And what about Sofia Coppola’s lifeless death scene? If Coppola cuts her one word, “dad?” her death might have meaning. His daughter was not an actress, but Coppola reasoned she was the real thing: a 19-year-old Italian girl and the daughter of a respected, powerful man. Was it a case of nepotism? Laura San Giacomo and Linda Fiorentino were considered for the role when Ryder had to pull out, but production was already behind schedule. The role of Mary Corleone was coveted, Julia Roberts was considered for it, and Madonna lobbied for it. Sofia has gone on to distinguish herself as a director, but her father has never heard the end of it.
For Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, Coppola and his production company American Zoetrope worked with Paramount’s restoration team, searching through 300 cartons of negative for over 50 original takes to replace lower resolution opticals in the original negative. In the featurette, Coppola says he re-edited the film to bring new life to it, changing some of the sequences, and the musical cues. He’s also said in interviews his new cut will justify casting his daughter.
For a reputedly unmemorable film, The Godfather: Part III is filled with unforgettable scenes, and performances. A massacre in Atlantic City is executed via helicopter; Andy García, as Sonny Corleone’s illegitimate son Vincent Mancini, bites the ear off Joe Mantegna’s Joey Zasa; Talia Shire’s Connie Corleone kills Eli Wallach’s Don Altobello with cannoli. The last half hour may be Coppola’s most ambitious sequences in film. The Vatican conspiracy subplot, which doesn’t quite come together in the film, may even be easier to untangle, given the new edits.
The Godfather Part III had its world premiere on Dec. 20, 1990 at the Academy Theater in Beverly Hills. Pauline Kael, reviewing it for The New Yorker, said it was a “public humiliation,” but that was because she was comparing it to the first two films. Roger Ebert ranked it higher than The Godfather Part II, and The Los Angeles Times called it “one of the best American movies of the year.” So it’s not so much a case of it being a bad film, it’s just not a great film.