Click here to learn more about anamorphic widescreen!
Go to the Home Page
Go to The Rumor Mill
Go to Todd Doogan's weekly column
Go to the Reviews Page
Go to the Trivia Contest Page
Go to the Upcoming DVD Artwork Page
Go to the DVD FAQ & Article Archives
Go to our DVD Links Section
Go to the Home Theater Forum for great DVD discussion
Find out how to advertise on The Digital Bits

Site created 12/15/97.


reviews added: 10/9/01



The Godfather DVD Collection

reviews by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

The Godfather DVD Collection



The Godfather

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Godfather
1972 (2001) - Paramount

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/A/A+

Specs and Features:

175 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, custom gatefold/slipcase packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:36:32 in chapter 12), audio commentary by writer/director Francis Ford Coppola, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (23 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned



The Godfather, Part II

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Godfather, Part II
1974 (2001) - Paramount

Film Rating: A+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/A+

Specs and Features:

Disc One - Part One
126 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, custom gatefold/slipcase packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:05:32 in chapter 10), audio commentary by writer/director Francis Ford Coppola, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Disc Two - Part Two
74 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, custom gatefold/slipcase packaging, single-sided, single-layered, audio commentary by writer/director Francis Ford Coppola, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (14 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned




The Godfather, Part III

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Godfather, Part III
1990 (2001) - Paramount

Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/A+

Specs and Features:

170 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, custom gatefold/slipcase packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:23:10 in chapter 13), audio commentary by writer/director Francis Ford Coppola, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (25 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned






The Godfather - Bonus Materials

The Godfather - Bonus Materials

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A+

Specs and Features:

NR, custom gatefold/slipcase packaging, single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), Acclaim & Response Gallery (includes 1972 Academy Award acceptance speeches for The Godfather for Best Screenplay and Best Picture and 1974 Academy Award acceptance speeches for The Godfather, Part II for Best Director and Best Picture, plus Awards and Nominations listing and 1974 network TV introduction), Trailer Gallery (The Godfather, The Godfather, Part II: Academy Award Version and The Godfather, Part III), production and behind-the-scenes photo gallery, Rogue's Gallery (photos of "questionable characters"), The Family Tree (history of Corleone family), The Filmmakers (biographies), The Godfather: A Look Inside documentary, On Location with Dean Tavolarous, Francis Ford Coppola's Notebook featurette, Music of The Godfather featurette (includes audio excepts from meetings with Nino Rota and video interview with Carmine Coppola with comments by Francis Ford Coppola, plus a deleted scene and clips from the 1990 The Godfather, Part III scoring session), Puzo and Coppola on Screenwriting featurette, Gordon Willis on Cinematography featurette, storyboards for The Godfather, Part II, animated storyboards for The Godfather, Part III, The Godfather: Behind-the-Scenes 1971 production featurette, 34 deleted scenes with text introductions, Easter eggs (foreign language loop on set-up menu and The Sopranos clip at end of DVD Credits), film-themed menu screens with audio clips, languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles (English and French), Closed Captioned


Ah... the sins of the father. They're pretty hard to escape, ain't they? Some of us spend our entire lives running from worlds we never created and have no control over. But as much as the rest of us have it hard, none of us have anything over Michael Corleone. Poor kid never had a chance. The Godfather Trilogy tells the story of Michael and his family. And Paramount has done a great service to film and DVD fans everywhere, by releasing this most sacred of film trilogies onto the format we all love. So without further ado, let's take a look at the family and the films...

The Godfather

"That's my family, Kay. It's not me."

Here's where it all begins, at least as an institution (even if it doesn't start storywise here). In the 1940s, Don Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando) rules organized crime with an iron fist. But rather than exploring the mechanics of his regime, we uncover the true heart of his world - his family. There's Sonny (James Caan), the hotheaded Don-in-training, his younger brother Fredo (John Cazale), a slow-witted go-to guy with a heart as big as his sad eyes, the baby brother Michael (Al Pacino), a returning war hero who wants only to go back to college, and their little sister Connie (Talia Shire), whose marriage to a family foot-soldier is the reason the we have gathered together. A grand wedding is the setting, and as the tradition goes, no man can refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day. When you're a Don, the request line can stretch around the block. The story slowly unfolds from here, when a small time connection from another family comes to the Corleone's for their blessing and investment in the drug trade. Don Vito doesn't want any part of it, even if Sonny initially thinks it's a good idea. But when their father is shot down in the middle of a market, the rest of the family goes after their enemy and young Michael, who never wanted to be involved in the family business, is thrown front and center into the fray with one calculated move that will affect the rest of his life.

