Traditional recipes

The Godfather

The Godfather

Regardless if dad, grandpa, or another significant fatherly figure first became a proud papa at the turn of the century or in 2013, there’s a drink for each and every one of them. Here’s a plethora of picks for the male parent who helped us grow up to our present selves.

To our own godfathers - and the family men who starred in the 1972 film - we toast. Quoting Michael (Al Pacino), "Go ahead. Drink."


  • 1 1/2 Ounce Avion Anejo
  • 3/4 Ounces Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 3/4 Ounces lemon juice
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1/2 bar spoon of grenadine


Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Nutritional Facts


Calories Per Serving285

Folate equivalent (total)5µg1%

How to Throw a Godfather-Watching Dinner Party

By mid-February, I've played all the games in my game closet, tried every recipe for butternut squash, and become a bit too good at Farmville. My Friday nights need a serious shake-up. I need a little intrigue, a little murder. Yes, it's time to watch The Godfather. This iconic film is a must-see for even the most casual movie watcher, and if the party is a hit you can always follow up with parts two and three.

But before settling down to a little heart-pounding violence, I like to serve this Sicilian themed menu. In the movie, the Don himself, Vito Corleone, comes straight from the heart of Sicily, and I'd like to think even he would approve of the authentic flavors of these dishes. Bada-bing!

Games to Play

Mafia is a party game where players are secretly assigned to roles as either a townsperson or a member of the mafia. During the course of the game, the townspeople try to root out the mafia while the mafia try to kill off the townspeople. The game is easy to master and requires nothing but group participation. The rules can be found here.

The Menu

For an appetizer, fry up some panelle, or chickpea fritters. Serve with an olive tapenade, these street-style snacks pair perfectly with a glass of Sicilian wine. Get the recipe »

What wine should you choose? Sicily produces a number of quality wines, but my top choice for this meat-centric menu would be one made from Nero d'Avola grapes. Either alone or blended, they produce hearty red wines with bold, red fruit flavors often compared to Syrah.

For the main course, it's all about Sicilian ingredients: meatballs studded with pine nuts and raisins are simmered in a hearty pork ragù. Get the recipe »

I like to serve the 'balls with an orange, olive, and onion salad. It's refreshing, seasonal, and showcases Sicily's trademark citrus fruits.

Sicilians are known for their sweet tooth, so don't forget dessert! Either stop at your local bakery or make these pistachio cookies: they're nutty, buttery, and can be made a day ahead. Get the recipe »

Believe it or not, lasagna was originally a Greek dish! When the Romans conquered Greece, they incorporated some of the local cuisine into their culture. This Greek recipe consisting of layers of pasta and sauce was an immediate hit. The name lasagna is based on the Latin word for “chamber pot.” Back home in Italy it was the Sicilians who became known for the classic food you see today. From Damn Delicious comes this delicious lasagna recipe that is easy to make and freeze for a quick meal later in the week.

So to be clear, this recipe was not specifically featured in the Godfather. However oranges (the fruit) are shown all over the movie, more often then not before someone gets whacked! Arancini is Italian for orange (due to their appearance), and this classic recipe from Food and Wine is a perfect tribute (incorporating classic ingredients like Parmesan cheese and pistachios).

The Godfather: Italian Roast Beef Sandwich

Marinara meets beef in this delicious, easy Roast Beef Sandwich recipe!

Where did you go to college? I went to Mississippi State University in good ol’ Starkville, Mississippi. It’s easy to remember all the good parts of my college years like the new feeling of independence, the security of everything I needed being on or very near campus, and the community feeling of everyone being in the same place for the same reason. Of course, that’s forgetting about being broke all the time, the pressure of exams, and always looking forward to moving out of the south. It’s better just to focus on the happy memories.

Another happy memory is all the good food in Starkville! I loved the campus cafeteria, and there were a few local restaurants that we hit up again and again. One of them was called The Bulldog Deli, a sandwich place we especially loved. I got the same thing almost every single time, The Godfather. This was quite simply a sandwich with roast beef, marinara sauce, and melted cheese. I’m sure you could add other stuff to it, but I just got it that way and loved it. I know it’s not crazy inventive, but I had never seen anyone put tomato sauce on a roast beef sandwich. In fact, I’ve never seen it again anywhere else.

