Andy Garcia as Vincent Mancini, hotheaded mob enforcer
New York City, Spring 1979
Film: The Godfather Part III
Release Date: December 25, 1990
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Milena Canonero
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Speed 2: Cruise Control.
Jaws 4: The Revenge.
The Godfather, Part III.
Francis Ford Coppola’s conclusion to the saga of the Corleone family may not be as bad as its fellow reviled franchise continuations, but it was certainly among the more disappointing given the quality and prestige of The Godfather‘s first two installments. Coppola sought to rectify its reputation with Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, a recut and restructured version released this month to coincide with the 30th anniversary of The Godfather, Part III‘s original theatrical release. The limited theatrical run of Coda began on Friday, December 4, and will be scheduled to release to streaming services and home video on Tuesday, December 8.
“In musical term, a coda is sort of like an epilogue, a summing up, and that’s what we intended the movie to be,” explained Coppola. “You’ll see a film which has a different beginning and ending, many scenes throughout have been repositioned, and the picture has been given, I think, a new life.” Coppola and others from the original production—including an effusive Diane Keaton, an introspective Andy Garcia, and an albeit more cautious Al Pacino—have shared that Coda vindicates Coppola and Puzo’s original vision for the third film, restructuring the narrative, shifting the focus, and even lending credibility to Sofia Coppola’s much-criticized performance as Mary, Michael Corleone’s daughter.
Despite its notorious reputation, the original cut of The Godfather, Part III does have its champions, including Siskel and Ebert, Leonard Maltin, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who went so far as to nominate it for seven Oscars including Best Picture. (Given that this was the same year that Dances with Wolves won over Goodfellas, it could be argued that there was something fishy in the Academy’s water that year.)
“It can’t be as rough as everyone says it is, right?” I had tried to assure myself before the first time I watched The Godfather, Part III. After all, I’d heard arguments that it was a misunderstood masterpiece or that it would would fare better as a standalone film once out from the shadow of its acclaimed forebears. I tried to be be open-minded but, even upon subsequent rewatches, The Godfather, Part III never feels like anything greater than prestigious fanfic and certainly not a deserving conclusion to one of the most masterfully presented sagas in American cinema.
One of my favorite parts of The Godfather, Part III is Andy Garcia’s Oscar-nominated performance as Vincent Mancini, Sonny Corleone’s illegitimate son who had been retconned into existence after reviewing Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel proves that Lucy Mancini could not have conceived Sonny’s child in the original canon. Still, Garcia delivers on creating a complex character that fulfills Coppola’s stated vision of presenting the signature traits of all five Corleone men: Sonny’s temper, Michael’s ruthlessness, Vito’s cunning, Fredo’s sensitivity, and Tom Hagen’s courageous loyalty.
Granted, I take some issues with believing that a shrewd, cautious leader like Michael would so swiftly bring his hotheaded nephew under his wing—especially just moments after Vincent pulls a Mike Tyson on one of Michael’s most dangerous potential enemies right in his office!—but The Godfather, Part III wouldn’t be what it is without plot absurdities that require the viewer to suspend their disbelief… not only that such a plot would be feasible but also that it came from the minds who delivered the first two films in the canon.
As with its predecessors, The Godfather, Part III begins with a Corleone family celebration, this time in honor of a sexagenarian Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) being named a Commander of the Order of Saint Sebastian for his charitable contributions to the Catholic Church. Vincent crashes the party but is received in open arms by his family, particularly his first cousin Mary. Connie (Talia Shire), Vincent’s strongest advocate and now arguably in much more of a leadership role than we saw in the previous two parts, brokers an opportunity for Vincent to meet with Michael to settle a conflict with Joey Zasa (Joe Mantegna), the smug but dapper don who reigns over the Corleone family’s criminal enterprises.
The meeting proves fortuitous for Vincent, as Mr. Joe Zasa comes away without part of his ear while Vincent’s gains are three-fold: a job opportunity with his powerful uncle, a warm welcome into the family (which Mary hopes to make even warmer), and a willing one night stand in the form of ambitious reporter Grace Hamilton (Bridget Fonda)… who would come to regret her decision when her flirtation with danger results in a knife held to her throat by one of Zasa’s thugs that broke into Vincent’s apartment to murder him.
