The Godfather Part III (1990)

R | 165 mins | Drama | 25 December 1990

Cinematographer:

Gordon Willis

Production Designer:

Dean Tavoularis

Production Companies:

Paramount Pictures , Zoetrope Studios
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HISTORY

The film begins with voice-over narration by actor Al Pacino in the role of “Michael Corleone” as he writes a letter to his estranged offspring, “Mary” and “Anthony”: “My dear children, it is now better than several years since I moved to New York and I haven’t seen you as much as I would like to. I hope you will come to this ceremony of Papal honors given for my charitable work. The only wealth in this world is children, more than all the money, power on Earth. You are my treasure. Anthony and Mary, although I entrusted your education to your mother for your own best interests, you know how I look forward to seeing you and to a new period of harmony in our lives. Perhaps you might prevail upon your mother to come to this celebration, and from time to time we can all see each other at family functions. Anyway, I remain your loving father.” As the camera pans across the letter, the written text is phrased differently than the voice-over.
       The movie then features scenes of Michael receiving his signia of honor in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, with his children and onlookers in the pews. This sequence is intercut with shots from The Godfather Part II (1974, see entry), where Michael watches from afar as his brother, Fredo, is shot to death in a fishing boat just off the shore of his Lake Tahoe, NV, mansion. Michael ordered the killing because Fredo betrayed the Corleone family.
       A title card at the beginning of the picture states: “New York City, 1979.”
       ... More Less

The film begins with voice-over narration by actor Al Pacino in the role of “Michael Corleone” as he writes a letter to his estranged offspring, “Mary” and “Anthony”: “My dear children, it is now better than several years since I moved to New York and I haven’t seen you as much as I would like to. I hope you will come to this ceremony of Papal honors given for my charitable work. The only wealth in this world is children, more than all the money, power on Earth. You are my treasure. Anthony and Mary, although I entrusted your education to your mother for your own best interests, you know how I look forward to seeing you and to a new period of harmony in our lives. Perhaps you might prevail upon your mother to come to this celebration, and from time to time we can all see each other at family functions. Anyway, I remain your loving father.” As the camera pans across the letter, the written text is phrased differently than the voice-over.
       The movie then features scenes of Michael receiving his signia of honor in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, with his children and onlookers in the pews. This sequence is intercut with shots from The Godfather Part II (1974, see entry), where Michael watches from afar as his brother, Fredo, is shot to death in a fishing boat just off the shore of his Lake Tahoe, NV, mansion. Michael ordered the killing because Fredo betrayed the Corleone family.
       A title card at the beginning of the picture states: “New York City, 1979.”
       According to various contemporary sources, including LAT articles on 24 Nov 1985 and 30 Oct 1990, Paramount Pictures was intent on producing a third picture in the Godfather series upon the 1974 release of The Godfather Part II. The Godfather (1972, see entry) and its sequel set an Academy Award record by each winning Best Picture, an honor that no other cinematic series achieved to date. In addition, the movies collectively grossed over $700 million.
       Although writer-director Francis Ford Coppola was not interested in continuing the enterprise after the first Godfather, he changed his mind when billionaire Charles “Charlie” Bluhdorn, a Wall Street mogul and head of Paramount’s parent company, Gulf + Western, presented him with a $1 million check and granted him final cut for The Godfather Part II. The 24 Nov 1985 LAT noted that Coppola wanted to be sure the series would not continue after The Godfather Part II. He concluded the sequel with the “Godfather” of the Italian Mafia, Michael Corleone, isolated in a compound at Lake Tahoe, separated from his wife and children, and responsible for the murder of all of his enemies, including his brother, Fredo. In Coppola’s perspective, Michael Corleone had lost everything, and had nowhere to go.
       In spring 1977, three years after the release of The Godfather Part II, director Richard Brooks was summoned to a secret meeting at Charles Bluhdorn’s highly-guarded resort in the Dominican Republic. As reported in the LAT, Bluhdorn rarely affiliated himself with daily affairs at Paramount, but he was intent on keeping the Godfather series viable. Brooks was presented with a fifty-three page treatment for the picture, referred to at the time as Godfather III, and was asked to read it right away. Brooks told LAT that he caught Bluhdorn watching him through binoculars, hoping to gauge the director’s reaction from afar. After two hours, Brooks decided to pass on the project, claiming, “He was pressing me to continue a story that had already ended.”
       On 6 Jun 1977, Box announced that Paramount had hired Alexander Jacobs to write the script which was to be “set in today’s era,” a quarter of a century after the The Godfather Part II. Still lacking an approved script, Paramount executive Michael Eisner sent a plot proposal to producer Don Simpson. In Eisner’s version of Godfather III, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) teams up with the Mafia to assassinate a dictator in Costa Rica. To do so, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent reverses roles with an Italian gangster. In order to cover up the corruption, the government concocts a plan for the FBI agent and the mobster he is impersonating to kill each other.
       The Eisner treatment failed to gain traction at Paramount, and, according to the 24 Nov 1985 LAT, Alexander Jacobs’s story finally came to the fore in Oct 1977. In his version, Michael Corleone’s son, Anthony, who appeared briefly as a child in The Godfather Part II, inherits his father’s dynasty after Michael dies of cancer. Anthony attempts to make the family legitimate by starting an investment and insurance firm. The young man’s cousin and business associate, Tomasso, becomes the “Godfather” as a front for Anthony, but Tomasso’s lust for power leads the family into a drug-related Mafia war. Citing a “confidential Paramount memo,” LAT stated that Jacobs’s script ended in bloodshed, leaving Tomasso dead and Anthony as the sole head of the family. It reportedly received a tepid response from Paramount executives.
