One of the most realistic line-readings in The Godfather happens when James Caan’s Sony Corleone warns the beaten and bloody Carlo (Gianni Russo) to never again brutalize his sister Connie (Talia Shire), Carlo’s wife. What makes it great is that Sonny is so winded from beating up Carlo that he’s forced to take a breath after saying “touch” (beat) and then “…my sister again I’ll kill ya.”

And yet this scene has been blemished for a half-century by a small but memorable error that could have been easily fixed.

There’s Still Time, Brother,” posted on 9.19.08:

Early this morning HE reader Frank Booth, commenting about the Francis Coppola/Robert Harris restoration of the Godfather films, made a good point about an irritant in the original 1972 film — one that’s been bothering me for decades.

He was speaking of the second-act beating scene in which Sonny laughably air-punches Carlo. There’s no missing the mistake because the shot is perfectly positioned to catch it — a nice clean side-angle. And it’s so distinct that it takes you right out of the film. When Booth saw a theatrical screening “it took a minute or so of the Sicilian wedding for the audience to stop giggling,” he says.

And yet despite all the digital refinements and restorations, not to mention that massive re-edit of Parts I and II that resulted in The Godfather Saga in the mid ’70s, Coppola has left that mistake in — minor, yes, but one that slightly interferes with the enjoyment of this film each and every time.

All Coppola would have to do is cut away from the Sonny-Carlo beating for a a second or two and show…whatever, one of the hoods standing nearby, one of the little kids watching the fight, a master shot from a different angle. There must be extra footage lying around. All Coppola would need is 24 to 36 frames.

If you had directed The Godfather, would you want that mistake to remain in the definitive print for centuries to come? I wouldn’t. If George Lucas can make Greedo shoot first, Francis Coppola can fix Sonny’s air punch.