The Godfather Saga (1977)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Gangster Film, Ensemble Film  |   Release Date - Nov 1, 1977 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 434 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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In the midst of the troubled Apocalypse Now production, Francis Ford Coppola delivered this extended TV version of his Godfather saga. Edited by Barry Malkin, the "Complete Novel for Television" combined The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974) into one chronological story, with Part II's sequences featuring Robert De Niro as young Vito Corleone preceding Part I, followed by Michael Corleone's Part II downfall. Shown over four nights, The Godfather Saga also contained footage missing from theatrical prints, including Vito's revenge on Don Ciccio's henchmen and further explanation of why movie producer Woltz awakes with a horse's head. Despite the films' popularity, the TV saga did not quite live up to ratings expectations; neither Gordon Willis's expressively murky cinematography nor Part II's subtitles translated well to the small screen. While the exquisite acting and period detail remained intact, along with Coppola's incisive examination of family and the mythic American Dream, Part II's critical sting was diminished by the loss of the counterpoint between Vito's rise and Michael's fall. Even so, The Godfather Saga testified to the original films' achievements and confirmed their vital place in American popular culture.