19 March 2011 | MartinHafer
Far from perfect but well worth seeing.
This film concerning the making of the Godfather films coincided with the release of the disastrous "The Godfather: Part III"--a film hated by many fans and critics (oddly, I thought it was pretty good). It begins, naturally, discussing the first movie in the series and, not surprisingly because of when it was made, a huge emphasis was made on the final film. Much of the film consisted of interviews though many clips from the movies were interspersed into the production. My feeling is that the earlier portion of the making of documentary was the best and most interesting because the film makers were not trying to sell these films--they were considered classics. However, later in the film, it bogs down a bit because instead of just trying to explain the films, they are pushing it in hopes that the viewer will be induced to watch "The Godfather: Part III". In essence, here it was a bit too self-congratulatory (and, in hindsight, prematurely so).
Of the many things in this lengthy documentary, the things that stood out for me were the 'what might have been' moments. I had no idea that Al Pacino's part in the movies was so tenuous--that the studio pushed Francis Ford Coppola to drop him from the film, as Pacino was an unknown at the time. Seeing James Caan and Martin Sheen also being tested for the role fascinating. Also, seeing Robert Di Nero trying out for the role of Sonny (he later played a Vito in "The Godfather II"). And, finally, hearing how Coppola himself was CONSTANTLY on the proverbial hot-seat--as Paramount even had a second director on hand during much of the film in case they'd have to replace him! And, how the stud pushed him to make "The Godfather" MORE violent!! Wow.
Now there are some negatives. I really would have loved more background to the films and was surprised that there was no mention of the very premature death of John Cazale ('Fredo'). More 'tidbits'--that would have improved this film--as well as a bit less on trying to push the third film. Still, for fans of the series, this is definitely a must-see.