Since I now live thousands of miles away from my beloved Bulldog Deli, I’ll just have to make this sandwich myself. I’m excited to share it with you so you can try it too! Now, the original version was on more of a french roll and not sandwich bread. The thing is, I can’t really eat french rolls since I can’t eat wheat, so I made it on gluten-free bread as seen here. Also, their was toasted in the oven, but I like using my waffle maker when I can. I used it as kind of a panini press here. You can do it this way or heat your roast beef sandwich in the oven or in a hot skillet. Whatever your favorite way to make a grilled cheese sandwich, just do it that way

Godfather Cocktail

When I was going to bartending school (seemed like a good idea at the time), I liked the different drinks that were new to me. As I was in college, I was familiar with the standards, your Old Fashioneds, your Mai Tais, your Margaritas, those were old hat. What intrigued me were the new-fangled (only new to me, as they were all classics) drinks. One of my favorites? Oh, that’s easy. See, my final drink of the night (when not a Whisky Sour) used to always be whatever amaretto booze you have on the rocks. Imagine my delight when there was a cocktail with that plus Scotch. Oh yes. Allow me to reintroduce you to the Godfather.

I’d like to wax long and poetic about the majesty of this cocktail — talk about how complicated and fancy the preparation is and all of that. Sadly, I can’t.

Though, as I’ve gotten a little more experience in life, I’ve come to realize that it’s not the complicated things that taste good, it’s the simple things. Celebrating the simplicity of ingredients, food and preparations really do make some amazing meals.

With this you’re going to need all of two ingredients: amaretto liqueur and Scotch. As you only have two, don’t skimp here.

Luckily, our friends from Usquaebach hooked us up with their Reserve Premium Blend, so we were set on the Scotch front of the cocktail. The smokiness, notes of vanilla and spices worked perfectly for this.

Then it was just a matter of our amaretto liqueur and we were good to go!

This, for me, is a perfect after (or before, or during) drink. A little sweet, a little smoky, a lot of awesome.


The Godfather Edit

The Godfather was released on March 15, 1972. The feature-length film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based upon Mario Puzo's novel of the same name. The plot begins with Don Vito Corleone declining an offer to join in the narcotics business with notorious drug lord Virgil Sollozzo, which leads to an assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Vito's oldest son Sonny takes over the family and Michael strikes back for the assassination attempt by killing Sollozzo and a corrupted police captain, forcing Michael to go to Sicily in hiding. While in Sicily, Michael travels around the country and meets a woman he marries but who is killed in a car bombing. Michael returns to America after the news of his brother Sonny's murder. Vito then turns over the reins of the family to Michael. Michael plans to move the family business to Las Vegas but before the move, his father dies, and he plots the killing of the heads of the five families on the day of his nephew's baptism. Other subplots include Vito's daughter's abusive marriage, Johnny Fontane's success in Hollywood and Vito's second son Fredo's role in the family business in Las Vegas.

The Godfather Part II Edit

The Godfather Part II was released on December 20, 1974. The feature-length film was again directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based upon Mario Puzo's novel of the same name. The film is in part both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather, presenting two parallel dramas. The main storyline, following the first film's events, centers on Michael Corleone, the new Don of the Corleone crime family, trying to hold his business ventures together from 1958 to 1959 the other is a series of flashbacks following his father, Vito Corleone, from his childhood in Sicily in 1901 to his founding of the Corleone family in New York City.

The Godfather Part III Edit

The Godfather Part III was released on December 25, 1990. Francis Ford Coppola returned as director for the feature-length film, while also writing the screenplay with the help of the author Mario Puzo. It completes the story of Michael Corleone, a Mafia kingpin who tries to legitimize his criminal empire, and shows the rise of Sonny Corleone's illegitimate son Vincent Corleone as Michael's successor. The film also weaves into its plot a fictionalized account of real-life events, which include the 1978 death of Pope John Paul I and the Papal banking scandal of 1981 and 1982, and links them with each other and with the affairs of Michael Corleone. Coppola felt that the first two films had told the complete Corleone saga. Coppola intended Part III to be an epilogue to the first two films. [2] In his audio commentary for Part II, he stated that only a dire financial situation caused by the failure of One from the Heart (1982) compelled him to take up Paramount's long-standing offer to make a third installment. [3]

Recut version Edit

On December 4, 2020, a recut version of the film titled Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone was released in a limited number of theatres as well as being released on Blu-ray and streaming platforms. [4] [5] Coppola said the film is the version he and Puzo had originally envisioned, and it "vindicates" its status among the trilogy and his daughter Sofia's performance. [6] Sofia's performance was criticized negatively by critics. For example, Leonard Maltin, said that casting Sofia Coppola was an "almost-fatal flaw". [7]

Coppola stated that the idea of a fourth had been discussed but before they could take it further, Puzo died on July 2, 1999. The fourth film was intended to be a prequel and a sequel. [8] They had discussed a potential script, told in a similar narrative as Part II: with younger Vito Corleone and Sonny gaining the families' political power during the 1930s and with Vincent Corleone in the 1980s, haunted by Mary's death, running the family business through a ten-year destructive war and eventually losing the families' respect and power, seeing one final scene with Michael Corleone before his death. [9]