       On 8 Jun 1978, LAT announced that Mario Puzo, novelist of the The Godfather (New York, 1969) and co-screenwriter of the first two pictures in the series, was nearing completion on a treatment for Godfather III after twelve weeks’ work. Similar to Coppola, Puzo was not interested in continuing the series, but Bluhdorn enticed him to take over as screenwriter with a deal of $250,000 and five percent of the film’s box-office gross. The 24 Nov 1985 LAT reported that Puzo was tasked with adapting an original idea by Bluhdorn in Jun 1978, and was guaranteed six percent gross until earnings reached $10 million, with seven-and-a-half percent thereafter.
       At that time, Paramount planned to cast John Travolta as Michael Corleone’s son, Anthony. Puzo was flown to Bluhdorn’s Dominican Republic compound, where he and Bluhdorn concocted another story centered around Anthony Corleone. The young man graduates from the U.S. Naval Academy only to be recruited as an assassin by the CIA. In the Puzo-Bluhdorn treatment, the Corleone family goes ahead with the mission to kill a South American Communist leader on condition that a union leader is freed from prison. The family uses the “favor” to borrow money from the labor organization’s pension fund and siphons the cash into an Atlantic City, NJ, casino enterprise. However, the CIA comes under scrutiny by a U.S. Senate committee. To keep the assassination a secret, the CIA tries to kill Anthony, but he dodges the attack. The young Corleone moves to Lake Tahoe to live with his estranged father, Michael, and take over as “Godfather.”
       In Oct 1978, Dean Riesner proposed another plot involving the CIA and the assassination of a foreign despot. In Riesner’s version, Anthony is a wounded Vietnam War veteran. “Tom Hagen,” who appears in the first two Godfathers as Michael’s adopted brother and family consigliere [counsel], invites Anthony to meet his long-lost father in Lake Tahoe. There, Michael tells his son about the rival “Maatrocina” family but a bomb explodes, killing Michael and inciting a war between the two clans. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department realizes Anthony was formerly recruited by the CIA to assassinate a Latin American dictator. The young man must kill off his CIA associates to protect his anonymity, as well as murder the leaders of the Maatrocina family. The 25 Dec 1990 LAT added that Riesner’s narrative blamed Michael’s antagonistic older brother, “Sonny Corleone,” for Michael’s murder.
       Approximately one month after the submission of Riesner’s treatment, a 4 Dec 1978 Var news item reported that Godfather III would mark Eric Roberts’s first movie in a three-picture deal with Paramount, replacing John Travolta as Anthony.
       However, the project remained in limbo for over four years until Aug 1982, when Paramount paid Vincent Patrick nearly $72,000 to write a new treatment. As stated in the 24 Nov 1985 LAT, Patrick presented a more violent narrative than his predecessors, killing off Michael Corleone and Tom Hagen before opening credits. Without leadership, the Corleone family seeks out Michael’s “as-yet-unrevealed illegitimate son,” Gaetano, who was sent away to Sicily in his youth and became a powerful Mafia Godfather in Italy. A series of battles and kidnappings ensue, involving Anthony, now a Harvard University student, and his cousin Santino, the son of Michael’s now-deceased brother, Sonny Corleone. When Gaetano arranges the murder of his kin, they retaliate, and Gaetano is strangled by the “cincture,” or rope, of a priest’s robe.
       Six months later, a 10 Feb 1983 HR brief stated that Dan Curtis was set to direct Vincent Patrick’s script. However, he left the production to recuperate from directing and producing his original Paramount television miniseries The Winds of War (ABC, 6 Feb 1983—13 Feb 1983). Later in 1983, Paramount executive Ricardo Mestres commissioned a treatment by University of Colorado film professor Bruce Kawin. According to the 25 Dec 1990 LAT, Kawin’s narrative portrayed Anthony as a unscrupulous Nevada senator.
       On 11 Oct 1985, a theater owner named Nick Marino, who claimed to have an insider’s knowledge of organized crime due to a close “relative,” and a junior production executive at Paramount, Thomas Lee Wright, turned in a new screenplay for Godfather III. As stated in the 24 Nov 1985 LAT, the two men devoted ten months in an attempt to finally satisfy Paramount’s vision for the third Godfather. A 17 Dec 1990 LAT article, as well as the 25 Dec 1990 LAT and the 29 Nov 1994 HR, stated that Paramount purchased the script for $35,000, with the promise of an additional $100,000 after the film was produced.
       The Marino-Wright screenplay, titled The Godfather: The Family Continues, picks up with Michael Corleone is back in power, trying to seize control over the burgeoning gambling syndicate in Atlantic City. However, the Irish Mafia threatens the Corleone stronghold and Michael moves from Lake Tahoe to New York City to fight his enemies. There, he is joined by his formerly disaffected son, Anthony, who is indoctrinated into the Mafia by his cousin, Vince. When Tom Hagen and Vince are murdered, Michael’s sister, Connie, becomes the central character in the story. At the end of The Godfather, her husband, Carlo Rizzi, was killed by one of Michael’s associates. Although she endured domestic abuse and infidelity, she never forgave her brother for making her a widow. Seeking vengeance, Connie orchestrates Michael’s murder. The 25 Dec 1990 LAT article reported a slightly different plot, making Michael a legitimate businessman. However, both accounts credited the Marino-Wright team with emphasizing Connie’s retaliation against Michael and for grooming her son, "Victor," to become the next “Godfather.”
       Four days after the Marino-Wright script was submitted, Paramount’s new Chief Executive Officer, Frank Mancuso, Sr., decided to pass on the story and go in an entirely different direction. Mancuso reportedly felt that the Marino-Wright screenplay, as well as the treatments that preceded it, failed to portray the Corleones as sympathetic characters. He argued that the first two Godfathers were a success because the Corleones were likeable despite their misdeeds, and he wanted Michael to be redeemed from his past transgressions in Godfather III.