“Overall, this version feels even more elegiac—a true coda instead of just another part of the same story,” writes Brian Tallerico in his thoughtful review for RogerEbert.com. “The truth is that the first two ‘Godfather’ movies tell a complete story. There’s no need for a third, and that’s why Coppola avoided making it for years, only succumbing to pressure from Paramount after a few notable financial failures in the ’80s… but if you’re someone who defended it or found yourself wondering if it was better than you remembered … well, it’s definitely better now.”
Similar to my first Part III viewing experiences, I’ll watch Coda with an open mind and hope that it lives up to the praise and its—as of this writing—100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, thus providing Michael Corleone with the ending he deserves… and Vincent Mancini with the beginning he deserves.
What’d He Wear?
“I wish you woulda warned me, Con, I woulda worn a better suit,” Vincent Mancini grumbles to his aunt after she promises him an audience with Michael. Indeed, Vincent’s leather-clad look doesn’t go unnoticed when he joins Michael and Joey Zasa, each tailored in their own double-breasted duds, in Michael’s office.
Vincent’s much-discussed jacket is a black leather sports coat with a single-breasted, two-button front. The lapels appear to have been designed with a peak lapel sensibility but with a deep, narrow notch in the “fish mouth” shape similar to the cran necker lapel. The jacket has wide shoulders, a welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, and four-button cuffs that appear to be finished with narrow “turnback” cuffs.
“Nice jacket,” comments Mary as Vincent sidles up next to her in the Corleone family picture. Grace evidently agrees, slipping it on later that night when she gets out of his bed to fetch him a glass of water… and bait the two henchmen waiting to kill her latest bedmate.
I concede that Vincent Mancini’s approach to dressing may be consistent with the late ’70s, but there’s something that feels off… as though his clothes weren’t actually made in the ’70s. This isn’t an issue I limit to Vincent’s wardrobe or even to the costumes as a whole, as The Godfather, Part III never seems to inhabit the world of 1979 as its two predecessors had in their respective eras.
Costume designer Milena Canonero, a four-time Academy Award winner and nine-time nominee, seems to favor dressing those in the Corleone orbit in more timeless fashions than the broad collars, lapels, ties, and more that were characteristic of disco-era extremes. Of course, there were some fashion-forward dressers in 1979 who were already embracing the slimmer-featured menswear that would come to define the following decade; one need look no further than Richard Gere, Armani-clad in American Gigolo, to know that. Still, the dearth of any of those key aspects of late ’70s menswear raises a suspicious eye.
You’d like Vincent Mancini, a young hothead at his least refined at the beginning of the story, would be dressed a little more in keeping with the times and trends; a wider shirt collar and tie blade here or more of a flared detail there. Instead, his clothes differ little from the styles and fabrics popular at the time of the film’s production a decade after it was set.
With his leather jacket, Vincent wears a silky burgundy shirt with a point collar, button cuffs, and a unique slim-welted pocket set-in against the left breast. His tie is printed with a bronze-and-gold paisley pattern, covered by black abstract streaks and set against a scarlet red ground.
Vincent wears black flat front trousers held up by a black leather belt with a silver-toned rectangular single-prong buckle. The bottoms appear to be plain-hemmed, breaking over his black shoes. If I’m not mistaken, his black calf leather shoes are cap-toe oxfords.
Vincent wears a gold wristwatch with a round off-white dial strapped to this left wrist on a dark brown textured leather strap.
Throughout The Godfather, Part III, Vincent wears the same array of gold jewelry, including a chain-link ID bracelet with “VINCENT” etched into the nameplate tag on his right wrist, a ring with a flat ovular surface on the third finger of his right hand, and a thin gold necklace with a gold cross that hangs low, buried in Andy Garcia’s chest hair as seen when he wraps on his scarlet silk robe to confront the killers in his apartment.
