There are certain legends that live in the folklore of entertainment. That Ishtar and Gigli are the two worst movies ever made. That Glitter was a disaster for Mariah Carey. That Madonna's Evita was awful, and on and on. Most of these inaccurate ideas, are based on hearsay. That is to say, most people never saw Ishtar or Glitter. They just believe what they've heard.


I recently saw the movie version of Cats, after hearing for almost a year, how god awful it was. But guess what.?..I didn't hate it!

Perhaps, there is no worse offender in this line of thought, than the idea that The Godfather Part III is not worthy of its name. That it is somehow lesser than Godfather's I and II. This, in my opinion was always incorrect...but it is even more foolish an idea, now that director Francis Ford Coppola has re-edited the film.

Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Godfather Part III. And just in time, Oscar-winner Francis Ford Coppola has cut together a brand new version of the film.

It even has a new name, which Coppola says is the title he always wanted (but Paramount wouldn't let him have).

In music, the CODA, is the "concluding passage of a piece". And so it is that Coppola has now re-named his concluding film in this trilogy: CODA: THE DEATH OF MICHAEL CORLEONE.

The film now has a new beginning and a new ending. It also has a few scenes taken out and re-ordered. It has a brighter look. Basically, it's just a version of the film that is easier to follow and tells its story in an even more powerful way. As Coppola put it:

"With these changes and the restored footage and sound, to me, it is a more appropriate conclusion to 'The Godfather' and 'The Godfather: Part II' and I'm thankful to Jim Gianopulos and Paramount for allowing me to revisit it."

It always amused me that people dogged on this film. As if it wasn't nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (it was). As if it didn't launch the career of Andy Garcia (it did). As if it didn't give us some of the most memorable lines in movie history, such as: "just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in".

How could a sucky movie, give us a brilliant line like that?!

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with one of the film's stars, Talia Shire. Talia also happens to be Coppola's sister (and a 2 time Oscar nominee herself). She brilliantly plays, Connie, who I believe is the real godfather (or godmother) as she is the final survivor, who truly carries on her father's legacy.

Talia shared that recently she, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia and George Hamilton gathered (socially distanced) inside a screening room at Paramount to watch this new cut together. She called the experience "emotional" and said she could hear Diane and others sniffling and crying in the theater.

Talia also told me:

"I felt in this particular version you were very clear about Michael's hope, truly, to have redemption"

This, for me, is the most powerful storyline of Part III. One Hollywood cliche' that is true, is that Al Pacino is a genius. You feel that in this film, in a palpable way. His character, Michael, desperate to get out of the mob, to get out of this role that he never wanted as the heir to his father's life as the head of the crime family. He hated it. He wanted a normal life with his wife and children. You can feel the suffocation of his struggle throughout this film.

Talia continued:

"this time it was very clear, this man wanted so much...so I felt this movie was very clear in terms of the plot and in terms of Michael's spiritual need for redemption. And my character, of course, is sinister. And she doesn't seem to want that to happen."

Talia also pointed out a few facts that should have made sense to critics over the years. To paraphrase, that even a director as successful and powerful as her brother, at the end of the day, only has so much time to work on a film before you have to turn it over to the bosses and you have to acquiesce to them when it comes to things like: the title, and the running time, etc...

Thankfully, over the last 30 years, Coppola has had more time to think about how to tweak this 3rd part of his masterpiece. Now, it is truly worthy of its Oscar-winning big brothers (both Parts I and II won Best Picture). Now it is a perfect 'coda' for the trilogy.

I can not recommend it strongly enough. Start with parts I and II and finish with this new cut of part III. It's an offer you can't refuse.

Mario Puzo's THE GODFATHER, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is in select theaters now and debuts on Blu-ray and Digital December 8th

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