Film and Plot Synopsis
The Godfather: Part III takes place in the year 1979 roughly 22 years since the events of The Godfather II. Michael Corleone is now a legitimate business man with his old criminal enterprises under Joey Zasa’s control. Approaching 60, Michael thinks about his legacy and his regrets.
His daughter Mary runs his charity, and it just donated over $100 million to the Catholic Church. Michael also intends buying a large stake in International Immobiliari which is a Vatican-run property company. Things seems to be going along at Michael wants, but then the hot-headed Vincent Mancini, Sonny Corleone’s illegitimate son, starts a feud with Joey Zasa. This has deadly consequences for everyone, and threatens Michael’s deal with the Vatican.
‘The Godfather: Part III’ Movie Summary
We find Michael still carries tremendous guilt over ordering the death of his own brother, Fredo (John Cazale). Additionally, Michael’s second wife, Kay (Diane Keaton), has divorced him, and his now adult children, Anthony (Franc D’Ambrosio) and Mary (Sofia Coppola) rarely see him. Anthony wants to leave law school to become a singer of all things—not anything that makes money, mind you, but as a legitimate opera singer. Mary is a naive young girl who simply wants to have sex with her first cousin, Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia).
Vincent is the bastard son of Sonny Corleone and his side piece of his that he banged against a bedroom door during Connie’s wedding in the first Godfather movie. He’s a chip off the old block with a temper that matches Sonny’s. Vincent works for, and gets sideways with, Joey Zasa. They have a problem with each other that Michael soon has to involve himself in. Michael takes Vincent under his wing in order to protect his young illegitimate nephew from Zasa and himself.
Just when he thought he was out, they pull him back in!
Michael attempts to legitimize the Corleone family name with the control of an international real estate company Internazionale Immobiliare. Michael leans on Archbishop Gilday (Donal Donnelly), the head of the Vatican Bank. He offers the desperate banker $600 million to cover up the massive deficit that the banker has secretly accumulated. Immobiliare’s board agrees to the offer, but the Pope, who has suddenly turned ill, still needs to ratify the deal.
While this is going on, Michael has to deal with his Mafia brothers’ drama. They do not like the fact that Michael is leaving them without giving them some of the vast monies he’s about to see in his Vatican deal. Don Altobello (Eli Wallach), a Tuco-like Mafia boss and Connie’s godfather, visits Michael. There he passively whines to him that his old partners on the Mafia Commission want in on the deal. Michael calls a meeting of the Commission, and tells them as politely as he can, to go pound sand.
During the meeting, a helicopter hovers overhead as soon as Zasa and Altobello are out of the room. It opens fire on the remaining Dons. Michael, his bodyguard, Al Neri (Richard Bright), and Vincent narrowly escape. The remaining Dons who survive the massacre make a deal with Zasa, but Michael does not believe that Zasa has the brains or the balls to carry out such an elaborate hit. However, Michael suffers a diabetic stroke before he can uncover the identity of the big bad in this film.
While Michael recovers, Vincent takes Mary to pound town before taking out Zasa during a Little Italy street parade. When Michael regains consciousness, he berates Vincent for his actions knowing that Altobello ordered the hit.
Welcome back to Palermo
The film then jumps ahead a few months where the entire Corleone family travels to Sicily for Anthony’s operatic debut in Palermo. While there, Michael convinces Vincent to approach Altobello, and pretend to betray Michael in order to find out how high the plot goes. Altobello introduces Vincent to Don Lucchesi (Enzo Robutti), a powerful Italian political figure and Immobiliare’s chairman.
Michael learns the entire Immobiliare deal is an elaborate swindle, that Lucchesi concocted with Archbishop Gilday, and Vatican accountant Frederick Keinszig (Helmut Berger). Michael visits Cardinal Lamberto (Raf Vallone) who is favored to become the next Pope, to discuss the deal. When Michael suffers another diabetic attack, Lamberto gives him some candy which persuades Michael to make his first confession in 30 years. He tearfully confesses to ordering Fredo’s murder. Lamberto says Michael deserves to suffer, but he can still redeem himself, and confess to his sins.
As this goes on, Altobello hires Mosca (Mario Donatone), a veteran hitman, to assassinate Michael. Mosca and his son, disguised as priests, kill Don Tommasino (Vittorio Duse) as he returns to his villa. Michael receives word of Tommasino’s death, and at the funeral vows never to sin again.
Vincent tells Michael that Altobello is plotting to have Mosca assassinate Michael. Michael sees that his nephew has changed, and he names Vincent the new Don of the Corleone family. He even gets to have the Corleone name. However, Vincent’s rise to power has one price, the new Don will need to give up his relationship with Mary. Without hesitation, Vincent dumps her. After the Pope dies, Cardinal Lamberto becomes Pope John Paul I. Unfortunately for Michael, the plotters against the ratification need to kill him to cover their tracks.
A Night at the Opera
While the family watches Anthony’s performance in Palermo, the Corleone family sends out their hitmen to settle all family business. They smother Keinszig to death, and hang him from a bridge. Altobello eats a poisoned cannoli Connie gave him at the opera. Al Neri travels to the Vatican, and he shoots the Archbishop Gilday. Finally, Calo (Franco Citti), Tommasino’s former bodyguard, finds Lucchesi in his office. Calo stabs him in the neck with a pair of glasses right before Lucchesi’s bodyguard kills Calo. All of this is set to the tune of Anthony’s operatic voice.
After he approves the Immobiliare deal, mystery men serve the Pope poisoned tea on the orders of the recently deceased Archbishop Gilday. He dies soon afterward. Mosca attempts to kill Michael outside the opera house, but unintentionally kills Mary. Vincent immediately shoots the fly, dead. Michael silently screams in grief on the steps of the operahouse.
The film ends with a much older Michael sitting alone in the garden of Don Tommasino’s villa. The elderly Don suddenly slumps over in his chair, falling to the ground. So ends one of the most memorable characters to ever grace the silver screen.
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