Combustible Celluloid
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With: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, George Hamilton, Bridget Fonda, Sofia Coppola, Raf Vallone, Franc D'Ambrosio, Donal Donnelly, Richard Bright, Helmut Berger, Don Novello, John Savage, Franco Citti
Written by: Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language
Running Time: 162
Date: 12/19/1990

The Godfather Part III (1990)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Just When We Thought We Were Out

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Very few have stepped up to bat to defend The Godfather Part III (1990), which I consider a masterpiece and the equal of Parts I and II. As Coppola reveals (several times) in his commentary track, Godfather III was originally to be called The Death of Michael Corleone, and that's essentially what it is. It's the final chapter of a dark life and an epilogue -- one that ends appropriately with a whimper instead of a bang.

Instead of remaining loyal to the family, Michael Corleone's (Al Pacino's) children flit off on their own, one becoming an opera singer, the other falling in love with her cousin. Michael's best men have all left him and he's stuck with a WASP lawyer (George Hamilton) instead of his trusted consigliere Tom Hagan (Robert Duvall), and Sonny's bastard son Vincent (Andy Garcia) instead of a blood brother.

Michael himself has grown steely and stooped and raspy, collapsing under the weight of his own diabetes. (In one scene, he has a sugar crash and requests a glass of orange juice; oranges are the symbol of death in the Godfather trilogy.) Unlike the first two films, this is not a cool gangster flick. This is about a man paying his dues. Even the controversial casting of Sofia Coppola as Michael's daughter Mary is dead on. Her lovely adolescent awkwardness perfectly compliments the off-kilter nature of the film.

Coppola was forced to rush and turn in a 162-minute cut for the Christmas Day, 1990 theatrical release, but the home video cut runs slightly longer (about seven minutes) -- and is drastically better -- than the theatrical cut.

Harry Connick Jr. performs the beautiful Love Theme, "Promise Me You'll Remember." The movie received seven Oscar nominations -- including Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Garcia), Cinematography, Art Direction, Editing, and Song -- but did not win anything. Al Pacino was nominated for Dick Tracy but not for The Godfather Part III. GoodFellas was also a major nominee, but Dances With Wolves took most of the year's awards.

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