I don’t remember the first time I saw The Godfather (1972), I suspect it would have been on a TV broadcast in either the late 70s or early 80s. It was certainly before I saw Al Pacino play a different type of gangster in 1983’s Scarface. I do remember when I first saw The Godfather, instantly falling in love with the film and realising that this is what classic cinema looked like and watching the film, I had no idea when the film was made, nothing in it looked out of place or dated and whilst the film was near 3 hours long, I wanted more. To learn more about this family, how they got to where they were, They were characters that burned themselves into my brain. I did get more when I discovered the existence of The Godfather Part 2 (1974) which I also saw on a television broadcast around the same time as I saw the first film and this film added up to over 6 hours in two films that I had spent with this family. Skip to the 1990s and Francis revisited the world and brought us The Godfather Part III which may not reach the heights of the first two films, but is still a beautiful film to see and listen too. I think part of the problem with the way people treat The Godfather Part III isnt so much the film itself (although some of it is) but its more the way the audiences self hyped the film they wanted to see, and were disappointed when it didn’t live up to the classis status of its two previous stories. and of course the ‘press’ at the time loved to pile on the dislike for Sofia Coppola who stepped in at the near last moment to replace Winona Ryder (who left the project to appear in Tim Burtons Edward Scissorhands) and I think did a wonderful job in the role of Mary Corleone (Daughter of Michael) but we all know how the press love to circle someone or something and then pile on the dislike.
Over the years I have seen all The Godfather films dozens of times, in various versions (theatrical, television versions (with extra footage) and also the reedit which was completed by director Francis Ford Coppola in 1990 which told the story of all three films but in full chronological order (with extra scenes that aren’t included in any of the other versions) and which is a fantastic way to watch the trilogy if you can get hold of a copy of it that is. I owned that set on VHS but it has since vanished, during several house moves over the years.. I wish Paramount would release this version into the world. What a treat it would be.
Now as many questions about movies are debated over the years, such as Is Die Hard a Christmas film (answer: yes), another one is which sequels are better than the first film, and when that question is asked, usually Aliens is said to be better than Alien (I however think they are both great and different enough that they are hard to separate) but also people debate is The Godfather Part II better than the first Godfather film?
After having watched home projections of The Godfather, and The Godfather Part 2 within the past couple of weeks, I just can’t choose my favourite one of them both. I love both those films, they are very similar and yet are both different in wonderful ways. The Godfather gives us Marlon Brando with his epic performance (and of course that amazing cat) whilst The Godfather Part II has no Brando but gives us Robert DeNiro as the young Vito, and is just as fantastic on screen as Brando was. We get the classic tollbooth scene in Part 1, and Fredo’s betrayal in the second film. We get Pacino’s amazing acting as he falls into the dark side in Part 1, but hes full on dark spirited in the second film. Its just not an easy decision to make, which film is better? Which do you prefer?
As I type this, I prepare to watch The Godfather:Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, which was previously titled The Godfather Part III and whilst I know that no matter how much or little reediting this film has experienced, I still love the entire trilogy a whole, (yes even the widely moaned about Part III) I am of course unsure which version of III I will stick with, Will I always revisit the theatrical version, or will Coda reimagine the concluding tale of Don Corleone for me. I will know once ive watched my newly arrived blu ray. I will say though that the blu ray has no extras on it (other than an introduction by Francis Ford Coppolla) so that is a tick in the disappointment column, no making of, no new commentary so likely I may end up owning two version of the third chapter in this epis saga. For those of you who havent seen any of the films , treat yourself. You wont regret it!
The Godfather Coda: The Death Of Michael Corleone is out now on blu ray