Many actors were announced to play in the film: Robert De Niro, Andy García and Talia Shire were slated to reprise their roles. [10] Leonardo DiCaprio was cast as a younger Sonny Corleone. [11] Robert Duvall was supposed to reprise his role as Tom Hagen. [12] [13]

On June 21, 1999, The Hollywood Reporter had reported that a fourth film was in the works with García in the lead role. García has since claimed the film's script was nearly produced. [9] After Puzo's death, Coppola decided to not continue the film series. [14] Puzo's portion of the potential sequel, dealing with the Corleone family in the early 1930s, was eventually expanded into a novel by Ed Falco and released in 2012 as The Family Corleone. [15] The estate of Puzo had sought to keep Paramount Pictures from producing the film based on The Family Corleone. [16] Now resolved, Paramount has gained the rights to make more Godfather films. [17]

Three compilations were created by Coppola and editors Barry Malkin and Walter Murch, while two were released to home media:

  • The Godfather Saga (1977) – Seven-hour television miniseries based on the first two films in chronological order and incorporating additional footage that was not included in the theatrical releases.
  • The Godfather 1902–1959: The Complete Epic (1981) – Version of The Godfather Saga that was released in video (VHS format). [18]
  • The Godfather Trilogy: 1901–1980 (1992) – Ten-hour compilation released directly to video (VHS and LaserDisc formats) in 1992 and 1997 encompassing the three films and incorporating footage that was not included in the theatrical releases and additional footage that the Saga or Epic releases had included.
  • The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration (2008) – Includes the three films on DVD (and Blu-ray) and a bonus feature disc with, among other things, an interview with David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, discussing the cultural significance of the films.
  • The Godfather Trilogy: Omerta Edition (2017) – A special 45th anniversary box set edition produced in the "limited" quantity of 45,000 copies, consisting of the Coppola Restoration versions of all three films on Blu-ray, a bonus feature Blu-ray disc, and various jacket-liner materials including quote cards, word-play magnets, and scene notes ("anatomy of a scene").
Character Film
The Godfather [19] The Godfather Part II [20] The Godfather Part III [21]
Michael Corleone Al Pacino
Kay Adams-Corleone Diane Keaton
Fredo Corleone John Cazale John Cazale
(archive footage)
Al Neri Richard Bright
Connie Corleone Talia Shire
Theresa Hagen Tere Livrano
Francesca Corleone Jeanne Savarino Pesch
Kathryn Corleone Janet Savarino Smith
Don Tommasino Corrado Gaipa Mario Cotone Vittorio Duse
Anthony Corleone Anthony Gounaris James Gounaris Franc D'Ambrosio
Vito Corleone Marlon Brando Robert De Niro
Tom Hagen Robert Duvall
Sonny Corleone James Caan
Peter Clemenza Richard S. Castellano Bruno Kirby
Salvatore Tessio Abe Vigoda John Aprea Abe Vigoda
Carmela Corleone Morgana King Morgana King Francesca De Sapio
Carlo Rizzi Gianni Russo
Sandra Corleone Julie Gregg
Fabrizio Angelo Infanti
Rocco Lampone Tom Rosqui
Genco Abbandando Franco Corsaro
(deleted scene)
Frank Sivero
Willi Cicci Joe Spinell
Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone Simonetta Stefanelli Simonetta Stefanelli
(archive footage)
Johnny Fontane Al Martino Al Martino
Calo Franco Citti Franco Citti
Lucy Mancini Jeannie Linero Jeannie Linero
Enzo Aguello Gabrielle Torrei Gabrielle Torrei
Captain McCluskey Sterling Hayden
Jack Woltz John Marley
Emilio Barzini Richard Conte
Virgil Sollozzo Al Lettieri
Carmine Cuneo Rudy Bond
Luca Brasi Lenny Montana
Paulie Gatto Johnny Martino
Amerigo Bonasera Salvatore Corsitto
Moe Greene Alex Rocco
Bruno Tattaglia Tony Giorgio
Nazorine Vito Scotti
Philip Tattaglia Victor Rendina
Vitelli Saro Urzi
Victor Stracci Don Costello
Don Zaluchi Louis Guss
Hyman Roth Lee Strasberg John Megna
Frank Pentangeli Michael V. Gazzo
Pat Geary G. D. Spradlin
Fabrizio Fanucci Gastone Moschin
Deanna Dunn-Corleone Marianna Hill
Signor Roberto Leopoldo Trieste
Johnny Ola Dominic Chianese
Bussetta Amerigo Tot
Merle Johnson Troy Donahue
Vito's mother Maria Carta
Francesco Ciccio Giuseppe Sillato
Marcia Roth Fay Spain
FBI Man Harry Dean Stanton
Carmine Rosato Carmine Caridi
Tony Rosato Danny Aiello
Vincenzo Pentangeli Salvatore Po
Mosca Ignazio Pappalardo
Strollo Andrea Maugeri
Vincent Corleone Andy García
Osvaldo Altobello Eli Wallach
Joey Zasa Joe Mantegna
B J Harrison George Hamilton
Grace Hamilton Bridget Fonda
Mary Corleone Sofia Coppola
Cardinal Lamberto Raf Vallone
Archbishop Gilday Donal Donnelly
Frederick Keinszig Helmut Berger
Dominic Abbandando Don Novello
Andrew Hagen John Savage
Mosca Mario Donatone
Licio Lucchesi Enzo Robutti
Spara Michele Russo
Lou Pennino Robert Cicchini
Armand Rogerio Miranda
Francesco Carlos Miranda
Anthony Squigliaro Vito Antuofermo
Albert Volpe Carmine Caridi
Frank Romano Don Costello
Leo Cuneo Al Ruscio
Matty Parisi Mickey Knox

