The first and second installments in the Godfather series were unique in that they were made by essentially the same crew with the same cast and filmed just a couple years apart in the early 1970s. They had a very similar look and feel, making the second movie seem like a true continuation of the first, which makes even more sense when you realize the events in both films were covered in the novel “The Godfather” by Mario Puzo, and were only broken up to avoid having a six-hour movie.
However, The Godfather Part III was made decades later in 1990, and has a distinctly different flavor from the first two films. Many cite this film as the “lousy” Godfather movie, while others try to find some aspects, in retrospect, that make it redeemable. In fact, it would probably be a great mob movie, if it didn’t have to live up to the first two films.
Michaels’ odd spiked hair and round tinted glasses aside, some point to the wooden performance from Francis Ford Coppola’s daughter, Sophia, as Part III’s biggest downfall—she would go on to be an incredibly talented writer and director, she just wasn’t that great an actor as a teen, especially when sharing the screen with the likes of Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, and a young Andy Garcia. It drags down about half the film—but, despite how you feel about it, this third installment is worth a re-watch in the 21st century.
Assassination Attempt on Vincent
Beretta Cheetah / Walther PP
When two assassins are sent to Vincent Mancini’s (Andy Garcia) home, they take Grace Hamilton (Bridget Fonda) hostage when Vincent disarms the first guy through the door, pulls a Beretta Cheetah and puts it to the second gunman’s head. In a surprisingly chilling scene, Vincent gently talks to the man holding Grace, telling him to pay attention to what he does next. He then nonchalantly puts a bullet through his partner’s head.
The assassin who is still alive, and who was already shaky, is immediately unnerved and lets go of both Grace and his knife. Vincent tells him to have a cigarette and interrogates him for a while to find out they were sent to kill him by Joey Zasa, a gangster who has taken over the old Corleone territories in New York City. Vincent technically works for Zasa, and, let’s just say, they don’t get along—especially after Vincent takes a bite out of Zasa’s ear in Michael’s office. Then Vincent unceremoniously shoots the second assassin.
In the photo above, we see the animatronic head that was used for the quick and brutal headshot special effect. Frankly, I never noticed this was a fake head until I saw the movie on Blu Ray and paused it. Oddly enough, for this close-up shot, Vincent’s Beretta Cheetah becomes a Walther PP in a continuity error.
Vincent is actually Sonny Corleone’s illegitimate son, born from the affair he is shown having with one of Connie’s bridesmaids in the first film.
Atlantic City Helicopter Assassination
During the brutal assassination of mob leaders in Atlantic City by a man in a helicopter with a machine gun, we see Michael’s long-time protector, Al Neri (Richard Bright), uses a double-barreled exposed hammer shotgun to blast open doors that have been locked with handcuffs locked to the handles on the other side. Michael is one of the few, if not the only mob leader to escape the room alive, though he suffers a debilitating stroke soon after.
From the quick closeups, we see that the helicopter assassin sent by Joey Zasa (Joe Montegna) uses an IMI Uzi submachine gun in full auto to spray the room. By the effects the machine gun fire has on the room and its inhabitants, it seems like the shooter should have been using something a bit more substantial than a 9mm submachine gun.
Joey Zasa Hit
Smith & Wesson Model 10HB
As Michael recovers from his stroke after the devastating assassination attempt in Atlantic City, Vincent and Michael’s sister, Connie (Talia Shire), unofficially assume control of the family’s business. They both decide that Zasa can’t be allowed to get away with the AC attack without reprecussions.
During a street festival in New York, echoing scenes from Part II, several Corleone gunmen attack Zasa and his men, forcing the antagonist to flee until he finds himself alone and confronted by Vincent, who is dressed as an NYPD officer on horseback. Vincent Mancini shoots and kills Smith & Wesson Model 10HB after yelling his name to get his attention.
During the Zasa assassination, one of Vincent’s men is costumed as one of the hooded figures carrying a holy statue on a litter in the street fair (no, that’s not a KKK outfit). When the shooting starts, he pulls a double-barreled 12 gauge shotgun from beneath his robes, letting go of the litter and allowing the statue to fall to the ground.
One of Vincent’s other hitman, this one not in a costume but rather a super-1980’s looking leather jacket with the sleeves pushed up. He pulls something more substantial than the others, a MAC-10 submachine gun, which he uses to take out one of Joey Zasa’s men.
Al Nieri’s Walther PP
Later in the film, Al Neri hides a Walther PP pistol hidden between layers of cookies in a box. He takes the box with him on the train to kill the corrupt Archbishop Gilday. It’s not clear if this is the same Walther used earlier during the continuity error at Vicent’s house.
Opera House Assassination Attempt
Carcano M38 Carbine
Mosca (Mario Donatone), the vicious Sicilian hitman who works with his son, is seen loading a bolt-action Carcano M38 Calvary Carbine with a scope, but he never gets to actually use it after stashing it in the opera house during the film’s final act.
In a close-up, we see Mosca load a round into the rifle, which appears to be a 7.35x51mm cartridge instead of the more common 6.5x52mm.
When Mosca is forced to abandon his plan to use the rifle to kill Michael, he goes to his sidearm on the steps outside of the opera while dressed as a priest, which is a Browning Hi-Power in 9mm.
The gun looks tiny in the killer’s beefy hands, but its certainly a Hi-Power, as we can tell from the close-up before he fires two shots, one that hits Michael in the arm, and another that misses its target, but hits Mary square in the chest, killing her on the steps. After he fires, Mosca is grabbed by the crowd and quickly shot by Vincent.
One of the Sicilian assassin twins, Armand (Rogerio Miranda) and Francesco (Carlos Miranda), carries a Beretta 92SB-C, which we get a clear look at during the opera sequence.
Vincent’s Beretta Model 70
During the tragic events that unfold on the steps of the opera house, Vincent pulls a Beretta Model 70 and uses it to kill Mosca as he is being held by the crowd after wounding Michael and killing Mary before Michael lets out that unforgettable scream and presumably has another stroke. The final scene of the film is an extraordinarily sad shot of an aged, stooped Michael Corleone, alone, sitting in a yard that looks to be in Sicily. The scene is very reminiscent of the final shot in Part II, but this time, it ends with Michael slumping over and falling dead from his chair.
Cue the trumpet….