What can I possibly say about the 1972 Academy Award winning Best Picture, THE GODFATHER, that hasn’t already been said before? Let’s face it, there is no new insight that I can impart, nor will I be able say something profound about what is one of the greatest motion pictures of all time. Intelligently written, beautifully acted and sensitively directed, THE GODFATHER is just about as perfect as any film about organized crime will ever be. Based upon the novel by Mario Puzo, THE GODFATHER recounts ten years in the lives of the Corleone family headed up by Don Vito Corleone (Academy Award winner Marlon Brando). Santino "Sonny" Corleone (James Caan) is the eldest son, but a hothead, who is being groomed to take over his father’s position. Vito’s youngest son Michael (Al Pacino) is a returning WWII veteran, who is not part of the "family business", but is drawn in when an attempt is made on Vito’s life. Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) is the "adopted" Corleone son, family lawyer and consigliere to the Don. Constanzia "Connie" Corleone (Talia Shire) is Vito’s only daughter and it is at her wedding that the film opens. Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) starts off as Michael’s girlfriend, but ultimately becomes his wife. The cast of THE GODFATHER also features Richard Castellano, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, Al Lettieri, Abe Vigoda, Gianni Russo, John Cazale, Rudy Bond, Al Martino, Morgana King, Lenny Montana, John Martino, Salvatore Corsitto, Richard Bright, Alex Rocco, Tony Giorgio and Vito Scotti.
THE GODFATHER PART II
They say second helpings are never quite as good as the first. That is not the case with 1974’s Academy Award winning Best Picture, THE GODFATHER PART II, a film that is every bit as good as its predecessor- if not better. Serving as both a sequel and prequel, THE GODFATHER PART II tells the continuing story of Don Michael Corleone and the "family business" as well as tracing the back-story of young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) from his early days in Sicily to his immigration to America to the founding of the Corleone "family business" on the mean streets of New York City. Transitioning back and forth between the two time periods and two stories, we see Vito as a young boy and the polarizing events that started him on his path of vengeance and into the world of organized crime. As Michael’s story plays out, we see there is nothing left of the good man he was at the beginning of the first film; he is totally consumed by the "family business" and his position as Don. In addition to the returning cast members from the first film, THE GODFATHER PART II also introduces Lee Strasberg as Jewish gangster Hyman Roth, with whom Michael has dealing in an attempt to move the Corleone business interests into the gambling industry. The cast of THE GODFATHER PART II also features Michael V. Gazzo, G.D. Spradlin, Richard Bright, Bruno Kirby, Frank Sivero, Morgana King, Dominic Chianese, Troy Donahue and Joe Spinell.
THE GODFATHER PART III
Considering all the negative press it received upon its theatrical release, THE GODFATHER PART III proved itself to be a big surprise and a truly great movie, and comes very close to its predecessors. By the third film, decades have passed in the life of Don Michael Corleone, but the guilt of his misdeeds has left him with the taste of ashes in his mouth and questioning his legacy. Now repentant, Michael tries to live up to his old promise of taking the family into legitimacy, but his past won’t stay buried and he keeps being dragged back in to the "family business". Pacino's third appearance as Michael Corleone has lost none of its power; in fact, he is even better as the older, wiser and world-wearier Michael Corleone. Talia Shire's turn as the Corleone family's version Lucretia Borgia is one of the best performances in the film. In addition to the returning cast members from the previous installments, THE GODFATHER PART III adds Andy Garcia as Vincent Mancini, Sonny’s illegitimate son who comes to Michael for guidance and his birthright as Corleone. Eli Wallach is always a pleasure to watch and portrays longtime Corleone family ally Don Altobello. Joe Mantegna is Joey Zasa, who guides the Corleone’s less than legitimate business holdings and is feuding with Vincent. Finally, there is Sofia Coppola as Michael and Kay’s daughter Mary Corleone; the younger Coppola’s performance isn't as terrible as many critics would lead you to believe, but it won’t be remembered for its positive impact on the film. The cast of THE GODFATHER PART III also features George Hamilton, Bridget Fonda, Raf Vallone, Franc D'Ambrosio, Donal Donnelly, Richard Bright, Helmut Berger, Don Novello, and John Savage.
Paramount Home Entertainment has made all three films that comprise THE GODFATHER: THE COPPOLA RESTORATION ($130) available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentations of all three films are extraordinarily good- this is the best that these films have ever looked in the home venue, which goes well beyond having them available in hi-def for the first time. Cinematographer Gordon Willis shot these films to look a certain way- dense, dark and somewhat grainy; the digital restoration faithfully maintains the integrity of Willis’ work. Of course, THE GODFATHER PART III, which was shot nearly two decades after the first two installments, is the best looking film of the three. Image sharpness and detail is a variable factor, based upon how Willis photographed any particular sequence in the trilogy. Sometimes one will see tremendous clarity and detail, while at other times the image appears soft and mildly diffuse. Colors are rendered with a warm golden patina that provides the film with a slightly antiqued quality. Saturation is slightly subdued in the first two installments, but is decidedly stronger in the third. Blacks are ideally inky, and while the whites are generally crisp, there are instances where they are intentionally blown out. Contrast and shadow detail can be a bit limited due to the way Willis underexposed the negatives during principal photography. Grain is an ever-present factor that maintains the organic quality of the original cinematography, despite the film’s passage through the digital domain.
All three films that comprise THE GODFATHER: THE COPPOLA RESTORATION are presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtracks. Fidelity is the area that exhibits the biggest boost in the first two films, especially in terms of Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola’s music. Channel separation and surround usage is adequate, but unimpressive compared to modern all digital soundtracks. The third film was produced when multi-channel soundtracks were coming into their own, and is therefore, has the most impressive sound design. Additionally, sound effects are at their most convincing in the third film. Dialogue is crisply reproduced and maintains complete intelligibility across the set, but sound warmer and more natural in the final film. English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks, plus an English monaural track are also provided. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the special features. Considering the epic length of each film, the only supplement include directly with each is a running Audio Commentary with director Francis Ford Coppola. Moving to the fourth disc of collection, we find the remaining supplements. There are a number of hi-def Featurettes that are newly produced for this collection. The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't is a thirty-minute look at the era and circumstance that gave birth to the cinema classic. Godfather World is a twelve-minute Hollywood who’s who of the film series fans. Emulsional Rescue: Revealing The Godfather run nineteen minutes and looks at how the film elements were brought back from the brink of ruin- included comments with Robert A Harris, who was charged with the restoration. ...And When the Shooting Stopped spends fourteen minutes on the arduous postproduction process and Coppola’s ongoing battles with the studio. The Godfather On The Red Carpet offers four minutes of premiere footage, while Four Short Film On The Godfather presents an additional seven minutes of interview footage on various topics.
The main supplement taken from the from the previous DVD release is the seventy-three minute Documentary- A Look Inside, which looks at the production of all three films. Additional SD Featurettes from the DVD include: The Locations Of The Godfather (six minutes), Francis Coppola's Notebook (ten minutes), The Music Of The Godfather (ten minutes combined), Puzo And Coppola On Screenwriting (eight minutes), Gordon Willis On Cinematography (four minutes) and The Godfather Behind The Scenes 1971 (eight minutes). A selection of Storyboards from the second and third films is also included, as are Trailers, Photo Galleries Academy Awards Footage, the 1974 Network TV Intro and text based Biographies.
THE GODFATHER: THE COPPOLA RESTORATION represents some of the greatest films ever made, in their absolute finest home presentations. Absolutely, positively, without question recommended.
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