Box office performance Edit

Film U.S. release date Box office gross Budget
U.S. and Canada Other territories Worldwide
The Godfather March 15, 1972 $134,966,411 $111,154,563 $246,120,974 – 287,258,196 [N 2] $6–7.2 million [N 1]
The Godfather Part II December 20, 1974 $47,834,595 $186,362 $48,020,957 – 88,377,522 [N 3] $13 million [32] [33]
The Godfather Part III December 25, 1990 $66,666,062 $70,100,000 $136,766,062 [34] $54 million [34]
Total $ 249,467,068 $ 181,440,925 $ 430,907,993 – 512,401,780 $73–74.2 million

Critical response Edit

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
The Godfather 97% (9.40/10 average rating) (131 reviews) [36] 100 (15 reviews) [37]
The Godfather Part II 96% (9.70/10 average rating) (114 reviews) [38] 90 (18 reviews) [39]
The Godfather Part III 68% (6.40/10 average rating) (63 reviews) [40] 60 (19 reviews) [41]
Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone 87% (7.60/10 average rating) (52 reviews) [42] 76 (14 reviews) [43]

Accolades Edit

The three films together were nominated for a total of 28 Academy Awards, of which they won nine. For the Best Supporting Actor award, both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II had three actors nominated for the award, which is a rare feat. Both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II won the award for Best Picture in their respective years. The Godfather Part II won the most Academy Awards with six to its credit. The Godfather Part III was nominated for seven Oscars, but won none.

  • The Godfather — Nominations: 10, Wins: 3
  • The Godfather Part II — Nominations: 11, Wins: 6
  • The Godfather Part III — Nominations: 7, Wins: 0
  1. ^ Received three nominations in this category.
  2. ^ Received three nominations in this category, winning one.

One video game, The Godfather: The Game (2006), was based on the first film. [47] [48] Duvall, Caan, and Brando supplied voiceovers and their likenesses, [49] but Pacino did not. [49] Francis Ford Coppola openly voiced his disapproval of the game. [50] Another, The Godfather II (2009), was based on the second film.

The Godfather Cocktail Recipe

I used to make The Godfather wrong. For years, I made it with Jack Daniels and topped it off with cola. How wrong I was.

At Christmas this year I decided to make myself a Godfather, but I only had Scotch to hand to mix with my Amaretto, so I used that, and didn’t top it with Coke like normal (I always knew the classic was without cola, but the norm in the UK at least is with the topping). It tasted fantastic. Even my partner Jo enjoyed it, the Amaretto was wonderful at masking the strength of the drink, just served on the rocks. I even went as far as to name it, the Glasgow Gangster (see what I did there?) just before looking online to see if there was already a name for a Scotch Godfather.

There was, and the name was The Godfather

I felt a little silly but it goes to show how easy it is to mis-learn a drink, so its always worth taking a look in the books and checking what you think you know!

The Godfather: Clemenza’s Red Sauce

After watching the Oscars a few weeks ago I thought I would visit an iconic film that won some statues back in 1973. Having earned its place as one of the best American films ever made, The Godfather is the epic story of the Corleone family, it’s patriarch, and the repercussions the family business has on his children. It is one of the most referenced and quoted movies of all time it also has some delicious food scenes!

At one point in the film “Fat Pete” Clemenza, Don Corleone’s right hand man, teaches Michael how to cook a red sauce just in case he has to cook for 󈬄 guys someday”. At first it just sounds like a delicious sauce recipe, or perhaps a filler scene in the film but it actually carries a lot of significance to it in terms of the big picture.

