FROM HORSE’S HEAD TO HORSE’S ASS
by Andrew Collins
1. Coppola did it for the cash: Paramount offered him $5 million and 15 per cent of the gross. “It’s not just something I’m doing because I want to make a lot of money…” he insisted, unconvincingly.
2. No Robert Duvall: Paramount offered him about a fifth of Pacino’s $5 million. He demanded $3.5; they wrote Tom Hagen out of the script. (That George Hamilton took the role of “adviser” B.J. Harrison says it all.)
3. Sofia Coppola: Brought in when Winona Ryder had a nervous collapse, her lack of acting experience caused many a raised eyebrow on set. One member of production staff said, “She has this teeny little voice like a girl, Francis has fucked the love story.” Even her auntie, Talia Shire, had doubts.
4. The red cardigan: In an attempt to suggest old age, Michael wears a horrible crimson cardy.
5. It’s a copy: In an attempt to infuse the film with its forefathers’ greatness, it resounds with visual and thematic echoes: a religious ceremony to open; a large family occasion with group photograph; a bit where a large cake is ceremonially cut; Michael has saved the drawing given to him in Part II by little Anthony, and gets it out to show him; they even go back to Palermo in Sicily.
6. It’s got opera in it: The running-around, up-and-downstairs, opera-set climax is like a Marx Brothers farce.
7. Rolling the little bread things: The courtship of Mary and Vincent is, at best, limp. When he climactically shows her how to make the “little bread things” by holding her hand — “I love you”, “I love you” — the audience shrugs.
8. What is all that Pope stuff?: Part III is steeped in religious themes, to the point where a reflective Michael is encouraged to confess his sins but simply doesn’t have the time. Parts I and II got by with a little poignant Catholic symbolism, Part III is like Praise Be with Thora Hird.
9. Hail Mary: Early on, Talia Shire asks a guest to hail Mary. Good joke.
10. It’s boring: God, it’s boring.
Source: Empire n.86, August 1996