Today, we know Sofia Coppola as an Oscar-nominated writer and director of movies like THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and LOST IN TRANSLATION.  But, in 1990, she was the product of nepotism and the "near fatal flaw" to THE GODFATHER PART III according to Leonard Maltin, Gene Siskel, and Roger Ebert amongst countless other critics.  Was she truly that abyssmal in an otherwise great movie?  No, not at all.  It is easy to shit on her because she was not nearly the performer that Pacino, Keaton, or Garcia were.  Some even claim she had no chemistry with her on screen lover played by Andy Garcia.  But, looking back at the film, she brings an innocence to the role of Mary Corleone that is a striking contrast to their gravitas, something that gives the Corleone family a little more realism and less of the operatic grandeur we have expected from the films.

Everyone needs a little cousin lovin' from time to ti....nope, no, not a chance in hell.  Gross.

I can see how at the time of the film's release, with names like Madonna, Winona Ryder, and Julia Roberts vying for the part of Mary Corleone that Sofia Coppola seems like the odd one of the bunch.  But, had she gone by another name or somehow been unknown to audiences and critics, would they still have found her performance so completely awful?  I doubt it greatly.  Watching THE GODFATHER PART III recently, I found Coppola's performance to be very convincing as a bratty princess to criminal royalty.  Plus, her death scene remains one of the single most devastating moments in movie history.  There are very few moments in any movie that hit you in the gut the way this one does.

There was also criticism of the make-up and prosthetics used to age Pacino and Keaton, something I found to work quite well, especially considering when the film was made.  Michael Corleone was supposed to be 60, ten years older than Al Pacino was when the movie was made.  Andy Garcia, in my opinion, was the weakest character in the film and yet I still found myself comparing him to James Caan's hothead Sonny Corleone.  Garcia's character feels a little slimier than Caan or Pacino but he also fits in as a product of the setting of the movie, as does Joe Mantegna as Joey Zasa.  All together, THE GODFATHER PART III's cast is as good as either of the first two.

Michael Corleone demonstrates how to check if your kumquats are ripe.

Whereas THE GODFATHER PART I and II feel like the epic tale of the rise of Michael Corleone to his father's place as Don, THE GODFATHER PART III feels more like the Shakespearan fall of the family.  The Shakespeare comparison has been around since the final film in the trilogy debuted, but it is a warranted one.  This movie doesn't feel like part of the tale of the first two but rather a different chapter in the same saga.  Like any good series, this film keeps the characters consistent while changing certain aspects of the tale to keep it fresh.  But, unlike most trilogies, THE GODFATHER PART III is a satisfactory and powerful conclusion that keeps the spirit of the original film alive and respects the series while not being afraid to challenge the audience with new ideas.  Is THE GODFATHER PART III a perfect movie?  No, but it it a hell of a lot better than anyone gives it credit for.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

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Source: JoBlo.com

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-2
7:28AM on 01/16/2015
1/10.
1/10.
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+1
10:49AM on 01/15/2015
MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY! The Godfather is my favorite film of all time and to be honest, I view the trilogy as a whole. Like one big movie. So with any book for example there are certain chapters that exist that just don't have the same impact as the others. The Godfather III is essentially a last chapter to this grandiose story. The ending is utter, pure, superb perfection. The flashback sequence that shows Michael dancing the waltz with Apolonia during his first marriage, then transitioning to
MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY! The Godfather is my favorite film of all time and to be honest, I view the trilogy as a whole. Like one big movie. So with any book for example there are certain chapters that exist that just don't have the same impact as the others. The Godfather III is essentially a last chapter to this grandiose story. The ending is utter, pure, superb perfection. The flashback sequence that shows Michael dancing the waltz with Apolonia during his first marriage, then transitioning to Kay, and finally Mary is essentially Mike's life flashing before his eyes. It's just beautiful. Not to mention the scene discussed where Mary dies. The way it was shot and edited is just pure cinematic genius. If there was one scene I'd consider a masterpiece amongst film scenes, it'd be that one, the way Connie drapes her head with a black veil representing the moment of death or Michael trying to scream but is in so much agony he can't, silence, and finally Michael gasps and let's out the most pain filled cry a man could ever let out. As a father to a daughter ( m princess) I could only imagine what losing your only little girl must feel like. I could go on and on. It's perfect.
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10:43AM on 01/15/2015