It is at this point in the film that Vito has been shot and Sonny is managing the family. However, the fact that Clemenza mentions that Michael may be in charge of feeding guys someday is a foreshadowing of how Michael will eventually be in charge of the family. The statement can be taken as a literal cooking for the guys, but also in a more abstract “putting food on the table” kind of way. The head of the family is in charge of his guys livelihood. Clemenza is referencing the fact that Michael will be in charge of feeding and supporting the guys in the family at some point.

I also feel that the cooking aspect here is to reinforce the idea of gang as family. Families share meals it is central to bonding as a cohesive unit, that they cook for one another is a manifestation of them taking care of and providing for one another. This reinforces the idea that they are a real family. Eventually, Michael will be cooking for/leading the Corleone family.

Also note that we never see Sonny provide for his guys in this manner which might be an allusion to his unsuccessful run as head of the family.

Clemenza teaches Michael to make a sauce and later how to perform a hit. Both are integral parts of the Mafia culture in which Michael is about to be a part of cooking for the family is introductory while protecting and killing for them is more advanced. It seems that Clemenza is in charge of teaching Michael how to grow up in the ranks like an older brother would, reinforcing the family notion.

When Clemenza tells Michael how to make the sauce there is not a lot of hand-holding. He tells him the ingredients and how simple it is a little oil, some garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, sausage, wine and sugar. I, on the other hand wanted to pass on a little more specificity for this recipe to you. The measurements can totally be changed or played around with to your tastes.

I have made pasta sauce a billion times. I usually use a bit of canned tomato sauce and add to it accordingly. I was nervous about a recipe that didn’t list the canned sauce as an ingredient. I was skeptical that this would come out too thick. I was glad to be proven wrong here. The texture was great and the taste had greater depth to it since it was not water down with the extra sauce.

For my meats I used meatballs and Italian sausage. I like the hot variety but you can use whatever you prefer. Although I feel like the spicier sausage added a lot of flavor to the sauce which I really enjoyed!

I was also curious as to why Clemenza adds the sugar. After speaking to a couple of Italian friends of mine they say that it cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and helps bring out the other flavors. I don’t know if that is correct but I am not gonna question it. Whatever the sugar does in this recipe, it works.

Overall, I liked this sauce better than my usual go-to sauce. I plan on making a bunch of this and freezing it. I guess when Clemenza was intending on teaching Michael a little about how to manage the family he had no idea he would be inspiring a suburban mom on how to manage weeknight dinner.

How Francis Ford Coppola Got Pulled Back In to Make ‘The Godfather, Coda’

The director and cast, including Al Pacino, Sofia Coppola and Andy Garcia, look back at making “Part III,” which has been re-edited (and retitled) for its 30th anniversary.

In the final scene of “The Godfather Part III,” Michael Corleone, the aged protagonist of this epic crime drama, is left in solitude to contemplate his sins, gripped with guilt over actions that have devastated his family and the knowledge that he cannot change what he has done.

Francis Ford Coppola, the director and co-screenwriter of the “Godfather” series, has never approached his work in quite the same way. These three movies have won a combined nine Academy Awards, grossed more than $1.1 billion when adjusted for inflation and gained an exalted status in the popular consciousness. But rather than regard them as immutable monuments, Coppola has treated them like an unfinished painting he is free to update.

He has previously restored and reordered portions of the “Godfather” story, modifying its multigenerational tale of corruption, vengeance and family duty as his own ideas about storytelling have evolved.

Now he has turned his attention to “The Godfather Part III,” the 1990 film that took a more meditative approach to the Corleones. Unlike the near universal acclaim the first two movies enjoy, “Part III” is remembered as the Fredo of its family — the one that doesn’t really measure up. It was criticized for its lugubrious tone, convoluted plot and Coppola’s casting of his daughter, Sofia — now a celebrated filmmaker in her own right — as Michael’s doomed daughter, Mary.

For a new theatrical and home-video release this month, Coppola has rechristened the film as “Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.” The new name pays tribute to Puzo, his “Godfather” co-screenwriter and author of the original novel, and includes the title they originally intended for the film that became “Part III.” The director has changed its beginning and ending and made alterations throughout to excavate and clarify the narrative that he always believed it contained about mortality and redemption.

The history of this “Godfather” movie is as sweeping and dramatic as the much-told tales behind the creation of its two illustrious predecessors, full of conflict, perseverance and decisive last-minute changes. It is a legend that seemingly ended with a fatally flawed result — but now has a new untold chapter that could improve the standing of the final film in one of the most influential franchises of all time.

Coppola’s personal story is of course inextricable from the story of the movie, and there is more at stake for the director than reclaiming his movie from the tarnished reputation he felt it never deserved. At 81, he is still striving to demonstrate his vitality as a filmmaker and reconnect with the rebellious energy that permeated the making of the first two “Godfathers.”

