The self same Brian Mickelthwait has some thoughts on The Godfather today. He seems to like the more structured, linear, and operatic Godfather over the sequel, Godfather Part II. He has yet to get to Godfather 3.
The second one had a really strong "deleted scenes from the real movie" feeling about it. I don't share the widespread opinion that Godfather 2 is the greatest movie in general and sequel in particular ever made. I thought half of it was those deleted scenes, and the other half was a rather slight anti-capitalist Americans Being Evil in Central America movie, that every star seemed to want to do one of in those days, usually starring a journalist or a photojournalist. The Godfather is, in short, one movie, not three. There is The Movie. There are the extra bits. There is the Al Pacino versus the Jewish Guy bit, which is as small and mundane and stitched on as the Real Movie is big and remarkable and of itself. And there is 3, which everyone says is nonsense, and which I'll let you know about when I've sat through it.Yes, G2 is less linear, yes it is focused on the parts of the book that got left out of G1, but the great Lee Strasberg as Hyman Roth, Fredo in the boat, De Niro at his best as the young Vito Corleone. There is so much good stuff in G2. The film has a more sprawling, Sergio Leone or Bertolucci style to it. It is less opera and more family epic history.
The Godfather (Part I) may in fact, in some ways, be the better movie. But to dismiss Part II as a collection of deleted scenes is to miss the point. Where I agree with Brian is that these movies are best seen together. He mentions the TV version (known in America as "The Godfather Saga"), which re-edits the two films chronologically. I would love to see this version on DVD (without the cleaned up language that Coppola did for American TV).
Read the whole thing here.