       By late Nov 1985, eleven years after the release of The Godfather Part II, it was rumored that Paramount had already spent approximately $800,000 developing screenplays, stories, and treatments, according to the 24 Nov 1985 LAT. The article noted that the production of the first two Godfathers were benefitted by the low cost of casting. The leading actors, including Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan, and John Cazale were hired for no more than $35,000, and the highest-paid star of the series, Marlon Brando, earned $50,000 plus a percentage of the film’s gross to play “Vito Corleone” in The Godfather. Brando reportedly sold his percentage “points” back to Paramount for $100,000 early on in the production, unwittingly giving the studio a much higher share of the film’s earnings. He also refused to accept the Academy Award he earned for his performance.
       In the decade since The Godfather Part II was released, the starring actors demanded higher salaries, and it was not economically feasible to cast all the original players. LAT estimated that Pacino, alone, would cost the studio $3 million, with an additional ten percent of the picture’s box-office receipts. Coppola, who was still not contracted to write or direct Godfather III as of Nov 1985, would require a predicted $2.5 million salary, with another ten percent cut of the film’s gross.
       Paramount was convinced that Pacino was indispensible for the third Godfather, but the studio considered alternate directors, including Michael Mann, Martin Scorsese, Warren Beatty, and Michael Cimino. As of late 1985, most Paramount executives agreed Coppola was the only choice for director. Among Coppola’s dissenters was the studio’s motion picture head, Ned Tanen, who wanted to hire Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky.
       Meanwhile, Coppola’s studio, Zoetrope, was nearly bankrupt, and he sought to recoup his losses with “paycheck” teenage-audience films such as The Outsiders and Rumble Fish (1983, see entries). After vast complications with producer Robert Evans’s The Cotton Club (1984, see entry), Coppola became a “marked man” in Hollywood, according to the 24 Nov 1985 LAT. Evans believed Coppola’s failings were so irreparable that Paramount would never get Godfather III made, so he optioned a treatment from an unnamed writer and planned to produce the film independently.
       In late 1985, it was rumored that Coppola’s financial woes were making him more inclined to negotiate with Paramount, and the studio’s CEO, Frank Mancuso, Sr., personally took over the project to ensure Coppola’s participation. Mancuso told the 25 Dec 1990 LAT that the filmmaker never formally declined to direct over the years, he only said he was busy with other work. Coppola’s long-time production designer, Dean Tavoularis, told the 24 Nov 1985 LAT that the director would occasionally discuss a third Godfather, and insisted it be “Anthony’s story.” However, he remained detached from the project. In spring 1985, five real-life Mafia leaders were indicted in a New York City court and the issue of Italian organized crime was featured in newspaper headlines. Determined to capitalize on the publicity and get Godfather III into development once and for all, Mancuso secured the participation of Mario Puzo again in the hope of luring Coppola.
       On 30 Oct 1986, HR announced that Puzo had delivered a completed screenplay to Paramount, but the 25 Dec 1990 LAT noted that Mancuso hired Puzo to write another script in 1987, based on an approved treatment by NYT reporter Nicholas Gage. According to LAT, Gage eventually rewrote Puzo’s screenplay. Their version was modeled after The Godfather Part II, with flashbacks to 1930s Italy. The script also included intermittent “present day” scenes in which Vito’s son, Michael, continues to battle other families over drug cartels.
       Nearly one year after the Puzo-Gage script was complete, in mid-1988, Mancuso convinced Talia Shire, Coppola’s sister and an actress in the first two Godfathers, to hand-deliver the screenplay to the filmmaker at his home in Napa Valley, CA. Shire told the 25 Dec 1990 LAT that her brother complained about the script, so she suggested he write one of his own. Caving under financial pressures, Coppola finally signed a directing and co-writing contract with Paramount for a reported $6 million salary, with additional shares of the film’s profits. A 26 Dec 1990 HR news item listed a $5 million payment and fifteen percent of the film’s income, as well as “carte blanche” decision-making and final cut. Mancuso sweetened the deal by paying the filmmaker $50,000 for a “feasibility study,” and by Feb 1989, Coppola and Puzo began their collaboration on the script.
       LAT listed various reports about how long the men spent writing the third Godfather, ranging from six to eight weeks. An initial 133-page draft was submitted to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on 10 May 1989, according to guild records. LAT stated that Coppola and Puzo wrote seven draft screenplays, varying between 133 and 145 pages, before filming began with a 120-page script. Coppola rewrote nine additional versions during production. A 3 Jan 1991 HR column noted that the writers worked on the screenplay during a two-week stay at the Peppermill Hotel-Casino in Reno, NV, where Coppola gambled away $30,000 “in the first week.” On 12 Sep 1989, LAHExam news item reported that Coppola was still working on the script. At the time, he was trying to create a role for Robert De Niro, even though the actor’s character, young Vito Corleone, had already matured and died in the first two movies.
       Coppola told the 23 Dec 1990 NYT that he was particularly inspired by one of Puzo’s earlier versions, titled The Death of Michael Corleone. It reminded him of the Shakespearean nature of Puzo’s work, and he decided to write “a kind of ‘King Lear’.” With this in mind, Coppola and Puzo created "Vincent Mancini," the illegitimate son of Michael Corleone’s brother, Sonny. While Michael’s son, Anthony, strays from the family enterprise to become an opera singer, Vincent becomes Michael’s “spiritual heir.” Coppola had no interest in making Anthony the next “Godfather,” but Paramount executives were displeased by the story and did not think that they could sell an opera-singing Corleone to audiences, particularly to enthusiasts of the first two Godfathers.
