The Godfather

“The Godfather Trilogy” which consists of “The Godfather” (1972), “The Godfather: Part II” (1974), and “The Godfather: Part III” (1990), is arguably the greatest film trilogy of all time, and “The Godfather” DVD Collection includes all three films. Also, the DVD Collection provides audio commentary tracks by director-cowriter Francis Ford Coppola for all three films. The three movies take up four DVDs, and the Collection has a fifth DVD that contains bonus materials. I love all three movies, and I think “The Godfather” DVD Collection is absolutely terrific.

“The Godfather” takes place in 1945-55 and chronicles the last years of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), who heads up a Mafia organization in New York City. Before he dies, Vito transfers his power to his calculating son Michael (Al Pacino). About a fourth of “The Godfather: Part II” recounts how Vito (played as a young adult by Robert De Niro) came to New York from Sicily in 1901 and gradually built the Corleone family crime business from scratch. But the main story in “The Godfather: Part II” tells how Michael relocates the family to Nevada and runs casinos in 1958-59. As “The Godfather: Part III” opens in 1979, a much older Michael seeks redemption by donating some of his ill-gotten wealth to charity, but in doing so he runs afoul of another Mafia chieftain. When Michael’s health begins to fail, he turns the Corleone family business over to his nephew Vincent (Andy Garcia).

The DVD features audio commentary by director-cowriter Francis Ford Coppola for all three movies in the trilogy, totaling nearly nine hours of commentary. Coppola reveals that in “The Godfather” the severed horse’s head was real — they got it from a dog food factory. Also, Coppola claims he narrowly avoided being fired in the first few weeks of production because the Paramount execs didn’t like his work. He says things went smoothly on “The Godfather: Part II,” but years later he got in big financial trouble when he made the box-office bomb “One from the Heart” — which I loved — so he reluctantly agreed to do “The Godfather: Part III” for Paramount. Also, Coppola talks a lot about the negative press over casting his then 19-year-old daughter Sofia in a major role. I find her performance substandard, but she’s not so terrible as to ruin the movie.

“The Godfather” is on one DVD, “The Godfather: Part II” takes up two DVDs, and “The Godfather: Part III” is on a single DVD. The fifth DVD in the Collection contains a rich selection of special features. There are 34 (!) additional scenes, including an alternate opening to “The Godfather: Part III.” The “Behind the Scenes” option includes such things as the cast and crew reminiscing, Coppola describing how he worked from an annotated copy of Mario Puzo’s novel, the music of Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola (Francis’ father), Coppola and Puzo on screenwriting, Gordon Willis on cinematography, and storyboards.

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