Tag Archives: The Godfather Saga

My Favorite Scene: The Godfather Part III (1990) “Just When I Thought I Was Out”

Just as The Godfather Part II was a pioneer in showing what a sequel could do in terms of equalling (in some minds surpassing) the original film, The Godfather Part III is one of the first instances of what is all-too-common now: an unnecessary franchise film.  Made 16 years after the second installment, the ground The Godfather Part III treads is unnecessary to fleshing out Michael’s character.  If you take the trilogy as a whole, I think it diminishes Michael’s story arc to see him in his dotage trying to avoid damnation while being dragged back to his true nature.  The second film showed the consequences of his choices without having to check back in on him as a senior citizen.

Making the film in the first place was a misstep, but Coppola made an even bigger one when in the most famous case of film nepotism he cast his daughter Sofia as Michael’s daughter when Winona Ryder had to drop out of the film.  Though she’s proven to be a chip off the block in the directing department, Sofia is not an actress and her painful inability to act robs the plodding film of what should be its most poignant moment.  What IS unforgettable and iconic about the film is Al Pacino’s monologue about being dragged back into the real family business.  Pacino’s made a career out of iconic monologues, and whatever your other problems with the third Godfather, no one can deny the greatness of this scene.Al Pacino in The Godfather Part III

 

My Favorite Scene: The Godfather Part II (1974) “I Know It Was You, Fredo”

 

I prefer The Godfather to The Godfather Part II, but both won Best Picture, and for most people it’s a toss-up as to which is the better film.  I prefer the first film’s narrative about Michael’s descent into Hell rather than the sequel’s about the price of reigning there.  I actually enjoy Robert DeNiro’s part of the dual storyline as a young, rising Vito Corleone more than I do Al Pacino’s expansion of his empire into Cuba amidst the crumbling of the family that was his base.

Whichever of the two films you prefer, both are flawless (and would that Coppola had just let that lie).  My favorite scene in the epic isn’t long; not even a minute.  It is, though, I believe the most powerful and enduring moment in the film.  Fredo, Fredo, Fredo.  Michael warned you, man.  You don’t take sides against the family.  This is like Mob 101!  When Michael finds out that Fredo’s been betraying him, the moment he’s dead isn’t when he actually has him killed on a lonely lake.  Mirroring Jesus’s identification of Judas as His traitor, Michael embraces him, kisses him, and then chills him to his soul with a quote that’s as legendary as any in cinema: “I know it was you, Fredo.”

John Cazale and Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II