This is epic filmmaking at its best. The Godfather is a three-hour film that grabs you with believable and tangible characters. The story is ripe with psychology and emotion and the art behind the scenes is enthralling. The Godfather will always be at the top of many people's favorite film lists. And you know what? It gets even better the next time around.

The Godfather, Part II

"Michael, your father loves you very much."

Seven years have past since the ending of the first film. As we saw in the closing moments, Michael is now the undisputed Don of the family and his intention is to not only protect his family and their fortunes, but to legitimatize the family and its functions as well. When we begin here, Don Michael has moved away from their New York stronghold and set up shop on Lake Tahoe, where he is pushing into the gambling arena. Finding it more difficult, but possible with the right tactics, to control politicians, Michael pushes for control over several casinos in Vegas. At the same time, he's setting up shop in Cuba. But realizing the political climate there is a bit off-center, he wants to pull out... which makes a quick enemy of an age old friend. And all the while this story is unfolding, we cut back and forth to the rise of young Vito Corleone (played by Robert De Niro) from a young boy in Corleone, Sicily to the golden streets of New York City. Young Vito goes from delivery boy to head of a crime syndicate with a few well thought out, but very bloody, moves.

Coppola shines as a director here, jumping back and forth between parallel stories that not only further the mood and tone from the first film, but also show us the link between father and son. And not only does the film extend the ideas presented in original, it also goes back and fills in some gaps. For many fans of The Godfather Trilogy, this is the better film. And structurally, it really is. But the two films really are one and the same, a point proven by previous releases of the whole story, edited together as The Godfather Saga for television and videocassette.

The Godfather, Part III

"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!"

It's now eight years later, and Don Michael has followed through with his plan to make the family a noble operation - at least in spirit (politics and business are both dirty, but we put up with the dirt). Don Michael is the head of a very legitimate business and takes over a company led by the Vatican. But some of the other families aren't exactly happy with the way the Corleone family has treated them in the past or the new direction it's going. So when a small timer gets too big for his britches and starts flexing his arm, all the other families side with the hood, leaving Michael in a lurch. Now, he has to protect his real family from the problems hiding in the shadows. And the irony is, while protecting his family, he's destroyed it - something which becomes shockingly clear at the end of the film for Michael.

A lot of people don't like The Godfather, Part III, and I have to admit that this isn't where I would have liked to see the Corleone story go. The acting in the film is all good (even the non-actor parts like Sophia Coppola, who stepped in at the last minute for an "ailing" Winona Ryder). But The Godfather, Part III doesn't have the same force behind it the other films had. It's a good film, but not great.

At long last, all three films have been pulled together for a really great special edition DVD box set from Paramount. You get five discs for three films, all of them winners.

The video quality of all three films is fine. I wasn't blown away, but I think that, given the notoriety of the films' condition, you have to be mildly impressed that they're on DVD looking as good as they do. The transfers are a bit on the dark side and might require some system tweaking to get the picture right. There aren't any artifacts or digital compression issues though, and a lot of dust specs, tears and odd splices that could have riddled the picture have been cleaned up. The first film is good, the second film is better and the third film is about the same. But if they aren't reference quality, I certainly think this could possibly be the best we'll ever see these films looking in our homes.

The sound, however, is stellar. Each film has been remastered under Coppola's supervision in Dolby Digital 5.1. And the 5.1 sound rocks as far as I'm concerned. The music is there, the tone and dialogue are there... there's even some fun play in the surrounds. This was never an audiophile's film series, but it certainly sounds better than it ever has before.

As for extras, each film disc features a director's audio commentary track that blows any commentary I've heard before this away. Coppola walks us through his world with so much personality and clarity, that when I was done with all nine hours of it (in one sitting), I felt like I knew the guy personally. And I wish I did. I gained so much respect for Coppola as an artist, that I don't think I could ever slam one of his films again. He's a true artist and his humility and vision show that. Coppola talks on these tracks about his collaborations with various actors, writers and craftsmen, he discusses the parallels between the films and his own family, and even his future film projects. These tracks should be mandatory listening for all film fans, students and professionals.

