I met Francis Coppola in the early 90s. I was at a really nice movie theater (at least it was back then) –- Loews Ridgefield Park, which is in northern NJ very close to Manhattan. This theater had ten screens, which back in those days was not very common. It was odd because all of the auditoriums were open to the public except one that was hosting a non-publicized special screening of Frankenstein, starring Kenneth Branagh and Robert DeNiro. I look over and there, by the concession stand, is the film’s producer, Francis Ford Coppola himself. He was doing nothing in particular, so I walked over and told him what a fan I was of his films in general (the three Godfather movies, The Outsiders, and The Cotton Club, in particular.) The greatest living American director (sorry Spielberg, Allen, Tarantino, and Scorsese) was then nice enough to autograph my popcorn bucket.
After being skewered by the critics, Sophia pretty much gave up acting but did go on to write and direct the critically acclaimed The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Despite Sophia’s poor performance, Godfather III is still a must-see that’s better than 99% of the movies out there. It has an intricate, compelling story; maintains continuity with the two preceding films; features great performances by Andy Garcia, Joe Mantegna and others; and it was Oscar-nominated for Best Picture of 1990.
Here’s the extended trailer.
Lastly, if you’re a hardcore fan of The Godfather films, I recommend the The Godfather Companion by Peter Biskind, which has the complete story of the production of the three films and lots of interesting details about Part III in particular. For instance:
- Diane Keaton wanted too much money to reprise her role as Kay, so Coppola was forced to cut her part down significantly.
- Mario Puzo wrote the first outline for G III way back in 1978. In it, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is a Howard Hughes-like recluse; the Mafia and the CIA are at war; and the film's climax tales place during a Bicentennial parade. (All of this is drastically different from how the final screenplay turned out.)
- During casting, Julia Roberts was the first choice to play Mary. Madonna was also considered but at 31, it was decided she was too old for the part.
- Later, Madonna was seriously considered for the role of Grace Hamilton, the reporter who sleeps with Vincent (Andy Garcia.) At the time, Madonna was coming off the hugely successful Like a Prayer album and was arguably the biggest name in music. Perhaps partially because of this, she demanded a salary of more than half a million dollars (for what amounted to about 15 minutes of screen time) and the producers passed, eventually giving the part to Bridget Fonda.
The Godfather Companion
The Godfather Companion