He is no longer the barnstorming artistic despot of the 1970s these days he approaches his trade like a seasoned craftsman, always honing his work in search of some mythical ideal. Using a quaint metaphor, he compared his process to fixing a cigarette lighter.

As Coppola explained in an interview, “You put in more fluid. Then it’s too much fluid, so you have to put in a new flint. You have to pull the wick out. And then, all of a sudden, it lights.”

COPPOLA NEVER INTENDED to make even one sequel to “The Godfather,” his blockbuster 1972 adaptation of Puzo’s best-selling novel. But he said he had been “seduced” by Paramount, the studio behind the films, which acceded to his demand to give the initial follow-up the then-unusual title of “The Godfather Part II.”

Already, Coppola said, Paramount had visions of building the original runaway hit into a multi-movie franchise. As he explained the studio’s philosophy, he said, “You’ve got Coca-Cola, why not make more Coca-Cola?”

When “Part II,” released in 1974, unexpectedly matched the critical and commercial acclaim of its predecessor, few of Coppola’s colleagues believed that he was interested in risking his luck on a third installment. “I always thought Francis was done with it,” Al Pacino said. He himself was ready to leave behind his career-making role as Michael Corleone. As he put it in a recent interview, “I felt a little tired of doing that kind of thing. It was consuming.”

The studio nonetheless continued to develop a third “Godfather” and courted Coppola, who had moved onto ambitious projects like “Apocalypse Now.” But in the 1980s, his costly misfires, like “One From the Heart” and “The Cotton Club,” made Paramount’s offer one that he — well, you know how the quotation goes.

“I was in much less of a strong position,” Coppola said. “Frankly, I needed the money, and I was coming out of a real financial doldrum where I had almost lost everything.”

Another incentive for Coppola to return was to team up again with Puzo, his esteemed screenwriting partner, and compose the script for “Part III”: one branch of the story would follow a new family member, Vincent (played by Andy Garcia), an illegitimate child of Michael’s brother Sonny, as he tries to earn his place in the Corleone clan, while another branch would chronicle Michael’s efforts to buy his way to legitimacy and absolution.

Pacino was delighted by the screenplay, in which Michael’s well-honed craftiness would be tested by unexpected guile within the Vatican: “He found something a little more corrupt than his criminal world,” the actor said.

Though it would be decades before Coppola could call the film “Coda,” he already saw the project as such: “It was really our intention to make it a summing-up and an interpretation of the first two movies, rather than a third movie,” he said.

IN SEPTEMBER 1989, the “Part III” cast and crew gathered at Coppola’s Napa Valley vineyard to rehearse and prepare for filming. The roster included “Godfather” mainstays like the cinematographer Gordon Willis and the production designer Dean Tavoularis.

As Coppola had toyed with the ages of the Vincent and Mary characters — first older, then younger — he had contemplated several actresses to play Michael’s beloved daughter: he had tested Madonna for the role and also considered Julia Roberts before casting Winona Ryder. Ryder was expected to arrive later in the process, so Coppola’s 18-year-old daughter, Sofia, stood in for her at this preliminary stage.

The production then moved to Italy, where the latter half of the film takes place, for an experience that some veteran members of the cast found almost indescribably sumptuous.

“For me, that was my favorite of the ‘Godfather’s, because I was happy and I really enjoyed who I was playing,” said Diane Keaton, who was Kay Corleone in all three films. “At the time, I was with Al. I was sort of his — I don’t know what you would call me — I guess I was his girlfriend. It was an amazing experience just to be there and partake.”

Coppola was working against a grueling timetable dictated by Paramount, which wanted the movie for Christmas 1990, but the actors found him to be a meticulous and communicative director.

“When you were doing a scene with him, it wasn’t just, ‘OK, everybody, let’s rehearse and let’s go,’” Garcia recalled. “He takes his time to set up the world and the reasons why this scene exists and the objectives of why we’re here.”

Changes to the script were also commonplace. Citing an aphorism he’d heard from Tavoularis, Garcia said, “With Francis, the script is like a newspaper — it comes out every day.”

But in Italy, the film faced a serious crisis. Ryder, who had just finished shooting “Mermaids” in Boston, became ill when she arrived in Rome and withdrew from the film. Reports from that time said that actresses like Annabella Sciorra and Laura San Giacomo were suggested as possible replacements today, Coppola would say only that “Paramount had a list of many fine actresses who were older than I felt the character should be.”

“I wanted a teenager,” he added. “I wanted the baby fat on her face.”