The knee-length silk dressing gown has a subtle self-polka dot pattern and ties with a sash around his waist.
Vincent uses a Beretta Cheetah semi-automatic pistol to great effect against the two killers, presumably having taken it from the thug credited as Mask #2 (Michael Bowen) and eventually used to dispatch both.
Beretta introduced this Series 81 line of compact pistols to the market in 1976, thus it’s not an anachronism to be featured in this scene set in 1979. Cosmetically similar (but not identical) to the larger Beretta 92 series that had been introduced the same year, the alloy-framed Cheetah pistols are blowback-operated and chambered for smaller pistol calibers including .32 ACP, .380 ACP, and .22 LR. The moniker is consistent with Beretta marketing its pistols with feline names like the Bobcat, Cougar, Jaguar, and Tomcat in addition to their numeric designations.
The rounded trigger guard on Vincent’s pistol suggests that it’s an earlier model (prior to the squared “combat” trigger guards introduced for the F and FS versions), though it lacks the wooden grips found on base models so it’s more likely a B or BB version evolution.
Based on the bore size, I also believe Vincent wields one of the .380 ACP model Cheetahs, which rules out the .32-caliber Models 81 and 82 and the .22-caliber Model 87. Of the remaining .380 ACP pistols, I don’t believe it’s a Model 86 as it lacks the tip-up barrel that loads a round directly into the chamber, nor does it have the longer 4″ barrel of the Model 83. Given how Garcia’s hand closes over the grip, I believe it’s not the Model 84 with its double-stacked 13-round capacity; thus, process of elimination suggests that Vincent uses a Beretta Model 85BB “Cheetah” with a 3.81″ barrel and single-stack magazine carrying eight rounds of .380 ACP.
In this close-up that requires Vincent to actually kill Mask #2, his Cheetah is swapped out for what appears to be a Walther PP pistol, though it’s likely that this was just a non-firing “non-gun” used for the actor’s safety rather than a functioning blank-firing pistol. Like the Cheetah series, the Walther PP is typically chambered in .32 ACP and .380 ACP with limited models also available in .22 LR.
Vincent would later use another similarly-framed Beretta, a .32-caliber Model 70, during the film’s final sequence set at the Sicilian opera. The Beretta Cheetah had also appeared in the 1983 Scarface remake, in which Al Pacino carried a .32-caliber Model 81 as a more practical supplement to his “little friend”, and a Model 85BB would famously feature as the gun Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) pulled from inside a fish’s mouth for a kill in the first season finale of The Sopranos.
What to Imbibe
Above his headboard, Vincent keeps a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and a glass suggesting that he poured some out before his tryst with Grace. This Tennessee whiskey would be on-brand for Vincent as a noted favorite of famous icons reputed for brashness and badassery from Frank Sinatra to Keith Richards. (Vincent probably considers himself an amalgamation of both!)
How to Get the Look
Not yet the sophisticated dresser he would become under his uncle Michael’s tutelage, Vincent Mancini crashes a Corleone family celebration in a black leather jacket over a blood red shirt. Points for formality as he at least wears a tie (and in his uncle’s new favorite print), and his minor sartorial controversy isn’t offensive enough to keep him out of the family photograph taken to commemorate the event.
Decades later, Vincent’s leather sports coat and tie would be considerably dressier than many men wear to parties, and this time of year makes his festive holiday red shirt particularly welcome.
- Black leather single-breasted 2-button sport jacket with cran necker lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 4-button narrow-“turnback” cuffs, and ventless back
- Burgundy silky shirt with point collar, set-in breast pocket, and button cuffs
- Bronze-on-red paisley silk tie
- Black wool flat front trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black calf leather cap-toe oxford shoes
- Gold necklace with cross
- Gold wristwatch with off-white round dial on dark brown textured leather strap
- Gold chain-link ID bracelet
- Gold ring with flat ovular surface
Vincent’s bracelet and ring can be most clearly seen as he cooks with Mary while in hiding.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the series and find Coppola’s recut The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.
Do I look like a guy who’s gonna lose?