For my DVD money, I would have been happy with just the commentary tracks. But Paramount goes one better and gives us an additional dual-layered disc that's packed with nothing but extras. Disc Five (for the record, Disc One is the first film, Discs Two and Three are the second film, Disc Four is the third film) features the incredible documentary The Godfather: A Look Inside. It's sort of legendary in my small circle of friends. Once a year, we gather around and watch a bad video dub of this thing and eat spaghetti, reciting quotes from the doc as they pop up. Now we get it in much better quality. It features lots of interviews, along with behind-the-scenes footage and clips. It's a great piece. Moving on from there, the disc is broken up into different areas. The first we'll explore is the Acclaim & Response Gallery. Here you'll find acceptance speeches for both the 1972 and 1974 Academy Awards. Two for each, they feature Best Screenplay and Best Picture for The Godfather in '72 and Best Director and Best Picture for The Godfather, Part II in '74. It's interesting to see some of our favorite stars close to thirty years ago and also to see how short the speeches were. In this area, you'll also find an Awards and Nominations listing (which is just what it sounds like) and the 1974 Network TV Introduction featuring Coppola at work editing Part II and pleading with audiences not to find ill-will in his portrayal of violence and Italian Americans in the film.

The Trailer Gallery collects three trailers: The Godfather, the Academy Award version of The Godfather, Part II and The Godfather, Part III. The picture quality varies for each. It was interesting to see the idea behind the first trailer, which is a stills progression of events in the film, with major plot points given away for sheer impact. Apparently, it's not a recent thing that trailers ruin movies for us. But I guess if you've already read the book.... Also on the disc are several photo galleries. There's one of production and behind-the-scenes photos and a Rogue's Gallery with photos of all the thugs and conspirators in the film. A navigable The Family Tree takes us through the history and major players of Corleone family, with biographies of the characters and photos of the actors playing them. The Filmmakers section is a nicely drawn biography of the major artisans who worked on the film. The On Location section features Dean Tavoularis walking us through the original locations used in the filming, along with archive footage of the neighborhoods. It's pretty cool actually. One of the more fascinating extras (for future filmmakers at least) is the Francis Ford Coppola's Notebook featurette, where Coppola shows off the original notebook that he used to find the right tone, story and method for shooting the film. His ideas are all there in blue pen notes on the margins. The Music of The Godfather section is broken into two parts. One includes audio excepts from meetings between Coppola and composer Nino Rota and the other is a section devoted to Carmine Coppola. The latter features a short video interview with Carmine, along with comments by Francis Ford Coppola and clips from the 1990 The Godfather, Part III scoring session.

Oh... but we're not done yet. Continuing on, we have a short featurette entitled Puzo and Coppola on Screenwriting, which is just that (along with a closing of Puzo essentially pitching a fourth Godfather that would have focused on the rise of Sonny. Hmmmm). There's the Gordon Willis on Cinematography featurette that has Willis explaining his methods and his madness. You'll also find storyboards for The Godfather, Part II and some very cool animated storyboards for The Godfather, Part III, along with an archived The Godfather Behind-the-Scenes 1971 production featurette. Last, but not least, are 34 (yes... 34) deleted scenes with text introductions. These are what made up the various television and Saga edits and help strengthen the mythos and pathos of the film. They are presented full frame, probably to prevent fans from creating a bootleg Saga set, which has yet to appear on DVD. One can hope. Oh... and for those looking, you'll find a few Easter eggs scattered hither and yon, which include a foreign language loop on the set-up menu and a very relevant and humorous clip from The Sopranos at end of the DVD credits. The disc also has an unadvertised feature. Every so often, you will be treated to an audio clip (taken from Coppola's own tape recorder) of cast and crew discussing the script, or of Puzo and Coppola unraveling an important sequence. It's pretty neat. The extras on this disc are all presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, with English and French subtitles. Most of it is also Closed Captioned for the hearing impaired.

It's been a LONG wait... but the entire Godfather series is finally on DVD. Is it worth the $99.95 SRP? I think it is. Each of the films comes in a thin cardboard and plastic package (much like Se7en or Boogie Nights), which all fit snugly together in a protective slipcase. Many will probably complain that the individual films are not in keep cases, but I don't have a problem with it. The bottom line is this: if you claim to be any kind of serious fan of film, having The Godfather Trilogy in your video collection on DVD is an offer you simply can't refuse.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


The Godfather DVD Collection


E-mail the Bits!


Don't #!@$ with the Monkey! Site designed for 800 x 600 resolution, using 16M colors and .gif 89a animation.
© 1997-2002 The Digital Bits, Inc., All Rights Reserved.
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com