Instead, the director saw his solution in Sofia, who was visiting the set on a break from her freshman year of college. She had appeared in several of her father’s previous films, including “Rumble Fish” and “Peggy Sue Got Married,” and knew his rhythms and shorthand.

Sofia Coppola said her decision to take the part was straightforward and organic, undertaken as an act of good will to her father.

“It seemed like he was under a lot of pressure and I was helping out,” she said. “There was this panic and before I knew it, I was in a makeup chair in Cinecittà Studios in Rome having my hair dyed.” But she trusted her father’s judgment and felt safe among his collaborators: “For me, they were all my family,” she said. “It felt very separate from the outside world.”

Talia Shire, who played Connie Corleone and is the director’s sister, said that Sofia Coppola’s involvement reinvigorated her father at a crucial moment.

“It was a stressful time,” Shire said. “Her being in it and his focus on sculpting her performance kept him connected to the piece. His passion for it returned.”

But amid the whirlwind that swept her up and dropped her in front of her father’s cameras, Sofia Coppola said she never considered the wider ramifications that her choice might have. “I wasn’t taking things super-seriously,” she said. “I was at the age of trying anything. I just jumped into it without thinking much about it.”

“THE GODFATHER PART III” OPENED as scheduled on Dec. 25, 1990. Critical reactions were as extravagant as the hype surrounding it, and some reviews were glowing: The New York Times called it “a valid and deeply moving continuation of the Corleone family saga” that offered Coppola “the opportunity to regain a career’s lost luster.” Many other notices were not just negative but scathing: The Washington Post said the film “isn’t just a disappointment, it’s a failure of heartbreaking proportions,” adding that it “sullies what came before.”

A particular strain of criticism focused on Sofia Coppola’s performance as Mary, who dies in a botched attempt on Michael’s life. The Post called her “hopelessly amateurish,” and Time magazine wrote that her “gosling gracelessness comes close to wrecking the movie.” Gene Siskel said in a TV review that she was “out of her acting league.”

For Sofia Coppola, the cultural whiplash was bewildering she had been asked to take part in glamorous photography shoots for magazines like Entertainment Weekly, only to find herself on their covers surrounded by headlines like “Is She Terrific, or So Terrible She Wrecked Her Dad’s New Epic?”

Looking back on the ordeal, she said, “It was embarrassing to be thrown out to the public in that kind of way. But it wasn’t my dream to be an actress, so I wasn’t crushed. I had other interests. It didn’t destroy me.”

“Part III” grossed more than $136 million worldwide it was nominated for seven Oscars but won none. Francis Ford Coppola, already smarting from the negative reviews, was further stung by what he saw as efforts to make Sofia a scapegoat for its shortcomings and blamed himself for putting her in that position.

“They wanted to attack the picture when, for some, it didn’t live up to its promise,” he said. “And they came after this 18-year-old girl, who had only done it for me.” The story he had just told in the movie provided an irresistible metaphor: “The daughter took the bullet for Michael Corleone — my daughter took the bullet for me,” he said.

DECADES WENT BY, during which Coppola continued to rework his past films, including the first two “Godfather” movies, “Apocalypse Now” and “The Cotton Club.” He also shed some of his pride and became a humbler person. If his name evokes the mental image of a burly, bearded, sometimes bare-chested beast working a camera in a Southeast Asian jungle, he and his beard are thinner now, and his manner is more deferential.

He is aware of the checkered reputation of “The Godfather Part III” and that no amount of changes might be enough to redeem it in the eyes of some viewers. As he told me in a video interview from his Napa estate, “When a movie is first made and is about to be released, you know that whatever the reaction is will define it for its entire life.”

There were things about the movie that irked him, too, starting with the “Part III” title he was compelled to accept. “It was the thread hanging out of the sock that annoyed me, so that led me to pull on the thread,” he said.

He realized that the opening in the film’s theatrical release — which mixes footage of the Corleones’ Lake Tahoe home seen in “Part II” with a mournful voice-over from Michael — made it “difficult to grasp what the story was about.” As he told me, “The audience goes into a film with a certain amount of resources. They’re willing to go with you, but there’s a limit.”

“The Godfather, Coda” now begins with a scene that came later in “Part III,” when Michael is negotiating a multimillion-dollar deal, involving the Vatican Bank and a real-estate company, with the desperate Archbishop Gilday (Donal Donnelly). The aim of this change, Coppola said, was in part to more closely parallel the opening of the original “Godfather,” when Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) hears the angry pleadings of a wronged undertaker.

Starting this way immediately establishes the stakes of the film, Coppola said: “You get it put right to you: What is the big deal about? The Corleones have reached such a level of success and wealth that they’re able to loan money to the Vatican.”