       By Sep 1989, casting was underway, even though the script was incomplete. An 8 Sep 1989 LAHExam news item announced that Paramount was pursuing the popular entertainer, Madonna, to perform the role of Michael Corleone’s daughter, Mary. However, Madonna demanded a $1 million salary for one week’s work. According to the 23 Dec 1990 NYT, Julia Roberts was also considered for the part, but Winona Ryder was the final choice. Various contemporary sources also listed Sylvester Stallone and Eddie Murphy as contenders for starring roles. In mid-Oct 1989, Andy Garcia was selected over Alec Baldwin for the role of Vincent Mancini, as stated in a 13 Oct 1989 LA Weekly item, and Paramount was attempting to negotiate a return performance from Robert Duvall, who was reportedly holding out for the same $6 million salary as Al Pacino. On 1 Oct 1990, Var stated that Pacino was paid $8 million, plus a daily rate of $50,000 for nearly one week of reshoots. First-time feature film actor Franc D’Ambrosio was selected from over 1,000 singers to perform the role of Anthony, according to a 6 Mar 1990 HR news item.
       The 13 Oct 1989 LA Weekly announced principal photography was set to begin 15 Nov 1989, but the start date was pushed back twelve days to 27 Nov 1989. Although trade publications generally referred to picture as Godfather III during the project’s development, HR production charts listed the working title as The Godfather: The Continuing Story.
       Studio production notes in AMPAS library files state that filming began for six weeks at Cinecittà Studios in Rome, Italy. Four soundstages were used for filming interiors, including Michael Corleone’s New York City apartment, which contained an orchestra, twenty-three principal players, and nearly 200 background actors. Another soundstage contained an Atlantic City hotel suite. Roman exterior locations included Palazzo de Giustizia (the Palace of Justice), the Vatican Bank, Castello di Lunghezza, and Santa Maria della Quercia, a 300-year-old church. Outside Rome, filming took place at Villa Farnese in Caprarola, Italy. In early spring 1990, the production moved to Sicily. There, scenes were shot in Taormina and Palermo, where Anthony’s operatic premiere took place at Teatro Massimo. Interior photography of the opera house was captured at a Cinecitta soundstage. The Corleone’s ancestral town was located at the village of Forza d’Agrò, and their home was shot at the Villa Palantina, situated between Marina di Cottone and Fiumefreddo, Sicily. Filming in the U.S. included New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Little Italy, and a nightclub called The Red Zone. Atlantic City locations were centered at the Trump Castle casino.
       The 23 Dec 1990 NYT reported that production in Rome was delayed on several occasions due to Winona Ryder’s work on Mermaids (1990, see entry). When she arrived on set, a doctor diagnosed her with exhaustion-related illnesses and she was forced to leave the production. Desperate to replace the actress, Paramount reconsidered Madonna, then discussed Annabella Sciorra or Laura San Giacomo as possible alternatives. However, Coppola “shocked” and antagonized Paramount by hiring his daughter, nineteen-year-old Sofia Copppla, a novice actress who appeared as the baptized infant in The Godfather and had performed bit roles in the filmmaker’s more recent pictures, such as Rumble Fish. While Coppola was warned about a backlash from the studio, he told NYT that he was within his rights to hire supporting cast members, and his decision was based on finances as well as nepotism. At the time, the production was facing a three-week shut down for re-casting, and Coppola claimed his daughter was a natural choice, since he based the character of “Mary” on her. He noted that Sofia’s inclusion allowed the production to go on without missing a day.
       Two months into principal photography, Coppola filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as reported in the 3 Feb 1990 Screen International. The bankruptcy was predominantly due to his 1982 film One from the Heart (see entry), which he produced through his own studio, Zoetrope. Although the company was purchased in 1984 by Coppola’s Canadian financial backer, Jack Singer, Coppola was still responsible to various creditors, with “liabilities of $28.9 million and assets of $22.2 million.” In addition, he owed $6.2 million to Orion Pictures, which distributed The Cotton Club. However, work continued on the third Godfather as planned. Five days after the announcement of Coppola’s bankruptcy, an 8 Feb 1990 LAT news item announced that California Assemblyman Willie Brown had just completed a long-weekend of filming in Rome, performing in his feature film debut. On 6 Mar 1990, HR announced that the film, now referred to as The Godfather: The Story Continues, was moving from Rome to Sicily “this week.” At that time, filming at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios was already complete for the "Cavalleria rusticana" scene, in which Anthony makes his debut as an opera singer, and for the Atlantic City sequence, where Michael and his Mafiosi guests are ambushed by gunfire from a helicopter.
       Referring to the picture as Godfather 3, a 2 Apr 1990 HR brief stated that the production was currently filming in Palermo. There, divisiveness between real-world Mafiosi and the filmmakers was a constant threat, and the cast and crew had to be accompanied through the city by armed escorts. Coppola was reportedly directing “via a walkie-talkie only.”
       Eleven days after the HR dispatch, a 13 Apr 1990 LA Weekly column reported that Godfather 3 was over three weeks behind schedule, and $6 million over its $40 million budget. Co-producers Gray Frederickson and Fred Roos left Rome early, and their salaries “went to new producer” Charles Mulvehill. Although Paramount was concerned by news that the production was in “total chaos” and little was being accomplished in Italy, Mancuso was well aware that he granted Coppola an “iron-clad contract, with casting approval and final cut.” Mancuso’s only stipulation was that the picture be no longer than 140 minutes. As of mid-Apr 1990, nearly five months into production, Coppola had not decided how the film would end.
       The movie’s failure to meet its Thanksgiving 1990 release date was generally blamed on Winona Ryder’s departure from the production, according to the 30 Oct 1990 LAT. In addition, trade publications noted that there was tension between Al Pacino and Diane Keaton, who had a troubled romantic relationship outside the film. However, the 25 Dec 1990 LAT reported that Coppola caused the delay, “tinkering” with the film into Sep 1990. With only two months to go before the picture’s release date, Coppola shot an additional twenty pages of script, involving principal actors, and a new ending.
