9 times out of 10 – when someone is asked to list their top ten greatest films of all time, at least 1 of The Godfather films is listed – sometimes even 2 of them. Almost no one ever mentions The Godfather III film when these lists come up – most just pretend it never existed. It’s not that it’s a completely horrible film, it’s just that when comparing it to the first 2 films which were arguably masterpieces – that few films could ever match up. One could argue after a 15 year lapse of time between films – why even try? Still, it’s really an epilogue to a great series of films and is an essential part to the saga.
As great as The Godfather films were, the aftermath of appearing in these films was often devastating on the careers of any actor that came near them.
Al Pacino (Michael Corleone)
As great as Pacino was in The Godfather films, Serpico and dozens more – once he won an Academy for his role of a blind and retired Army officer who liked to scream “Hoo-Ahh” at the drop of a hat, he quickly turned that over-the-top style into his career. What was great once, just rapidly turned annoying, as did his films.
Marlon Brando (Don Vito Corleone)
In playing the aging patriarch of the Corleone family, Brando gave the performance of a lifetime – in a lifetime that was already jam-packed full of great performances. Most of the work he did after that were mostly overpaid cameos in which he didn’t even read the script and improvised under the “influence”. Sure, he was great in Apocalypse Now, but were you aware that they cobbled that 16 minutes of incoherent speech together from over 3 days of Brando rambling on out of his fricken mind? The real talent was in editing, not acting. There’s also the matter of Brando putting on so much weight in films that they often only filmed him from the chest up.
Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen)
Fantastic actor – and he’s made some great films, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a film he’s made the last 20 years in which he wasn’t wearing a cowboy hat. Like Pacino – once he found something that won him awards (in this case Emmy awards for stuff like Lonesome Dove) – he stuck to it and did nothing else for the most part. For such a great actor, it’s a shame to box yourself in like that.
Talia Shire (Connie Corleone Rizzie)
Aside from starring in popular film franchises such as the Godfather saga and the Rocky films, she hasn’t done much. Then again, her getting the role may have been as much about nepotism (she was the director’s sister) as much as acting ability.
John Cazale (Fredo Corleone)
Gave a masterful performance as Michael’s idiot brother Fredo – and followed up with some excellent feature films – amongst them The Deerhunter and Dog Day Afternoon. Unlike the others, Mr. Cazale has a good excuse for not making any more great films – he unfortunately died in 1978
Bruno Kirby (Pete Clemenza – as a young man)
Was a great character actor, who starred in both film and TV, he was everywhere. You’d almost have to go out of your way NOT to see his work somewhere. Unfortunately his career was cut way too short after he passed away from Leukemia a few years back.
And while it’s almost unfair to include people that only did The Godfather III, the curse seems to be attached to them as well. Here’s a few cases.
Andy Garcia (Vincent Mancini)
At one point, Andy Garcia was considered to be THE NEXT BIG THING in Hollywood. His roles in films such as Black Rain, Internal Affairs and The Untoucheables seemed to suggest that he’d surely be a contender – but a lacklustre descent into B-films and direct to video productions seem to suggest otherwise. His last big masterpiece, appearing in the second of Steve Martin’s attempts to destroy the Pink Panther films.
Bridget Fonda (Grace Hamilton)
Another up-and-comer, who’s part in the movie unfortunately ended up mostly on the cutting-room floor. Looks like most of her screen time went to Sofia Coppola’s “performance” instead *gasp* She was good in a small part in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, and was offered the lead role in Ally McBeal (later given to Calista Flockhart) but turned it down to focus on her film career – which has ended up being a very bad decision since she hasn’t done anything of note since 2002.
And FINALLY.. the CURSED part of Mary Corleone…
The part was actually written for a young Julia Roberts, but she escaped the curse by dropping out due to scheduling conflicts. Madonna begged for the role also, but lost it because Coppola thought she was too old to play the part. Winona Ryder actually signed on for the part, but dropped out apparently because Johnny Depp broke off their engagement and she may have had a breakdown (allegedly). Winona who was another NEXT BIG THING with success in parts in movies like Heathers and Beetlejuice is sadly now more known for getting caught on video for shoplifting.
The one good thing to come out of the The CURSE of the Godfather is that it destroyed any chance of Sofia Coppola of ever acting in a film again. She ended up leaving acting to pursue directing, where she ended up putting together a masterpiece like Lost in Translation.