Michael Cimino's adaptation of Mario Puzo's semi-prequel to 'The Godfather' has scope and majesty, but it's positively endless.The bland awfulness of Christopher Lambert's performance as legendary Sicilian bandit Salvatore Guiliano is surpassed only by the ineptitude of Barbara Sukawa as the duchess who wins his heart. For what seems like decades, expensively-tailored Mafia dons sit amid lush interiors (by Wolf Kroeger) and discuss what to do about this troublesome young Guiliano.
Things get off to a lovely start when Guiliano, shot in the abdomen, is taken to his dusty hide-out, where his men stuff rags into his open, gushing wound in close-up after close-up. As a corpulent don who conducts his business with unfaltering politeness, Joss Ackland is a mercifully witty presence; John Turturro, though given nothing but unsayable lines ("I hate you people! What you've done to us!"), makes a strong impression anyway as Guiliano's cousin. The home-video version retains Cimino's full version (the movie had been trimmed by half an hour for its theatrical release), but it's unwatchable at any length. This, not Heaven's Gate, is Cimino's true self-indulgent boondoggle.Gore Vidal claimed that he, and not the credited Steve Shagan, wrote the bulk of the script ("I wrote 90 percent of it, and Mr. Shagan wrote about 1 percent ... Not only did I write one-third of 'The Sicilian,' but maybe about twenty of his lines are in it, mostly having to do with cups of coffee"), and took the matter to court. Why Vidal would have wanted to admit to writing this turkey, much less fighting for credit, is a vast and enduring mystery.