       Referring to the picture by its release title, The Godfather Part III, the 31 Oct 1990 DV reported a Christmas day opening. As of late Oct 1990, editors were working overtime to prepare for a Paramount executive screening. The final cost of the film was $55 million. After an early Dec 1990 test screening in Seattle, WA, rumors spread that Coppola cut two minutes from the 164-minute movie at the last minute, since the released version was 162 minutes. Paramount denied the claim.
       In early 1990, Nick Marino solicited and lost a WGA arbitration, claiming that he and Wright merited “story by” credits. He argued that Coppola and Puzo’s final script appropriated the characters Vincent Mancini and “Joey Zasa,” even though neither was specifically identified in The Godfather: The Family Continues. In 1994, Marino continued his pursuit of Coppola, Puzo, and Paramount for various offenses including copyright infringement, breach of contract, and the unauthorized use of his original screenplay. In addition, the 29 Nov 1994 HR stated that Marino submitted a new, unsolicited treatment to Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios in 1987, and Paramount once again turned down his work in 1989. Despite various efforts to receive onscreen writing credit, Marino’s cases were dismissed.
       On 31 Dec 1990, Var announced that The Godfather Part III grossed $14,023,983 its opening weekend, at 1,823 theaters. Its income was compared to the “alltime record-holder for a single day,” Batman (1989, see entry), which earned $14.5 million. After three days, The Godfather Part III already ranked as one of the highest-grossing movies of the year. A 2 Jan 1991 DV article noted that the film marked the “best-ever” Christmas day opening to date, earning $6.4 million. The movie brought in $20 million in the first five days of distribution.
       The release coincided with a Home Box Office (HBO) cable television “exclusive six hourlong special,” The Godfather Family: A Look Inside, as stated in a 27 Nov 1990 HR brief. The documentary aired throughout Dec 1990, complementing several screenings of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, broadcast on two consecutive days.
       Nearly one year later, Paramount Home Video released The Godfather III: The Director’s Final Cut. An 11 Oct 1991 Long Beach Press-Telegram article reported that Coppola felt rushed into the Christmas Day 1990 opening, and reunited with his editors to create the film he wished to release. Noting that the 1990 version was generally scorned by critics and audiences alike, Long Beach Press-Telegram lauded the new 170-minute version. Coppola was praised for improving the pacing and making the actors’ performances more compelling, particularly Al Pacino’s, whose acting was initially “underplayed on the big screen.” The article stated that Coppola “resurrected his movie and found the redemption his leading character never does.”
       The print viewed for this record was the 170-minute director’s cut. According to Long Beach Press-Telegram, differences between the 1990 release and the re-cut 1991 version included various reaction shots and the addition of an intimate discussion between Michael and his daughter, Mary. Other sequences were expanded, such as the reunion between Michael and his former wife, “Kay Adams,” at the debut of their son’s opera career in Sicily. In the director’s cut, the couple has a much longer reconciliation scene, and they admit there is still love between them. Modern sources stated that scenes were added to emphasize Michael’s longing to differentiate himself from his father, and get out of organized crime. The final sequence was reportedly re-edited to improve its timing and dramatic impact.
       The Godfather Part III was nominated for seven Academy Awards in the following categories: Actor in a Supporting Role (Andy Garcia), Art Direction, Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Music (Original Song, “Promise Me You’ll Remember”), and Best Picture.
       End credits include: “Dedicated to Charlie Bluhdorn, who inspired it,” and, “Scenes filmed on location at Trump Castle Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.”
       In addition, end credits list the following acknowledgments: “The producers wish to thank: Jewelry by L.A.B.A. S.r.l., Rome; F. Zeffirelli and Anna Anni for their kind concession of part of the costumes featured in ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’; Wigs by Rocchetti Carboni; Cinecitta Stages and Cinecitta Cinefonico; Fondazione Whitaker; Shoes of L.C.P. S.r.l.; Transportation supplied by Fratelli Cartocci; Catering by O.C.M.; La Sovraintendenza del Teatro Massimo in Palermo; Kodak S.p.a. for rawstock; L’opera dei Pupi di mimmo Cuticchio; Brokers: Air Transport; L’Alto Comamdo dei Carabinieri; La Polizia di Stato; Le Autorità Comunali di Palermo; Franco e Gianna Platania per il Castello degli Schiavi; Il Comune di Fiumefreddo; Il Comune di Forza d'Agrò; Il Complesso Musicale di Palermo; Cineconsult S.p.a.; Insurance Cinesicurtà; Tirelli Costumes, Rome; Peruzzi Costumes, Rome; Palace Costumes, Los Angeles.”