just stop

we should all just stop commenting on this hack of a writers bullshit. he just looks for attention, fuck him he is a hipster turd.
we should all just stop commenting on this hack of a writers bullshit. he just looks for attention, fuck him he is a hipster turd.
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4:33PM on 01/15/2015
I agree
I agree
10:33AM on 01/15/2015
masterpiece for me...
A great conclusion for the best mob saga ever...
Godfather part 2is the only movie o my life I watched with he hans put on my head as what I was waching was so magnificent I could not believe it... NEVER happenned to me again...
masterpiece for me...
A great conclusion for the best mob saga ever...
Godfather part 2is the only movie o my life I watched with he hans put on my head as what I was waching was so magnificent I could not believe it... NEVER happenned to me again...
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10:19AM on 01/15/2015

I totally agree, although...

I totally agree, 'The Godfather, Pt. III' was and is an incredible movie, I loved it. I was disappointed Pacino didn't get nominated for his performance but he was up against the first two so it was understandable his performance in this would be overlooked. And about Roger Ebert, if I remember correctly, he liked this movie too, even thought the casting of Sofia Coppola was a good choice, for some of the same reasons you mentioned. And the makeup you're referring to wasn't about how Pacino and
I totally agree, 'The Godfather, Pt. III' was and is an incredible movie, I loved it. I was disappointed Pacino didn't get nominated for his performance but he was up against the first two so it was understandable his performance in this would be overlooked. And about Roger Ebert, if I remember correctly, he liked this movie too, even thought the casting of Sofia Coppola was a good choice, for some of the same reasons you mentioned. And the makeup you're referring to wasn't about how Pacino and Keaton looked throughout the movie, they were talking about how Pacino looked in the final scene. I still remember all these reviews. Even Roger Ebert thought it was a poor makeup job. Thank you for giving 'The Godfather, Part III' its due reward.
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10:17AM on 01/15/2015
I watched it for the first time recently and was truly gutted when she was killed at the end. Walter Murch's editing of those reactions on the stairs is masterful. Michael's muted scream to Kay's reaction, I was honestly moved. And the misdirection of the lead-up to that moment, you are unsure of which person to fear for. If I remember correctly, the viewer is supposed to be scared for Michael and also Andy Garcia's character, and then it's actually Michael's daughter who gets it.
I watched it for the first time recently and was truly gutted when she was killed at the end. Walter Murch's editing of those reactions on the stairs is masterful. Michael's muted scream to Kay's reaction, I was honestly moved. And the misdirection of the lead-up to that moment, you are unsure of which person to fear for. If I remember correctly, the viewer is supposed to be scared for Michael and also Andy Garcia's character, and then it's actually Michael's daughter who gets it.
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+2
10:07AM on 01/15/2015
Sofia Coppola did act like a bratty princess. Her performance reminds me of Kim Kardashian, which means her ending was funny and not tragic. Al Pacino's acting was WAY over the top as opposed to his excellent subdued performances in the previous films (he literally flinched at his own yelling a couple times). Talia Shire was horribly spouting Marlon Brando lines from the first film. And Andy Garcia was acting like he was in a television soap opera! The beats and cutting were sloppy and the
Sofia Coppola did act like a bratty princess. Her performance reminds me of Kim Kardashian, which means her ending was funny and not tragic. Al Pacino's acting was WAY over the top as opposed to his excellent subdued performances in the previous films (he literally flinched at his own yelling a couple times). Talia Shire was horribly spouting Marlon Brando lines from the first film. And Andy Garcia was acting like he was in a television soap opera! The beats and cutting were sloppy and the whole thing looked like a cash grab. There was no passion or consistency in this movie.
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8:46AM on 01/15/2015
As others have pointed out, the general consensus is not that The Godfather Part III is a bad movie in and of itself, it is simply subpar compared to the first two and honestly very unnecessary (as the ending of the second one said it all--no words are spoken, but an older Michael Corleone sitting completely alone and isolated, reflecting on having lost everything he ever loved, and the fact that he himself destroyed it all pretty I h concluded the story).. Part III a good bookend and Francis
As others have pointed out, the general consensus is not that The Godfather Part III is a bad movie in and of itself, it is simply subpar compared to the first two and honestly very unnecessary (as the ending of the second one said it all--no words are spoken, but an older Michael Corleone sitting completely alone and isolated, reflecting on having lost everything he ever loved, and the fact that he himself destroyed it all pretty I h concluded the story).. Part III a good bookend and Francis Ford Coppola once called it the epilogue to the series which is pretty spot on. That said I own the trilogy and love all three. I think having a better story and also not screwing over Robert Duvall would have improved it greatly.
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8:47AM on 01/15/2015
*pretty much* concluded the story
*pretty much* concluded the story
7:30AM on 01/15/2015
I enjoy it. Andy Garcia's a badass, and Sofia Coppola's not THAT bad. She's uneven, I'd say. Some of her delivery is atrocious, but there are scenes where she's really good. And it's got Eli Wallach! Overall, I really like this movie.
I enjoy it. Andy Garcia's a badass, and Sofia Coppola's not THAT bad. She's uneven, I'd say. Some of her delivery is atrocious, but there are scenes where she's really good. And it's got Eli Wallach! Overall, I really like this movie.
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6:42AM on 01/15/2015
"THE GODFATHER PART III feels more like the Shakespearan fall of the family" - for once I agree. The Godfather 1 and 2 are superb. The Godfather 3 is still a good movie, just not as good as previous two movies. And Andy Garcia shines in this movie. All in all, The Godfather 3 is a great conclusion to a great trilogy.
"THE GODFATHER PART III feels more like the Shakespearan fall of the family" - for once I agree. The Godfather 1 and 2 are superb. The Godfather 3 is still a good movie, just not as good as previous two movies. And Andy Garcia shines in this movie. All in all, The Godfather 3 is a great conclusion to a great trilogy.
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5:12AM on 01/15/2015