“Coda” has other nips and tucks throughout — you’ll see less, for example, of Don Altobello, a supporting character played by Eli Wallach — but the other significant change comes at the conclusion. (Turn away here if you don’t want it spoiled for you.)

Where “Part III” ended famously — some might say notoriously — with the elderly Michael slumping in his chair and falling dead to the ground, “Coda” shows him old and alive as the scene fades to black and a series of title cards appear. They read, “When the Sicilians wish you ‘Cent’anni’ … it means ‘for long life.’ … and a Sicilian never forgets.”

Despite a new title that promises otherwise, Coppola explained that Michael does not actually die. “In fact, for his sins, he has a death worse than death,” Coppola said. “He may have lived many, many years past this terrible conclusion. But he never forgot what he paid for it.”

Pacino said he enjoyed his preparations for Michael’s original death, an approach that was criticized as exaggerated and unintentionally comedic. “That was just fun to do,” Pacino said. “I spent hours, days, weeks, thinking, how am I going to die? It’s fatalist. I love dying. What actor doesn’t?”

But ending the movie as Coppola does now, with Michael stranded in a purgatory of his own making, felt right, Pacino said. “Leaving him awake, not dying, that’s the tragedy of it all,” he said.

Perhaps his only regret, Pacino said as his voice rose to an exaggerated volume, is that he cannot do the scene again when he is finally as old as Michael is meant to be: “I’m ready to do it now!” he exclaimed. “I understand it better! I don’t need makeup!”

BY INTRODUCING A NOTE OF AMBIGUITY, Coppola and his actors are aware of the familiar questions they are opening themselves up to: Could there be further “Godfather” movies to come? Could Michael Corleone still factor into someone else’s future schemes?

“It looks that way now, doesn’t it?” Pacino said teasingly. “Somebody’s going to come calling on him for advice.”

Garcia has grown accustomed to disappointing fans who expect concrete answers to these inquiries. “Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t come to me and say, Hey, man, where’s ‘Godfather IV’?” he said. “I say, I’ll let you know when I get the call.”

But running jokes aside, it is highly unlikely that these key players would go forward without Coppola’s involvement, and he has made clear that he wants to move on.

The director said there were discussions, many years ago, about a potential fourth film — as he imagined it, it would have continued the story of Vincent in the present day and returned to the story of Vito and Sonny in the 1930s — but Puzo’s death in 1999 foreclosed that possibility.

This does not prevent Paramount from making sequels if it wants to. “There may well be a ‘Godfather IV’ and ‘V’ and ‘VI,’” Coppola said. “I don’t own ‘The Godfather.’” (Paramount said in a statement, “While there are no imminent plans for another film in the ‘Godfather’ saga, given the enduring power of its legacy it remains a possibility if the right story emerges.”)

For others who participated in “Part III,” parts of the movie still hold up with the best of the trilogy, in their estimation, and its perceived flaws don’t seem as bothersome over time.

“It taught me that as a creative person, you have to put your work out there,” Sofia Coppola said. “It toughens you up. I know it’s a cliché, but it can make you stronger.”

Just a few days earlier, her teenage daughter, Romy, told her she had read about her mother’s much-discussed performance. “She said, ‘I saw online that you did the worst death scene ever in the history of movies,’” Sofia recalled. “I was like, oh my God, all these years later, it’s still a thing.”

With a laugh, she added, “I think it’s so funny that it lingers, all these years later. It’s fine.”

For Francis Ford Coppola, the fact that he has probably put his final stamp on the film series that altered his life and influenced moviemaking for decades to come is not an occasion for nostalgia or celebration it’s just a reminder that there are so many more kinds of movies he still wants to make and genres he wants to play in.

“I like life to be an experience that I learn from,” he said. “I felt a sense of completion after the first one. I felt the first film had all the story I saw in the book. I felt satisfied that it was summed up.”

If there are more “Godfather” movies to come, he said, “I won’t do ’em. But I’m an old man.”

1 package (.25 ounce size) rapid-rise active yeast
1 cup warm water, between 105-115 degrees F
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
1 pound cooked Italian sausage, crumbled
1 can (28 ounce size) diced tomatoes, well drained
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In the mixing bowl add the warm water, yeast and sugar, stir with a whisk. Add 2 cups of the flour, salt, cornmeal and olive oil. Use the paddle and mix on speed 2 for 2 minutes.

Put on the dough hook and add the remaining flour. Knead on speed 2 until the dough clings to the hook, and then knead on speed 2 for 5 minutes longer. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 hour.

With oiled fingers press the dough into a deep-dish pizza pan.

Cover the dough with the mozzarella, and then top with the sausage. Place the tomatoes over the sausage. Top with the basil, oregano and Parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 500 degrees F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is brown.

Watch the video: the godfather best scene (December 2021).