       The first name of sound assistant Hael Kobayashi is misspelled “Hale,” and sound assistant Shirin Bazleh’s last name is incorrectly listed as “Balzeh” in end credits. More Less

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CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Also starring:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures presents
From Zoetrope Studios
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
1st asst dir, Italian unit
Prod mgr, Italian unit
2d asst dir, Italian unit
2d 2d asst dir, Italian unit
Unit prod mgr, New York unit
2d 2d asst dir, New York unit
DGA trainee, New York unit
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Chief lighting tech
1st company grip
1st asst photog, Italian unit
2d asst photog, Italian unit
Cam loader, Italian unit
Still photog, Italian unit
Chief lighting tech, Italian unit
Asst chief lighting tech, Italian unit
1st company grip, Italian unit
1st company grip, New York unit
2d company grip, New York unit
Grip, New York unit
Asst chief lighting tech, New York unit
Elec, New York unit
Elec, New York unit
Elec, New York unit
Elec, New York unit
Elec, New York unit
1st asst photog, New York unit
2d asst photog, New York unit
Still photog, New York unit
Cam trainee, New York unit
Video asst, New York unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Prod illustrator
Draftsperson, Italian unit
Draftsperson, Italian unit
Draftsperson, Italian unit
Storyboard artist, Italian unit
Art dept prod asst, Italian unit
Art dept prod asst/Palermo, Italian unit
Art dept prod asst/Palermo, Italian unit
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Film ed
Addl film ed
Addl film ed
1st asst ed-montage
1st asst ed-film
Asst ed-montage
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
2d asst ed, Italian unit
2d asst ed, Italian unit
Apprentice ed, New York unit
SET DECORATORS
Supv set dec
Prop master
Set dec, Italian unit
Set coord, Italian unit
Set des, Italian unit
Set des, Italian unit
Swing gang supv, Italian unit
Swing gang, Italian unit
Swing gang, Italian unit
Swing gang, Italian unit
Set dressing buyer, Italian unit
Set dressing prod asst, Italian unit
Set dressing prod asst, Italian unit
Set dressing storekeeper, Italian unit
Set dressing storekeeper, Italian unit
Prop master, Italian unit
Prop buyer, Italian unit
Props, Italian unit
Props, Italian unit
Graphic artist, Italian unit
Prop dept prod asst, Italian unit
Prop dept asst/Palermo, Italian unit
Prop runner/Palermo, Italian unit
Asst set dec, New York unit
Chief set dresser, New York unit
Set dresser, New York unit
Set dresser, New York unit
Set dresser, New York unit
Scenic charge person, New York unit
Standby scenic artist, New York unit
Props, New York unit
Props, New York unit
Prop consultant, New York unit
Prop buyer, New York unit
Head carpenter, New York unit
Chief const grip, New York unit
Shop mgr, New York unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Asst cost des
Addl cost des asst
Ward shop, Italian unit
Ward shop, Italian unit
Ward shop, Italian unit
Ward shop, Italian unit
Ward shop, Italian unit
Ward shop, Italian unit
Ward shop, Italian unit
Ward asst, New York unit
Ward asst, New York unit
Men`s cost
Men's cost by Milena Canonero, Expressly realized
The fur of Sofia Coppola is by
MUSIC
Mus comp, arr and cond by
Addl mus and themes by
Mus ed
Assoc mus ed
Addl mus ed
Addl mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
Organist/Mus assoc
SOUND
Sd des
Sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR mixer
Asst sd des
Resync ed
Eff rec
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Sd asst
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley asst
Foley mixer
Foley mixer
Looping coord
Boom op, Italian unit
Asst boom op, Italian unit
Sd assoc, New York unit
Spec thanks to
Spec thanks to
Addl sd services provided by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff supv
Title des
Opticals by
Addl visual eff by
a division of LucasArts Entertainment
Spec eff, Italian unit
Spec eff, Italian unit
Spec eff, Italian unit
Spec eff armament, Italian unit
Spec eff, New York unit
Spec eff, New York unit
MAKEUP
Make-up supv
Addl make-up artist
Make-up artist for Ms. Keaton
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Addl make-up eff
Addl make-up eff
Make-up artist, Italian unit
Make-up artist, Italian unit
Asst hairdresser, Italian unit
Asst hairdresser, Italian unit
Make-up, New York unit
Hairstylist, New York unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Research
Asst to F. Coppola
Casting in Italy
Opera adv
Prod accountant
Prod controller
Asst accountant
U.S. contact
Defensive coord
Defensive coord
Tech supv/Zoetrope Studios
"Silverfish" op
Set prod asst
Prod's asst
Exec prod's asst
Exec prod's asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Financial tech adv
Unit mgr, Italian unit
Prod coord, Italian unit
Asst unit mgr, Italian unit
Auditor, Italian unit
"Silverfish" asst, Italian unit
"Silverfish" liaison, Italian unit
Prod's asst, Italian unit
Prod secy, Italian unit
Prod asst, Italian unit
Prod asst, Italian unit
Prod asst, Italian unit
Transport capt, Italian unit
Rome city permits, Italian unit
Palermo liaison, Italian unit
Palermo city permits, Italian unit
Taormina liaison, Italian unit
Set asst, Italian unit
Set asst, Italian unit
Crowd marshall, Italian unit
Extras casting asst, Italian unit
Extras casting asst, Italian unit
1st asst accountant, Italian unit
Payroll clerk, Italian unit
Cashier, Italian unit
Cashier, Italian unit
Company physician, Italian unit
Interpreter, Italian unit
Dial coach, Italian unit
Voice coach, Italian unit
Voice coach, Italian unit
Sicilian dial coach, Italian unit
Prod coord, New York unit
Loc mgr, New York unit
Dial coach, New York unit
Addl casting, New York unit
Extras casting, New York unit
Equine coord, New York unit
Teamster capt, New York unit
Teamster co-capt, New York unit
Parking coord, New York unit
Craft service, New York unit
Prod office assoc, New York unit
Asst accountant, New York unit
Loc assoc, New York unit
Loc assoc, New York unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Medical coord, New York unit
E.M.T. of Brenner Medical Productions
Medical coord, New York unit
Post prod services provided by
Post prod services provided by, Zoetrope Studios
in cooperation with
Post prod services provided by, Zoetrope Studios,
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“To Each His Own,” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, performed by Al Martino
“Vitti ‘na Crozza,” by Francesco Li Causi
“Eh Cumpari,” by Julius La Rosa and Archie Bleyer
+
SONGS
“To Each His Own,” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, performed by Al Martino
“Vitti ‘na Crozza,” by Francesco Li Causi
“Eh Cumpari,” by Julius La Rosa and Archie Bleyer
“Beyond The Blue Horizon,” by Leo Robin, Richard Whiting and W. Franke Harling
“Lover,” by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers
“Senza Perdono,” by F. Pennino
“Miracle Man,” written and performed by Elvis Costello, courtesy of CBS Records/Riviera Global Record Productions Ltd.