Perfectly decent movie.

It's just not even close to the brilliance of G1 or G2.
This article is redundant really.
It's just not even close to the brilliance of G1 or G2.
This article is redundant really.
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1:55AM on 01/15/2015
The_Conman gets it and speaks for nearly all of us. Enough said.
The_Conman gets it and speaks for nearly all of us. Enough said.
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12:19AM on 01/15/2015

*Slams face on Desk*

once again the author misses the point of the unpopular opinion. It's not that people shit on it cuz its a bad movie. People are massively disappointed by it because we went from a 300$ prime rib steak....to chicken parmigian...which by all means is delicious...but it sure as hell aint no steak.
once again the author misses the point of the unpopular opinion. It's not that people shit on it cuz its a bad movie. People are massively disappointed by it because we went from a 300$ prime rib steak....to chicken parmigian...which by all means is delicious...but it sure as hell aint no steak.
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2:32AM on 01/15/2015
I dont know what hell you are trying to say .... What do you not get about an Unpopular Opinion? The opinion across the board has been that this film is not good and thats that. not [link] he is saying it actually it is a good film.... So therefore it fits under title of an Unpopular Opinion... But you know...nice try with being clever. Its just an opinion.
I dont know what hell you are trying to say .... What do you not get about an Unpopular Opinion? The opinion across the board has been that this film is not good and thats that. not [link] he is saying it actually it is a good film.... So therefore it fits under title of an Unpopular Opinion... But you know...nice try with being clever. Its just an opinion.
4:32AM on 01/15/2015
uhhh we just admitted that its a good movie by most standards...but compared to G1 and 2 which are MASTERPIECES....its Average in comparisson. Which is the let down. So this entire article ISNT an unpopular opinion, its actually THE GENERAL opinion of this movie. He just basically summed up why we all sorta rib on it. Sorta like when (im not guilty of this) people rib on Nolans movies and give it shit. It's not because it's a bad movie, but rather that his movies are held in a higher regard.
uhhh we just admitted that its a good movie by most standards...but compared to G1 and 2 which are MASTERPIECES....its Average in comparisson. Which is the let down. So this entire article ISNT an unpopular opinion, its actually THE GENERAL opinion of this movie. He just basically summed up why we all sorta rib on it. Sorta like when (im not guilty of this) people rib on Nolans movies and give it shit. It's not because it's a bad movie, but rather that his movies are held in a higher regard.
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