FILMnReturnsnby David R. SlavittnThe Godfather Part IIInProduced by Francis Ford CoppolanWritten by Mario Puzo andnMr. CoppolanDirected by Mr. CoppolanReleased by Paramount PicturesnAwakeningsnProduced by Walter F. Parkes andnLawrence LaskernWritten by Steven ZailliannDirected by Penny MarshallnReleased by Columbia PicturesnAhcenProduced by Robert GreenhutnWritten and directed bynWoody AllennReleased by Orion PicturesnThe return of Francis Ford Coppolanto the Godfather epic was cleariynthe movie event of 1990. The first twonparts of the Godfather series had bothnwon Oscars (Best Picture), and therenwas so much pressure — or skepticismn— about the likelihood of a third filmnmaintaining their extraordinarily highnlevel that the critics wound up beingnkindly in their treatment. In a bizarrenway, Coppola had become an underdognfor whom it was impossible not to root.nThere was also the possibility that innocentnmovie-going was still alive and thatnsome of these critics, remembering theneariier pictures and their easy zest, justnwanted to have a good time.nCoppola seems to have understoodnthis and exploited it. Godfather Part IIInis frankly nostalgic, full of referencesnand clips of the eariier movies, whichnare not mere embellishments butnstructural elements. He seems to benencouraging the audience to join MichaelnCorleone in a sentimental wallow.nAl Pacino is not only respectablennow but enfeebled, the ravages of eightnyears having taken a greater toll on himnthan on such other continuing playersnas Diane Keaton or Talia Shire. Henseems less dangerous, devious perhapsnbut mostly benign. Menace is left tonthe likes of Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna),nan ambitious younger hoodlum, ornto Michael Corleone’s nephew —nSonny’s illegitimate son — VincentnMancini (Andy Garcia). The real plotnof the film is the way in which Vincentnbecomes Michael’s surrogate son andnthe heir to the enterprise, while itsntheme is Michael’s frustration as hentries to become legitimate and respectable.n”The higher you go, thencrookeder it gets,” he says.nIt’s an uneven film, shorter than thentwo earlier parts, but draggier andnfuzzy in some of its details. The opening,nin which Michael Corieone isnawarded the Order of San Sebastian, isnstately and handsome: Gordon Willisnis still running the cameras and hasnbecome ever more painterly, which isnnot always a good thing, especiallynduring some of the boring sections innthe middle — we’re not supposed to benso aware of how pretty these shots are.nBut the last half hour or so, corny,nextravagant, and frankly operatic, is justnfine, an elegant invocation of the realnartistic and intellectual tradition innwhich Coppola is working — the grandngestures of opera stages serve mostly tonmake palatable a shallow if not absolutelynstupid set of notions about life,nlove, death, and honor. Corleone hasnat last come home, not only to Sicilynbut to the opera house in Palermo,nwhere his son, Anthony (Franc D’Ambrosio),nis singing Turiddu in CavellerianRusticana. Concerts and operasnhave their decorum, as Hitchcock sonelegantly demonstrated in several films,nand the violence of an assassin lurkingnin the audience and training his sightsnupon his victim seems even morenshocking than it would in almost anynother setting. Coppola is invoking thenbaptism sequence of the first film andnall but matching it—in a wonderfullynnngood-humored romp that is similariynspectacular (in the sense of eye-glasses).nLess good-humored was the newsnthat on an opening day showing innValley Stream, Long Island, there werenarguments among the audience, onengroup of ruffians making noise andnanother making almost as much of andisturbance with their shushing. Gunsnwere drawn, bullets fired, and fournpeople were hit, all of them innocentnbystanders. One fifteen-year-old boynwas killed. There are a variety ofnpossible readings of this debacle —nmine being that the structure of thenmovie is perhaps too sophisticated fornthe mass audience for which it wasnintended, at least by the Paramountnexecutives. Coppola’s attitude towardnthese films has been ambivalent, andnhe is said to prefer his other, moren”serious” and certainly less successfulnwork. The Paramount people werencleariy correct, however, to make himnan offer he couldn’t refuse (this linendoes not occur in Godfather Part III),nfor the first day’s receipts of somethingnmore than six million dollars broke allnprevious one-day records. Nevertheless,nsome of the audiences are —nobviously—restless. The violence innValley Stream came after the sequencenin which Joey Zasa’s people massacre anwhole slew of Mafiosi in a rooftopnrestaurant in Atlantic City—a lively ifnsomewhat mannerist demonstration ofncarnage that woke up the thugs iri thenaudience. But then, after a few minutes,nwhen the delight of this bloodshednwas not repeated — ArnoldnSchwarzenegger knows exactly hownmany seconds may be allowed to passnbetween sprayings of red stuff acrossnthe screen — they made up the perceivedndeficiency themselves. In suchncircumstances, for Michael Corieonento be sickened, tired, and evenndisgusted . . . seems quite correct.nFor Immediate ServicenChroniclesnNEW SUBSCRIBERSnTOLL FREE NUMBERn1-800-435-0715nAPRIL 1991/49n