“Dimmi, Dimmi, Dimmi,” by Carmine Coppola, arrangement by Celso Valli
“Gregorian Chant,” courtesy of G.I.A. Publications
“Brucia La Terra,” music by Nino Rota, Sicilian lyric by Giuseppe Rinaldi, Mr. Rinaldi courtesy of EMI Music Publishing Italy
“Santa Rosalia,” from “La Baronessa Di Carini,” performed by Grace Farrugia, Maria Tulumello, Vincenzina Galante & Josephine Attardo, courtesy of Global Village Music, N.Y., cassettes and compact discs
“Promise Me You’ll Remember" [Love Theme from The Godfather, Part III], music by Carmine Coppola, lyric by John Bettis, performed by Harry Connick, Jr., produced by Harry Connick, Jr. and Stephan R. Goldman, Harry Connick, Jr. courtesy of Columbia Records
Special thanks to San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Vance George, conductor
Excepts from Cavalleria rusticana, lyrics by G. Targioni-Tozzetti and G. Menasci, music by Pietro Mascagni, courtesy of Casa Musicale Sonzogno di Piero Ostali, Milano, conducted by Anton Coppola, staged by F. Coppola, associate: Guiseppe De Tomasi, chorus and orchestra of the Accademia Musicale Italiana-AMIT, chorus master: Gianni Lazzari, Turiddu – Franc D’Ambrosio, Santuzza – played by Elena Lo Forte, sung by Madelyn Renée Monti, Lucia – Corinna Vozza, Alfio – played by Angelo Romero, sung by Paolo Gavanelli, Lola – Madelyn Renée Monti.
+
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Titles:
Godfather III
The Godfather 3
The Godfather: The Family Continues
The Death of Michael Corleone
The Godfather: The Continuing Story
The Godfather: The Story Continues
Mario Puzo's The Godfather Part III
Release Date:
25 December 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening and New York openings: 25 December 1990
Production Date:
began 27 November 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
20 March 1991
Copyright Number:
PA509359
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Prints
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses
Prints
Electronically edited on the Montage Picture Processor®
Duration(in mins):
165
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30195
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1979 New York City, Archbishop Gilday indoctrinates Mafia “Godfather” Michael Corleone with the highest honors of the Catholic Church. As a recipient of the Order of St. Sebastian, Michael donates $100 million to benefit the poor in his ancestral home of Sicily, Italy. Michael earned his fortune through crime and violence, including the murder of his own brother, Fredo. However, he hopes to spend the final years of his life atoning for his sins, managing legitimate businesses, and restoring his relationship with his children, Anthony and Mary. In an effort to be closer to his daughter, Michael makes Mary the chairwoman of his charitable foundation. Michael hosts a lavish party to publicize the endowment and holds court in his office. There, Anthony enrages his father by announcing his departure from law school to become an opera singer. When the young man storms away, his mother, Kay Adams, reveals that Anthony knows about his father’s involvement in Fredo’s murder. Michael tells his former wife that his decisions were always intended to protect the “family.” He agrees to free Anthony from his role as heir to the Corleone enterprise on condition that Kay fosters his relationship with their children. After she leaves, an elderly Mafioso named Don Altobello shuffles into Michael’s study and vows allegiance with a $1 million contribution to the Corleone Foundation. Next, Michael grudgingly meets Joey Zasa, an uninvited guest. The gangster has taken over the illicit side of the Corleone business and complains about his insolent henchman, Vincent “Vinnie” Mancini. The young man is the illegitimate son of Michael’s dead brother, Sonny. ... +


In 1979 New York City, Archbishop Gilday indoctrinates Mafia “Godfather” Michael Corleone with the highest honors of the Catholic Church. As a recipient of the Order of St. Sebastian, Michael donates $100 million to benefit the poor in his ancestral home of Sicily, Italy. Michael earned his fortune through crime and violence, including the murder of his own brother, Fredo. However, he hopes to spend the final years of his life atoning for his sins, managing legitimate businesses, and restoring his relationship with his children, Anthony and Mary. In an effort to be closer to his daughter, Michael makes Mary the chairwoman of his charitable foundation. Michael hosts a lavish party to publicize the endowment and holds court in his office. There, Anthony enrages his father by announcing his departure from law school to become an opera singer. When the young man storms away, his mother, Kay Adams, reveals that Anthony knows about his father’s involvement in Fredo’s murder. Michael tells his former wife that his decisions were always intended to protect the “family.” He agrees to free Anthony from his role as heir to the Corleone enterprise on condition that Kay fosters his relationship with their children. After she leaves, an elderly Mafioso named Don Altobello shuffles into Michael’s study and vows allegiance with a $1 million contribution to the Corleone Foundation. Next, Michael grudgingly meets Joey Zasa, an uninvited guest. The gangster has taken over the illicit side of the Corleone business and complains about his insolent henchman, Vincent “Vinnie” Mancini. The young man is the illegitimate son of Michael’s dead brother, Sonny. Vinnie Mancini was also excluded from the guest list, but he talks his way into the party and Michael’s sister, Connie Corleone Rizzi, guides him to the Godfather’s office. Connie argues that Zasa dishonors the family by dealing narcotics, and Vinnie claims the gangster has a vendetta against Michael. However, Zasa wins the Godfather’s confidence. When Michael orders Vinnie to make peace with his employer, Zasa refers to the boy as a “bastardo” and Vinnie nearly bites off his ear. As Zasa is carried away, Vinnie offers to kill the gangster, but Michael does not approve. Instead, he agrees to hire his nephew for a two-week trial. Later, Vinnie kills two armed intruders in his apartment after learning they were sent by Zasa. The incident convinces Michael that Zasa is an enemy. Sometime later, the man who orchestrated Michael’s papal honors, and head of the Vatican Bank, Archbishop Gilday, tells the Godfather he “mishandled” church finances, and is now responsible for a $769 million deficit. Michael agrees to a $600 million payment for the Vatican’s stake in Immobiliare, a company that controls much of the