by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-chief
Way back in the late 90’s I took a trip to New York City and wandered into a random video store and spotted one of the things I had been questing for for a long time, The Godfather: The Complete Epic, a VHS version of the first two films cut into chronological order that was released to home video in 1981.
This VHS version was a shortened version based on The Godfather: The Complete Novel for Television, a seven hour cut of the film that NBC aired over 4 nights in November 1977. The cut was produced with the authorization of Francis Ford Coppola , reportedly to raise money for his then severely over budget Apocalypse Now. The film incorporated 75 minutes of footage that was shot, but not included in the previous films including Don Fanucci being attacked by street thugs, Vito Corleone’s first encounter with Hyman Roth, Vito killing two of the mafiosi who worked for Don Ciccio and were instrumental in his family’s death, Michael Corleone’s reunion with his father after his return from Sicily, and Sonny Corleone’s taking charge of the family after his father is severely wounded. Unfortunately, the edit also toned down the violence, language and sex for television audiences.
HBO has taken this version and added the violence, language and sex back in, creating a definitive cut that is now available on HBO Now as The Godfather Epic. The 434 minute cut will also air on HBO on January 23. Thankfully The Godfather: Part III will be nowhere near this version of the film, presumably banished to the island of misfit toys that serves as home to the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, Gili and Ishtar.