world’s real estate. Since Michael is already the corporation’s largest stockholder, he becomes one of richest men alive, and his alliance with the Vatican clears him of his dark past. However, Michael’s take-over is opposed by Immobiliare executives, including Chairman Licio Lucchesi and the Vatican’s chief accountant, Frederick Keinszig. When Michael deposits $600 million in the Vatican Bank and arrives in Rome to ratify the deal, Keinszig objects, and the transaction is stalled until the ailing Pope Paul VI can give the final word. Back in New York City, Don Altobello warns Michael that his former Mafia colleagues want a share of Immobiliare. To ensure “peace,” Michael and Altobello host a meeting in a tented ballroom at the top of the Palazzo Azzurro Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. With all the Mafia “Dons” in attendance, Michael announces his departure from organized crime. He pleases the men by returning his multi-million dollar shares in their casinos. Since Joey Zasa wields power in narcotics, not gambling, he remains empty-handed. Declaring war on Michael, Zasa leaves and Altobello rushes after him, promising to broker a truce. Just then, the ballroom is attacked by gunfire from a helicopter hovering over the tent. Vinnie shields Michael and steals a limousine to drive them to safety. Back home, Michael learns the only other survivors were Zasa supporters and Altobello. Vinnie insists they kill Zasa, but Michael believes he is only the henchman of a more powerful crime lord, possibly Altobello. Michael realizes his newfound legitimacy is forever undermined and collapses into a diabetic stroke, screaming the name of his murdered brother, Fredo. While Michael is rushed to the hospital, his lawyer, B. J. Harrison, tells Archbishop Gilday that the Immobiliare deal must go through despite Michael’s illness. When Harrison leaves, however, Immobiliare’s chairman and Michael’s adversary, Licio Lucchesi, appears, revealing his secret alliance with Gilday. Back at the hospital, Michael’s former wife, Kay, invites him to their son Anthony’s operatic debut in Sicily. During Michael’s hospitalization, Mary and her older cousin, Vinnie, begin a love affair, and Joey Zasa further ingratiates himself with New York City’s Italian working class by sponsoring a parade, but it turns into a gun battle, and Vinnie murders Zasa. Back at the hospital, Michael condemns Vinnie’s actions, but the young man reveals that Michael’s sister, Connie, gave him the order. With Zasa dead, the Corleone family is forced to take over the drug syndicate to ensure foreign gangsters do not threaten the Italian stronghold. Michael fears for the safety of his daughter, Mary, and begs Vinnie to end their relationship, explaining the enemy “will come at what you love.” Sometime later, Altobello warns Michael there are traitors in their midst, but the Godfather refuses to relinquish power. In time, he recuperates and the Corleones travel to Sicily for Anthony’s debut in the opera Cavalleria rusticana. They stay at the villa of Michael’s aged ally, Don Tommasino. Referring to the Atlantic City massacre, Michael asks Tommasino who has power in the Mafia and at the Vatican. Tommasino names Immobiliare’s chairman, Licio Lucchesi, and warns that Altobello is a cunning mobster. Now convinced of Altobello’s deception, Michael orders Vinnie to ask the Don for work and identify Altobello’s allies. Vinnie gains Altobello’s trust, claiming he must betray Michael in order to elope with Mary. In addition, Vinnie expresses interest in taking over Joey Zasa’s territory, and admits his union with Mary is not only a romantic proposition. She is the sole inheritor of her father’s multi-million dollar foundation. The Don introduces the young man to his partner-in-crime, Licio Lucchesi. Sometime later, Michael tells trustworthy Cardinal Lamberto about corruption within the Catholic Church and begins to suffer another episode of diabetic shock. When he boosts his blood sugar with orange juice, Michael admits his seizures are provoked by stress, and Cardinal Lamberto suggests he make a confession. Although Michael has avoided penance for decades, he reluctantly admits to the murder of his brother, Fredo. The Godfather sobs as Lamberto gives him absolution. Meanwhile, Altobello plots Michael’s assassination with a notorious killer named Mosca. He and his son disguise themselves as clergymen, head toward Tommasino’s villa, and murder the elderly Don. At the same time, Kay arrives in Sicily for Anthony’s performance and Michael surprises her with a tour of his family’s homeland. He begs forgiveness, and they admit to enduring love. While the two are out, Michael’s sister, Connie, asks Vinnie to take over as head of the Corleone family in the event of Michael’s death. Sometime later, the Pope dies and Cardinal Lamberto is named his successor. He spearheads an investigation into the Vatican Bank. In response, its chief accountant, Frederick Keinszig, “disappears” with large sums of money, and Archbishop Gilday warns Licio Lucchesi that the new Pope will expose them. Back at Tommasino’s villa, Vinnie tells Michael that he has been marked for assassination by Altobello and Lucchesi. The young man wishes to counter the attack, take on the last name of his father, and become the new Corleone Godfather. Michael agrees on condition that Vinnie end his relationship with Mary. At the premiere of Cavalleria rusticana, Mafiosi congregate at the opera house. Before the performance, Michael learns that the new Pope ratified the Immobiliare deal, and he has finally achieved his dream of becoming a legitimate businessman. Connie presents Altobello with a poisoned cannolo pastry and Vinnie tells Mary their affair must end. As the opera begins, Mosca, the hired killer, sneaks into the theater with a group of priests, kills Michael’s guards, and pulls out his hidden long-range gun. He takes aim, but Michael steps aside. While Vinnie’s henchmen set out to murder Keinszig, Lucchesi, and Archbishop Gilday, the new Pope is poisoned to death by traitors in the Vatican Bank. The opera ends to a standing ovation and the family leaves the theater. Outside, a brokenhearted Mary asks her father why he came between her and Vinnie. Just then, Mosca shoots at Michael, but the bullet pierces Mary’s heart, instead. Vinnie kills the hitman as Michael screams in horror over the death of his daughter. The Godfather lives the rest of his years in Sicily, alone and haunted by his losses. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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