The Godfather

Generally acknowledged as a bona fide classic, this Francis Ford Coppola film is one of those rare experiences that feels perfectly right from beginning to end--almost as if everyone involved had been born to participate in it. Based on Mario Puzo's bestselling novel about a Mafia dynasty, Coppola's Godfather extracted and enhanced the most universal themes of immigrant experience in America: the plotting-out of hopes and dreams for one's successors, the raising of children to carry on the good work, etc. In the midst of generational strife during the Vietnam years, the film somehow struck a chord with a nation fascinated by the metamorphosis of a rebellious son (Al Pacino) into the keeper of his father's dream. Marlon Brando played against Puzo's own conception of patriarch Vito Corleone, and time has certainly proven the actor correct. The rest of the cast, particularly James Caan, John Cazale, and Robert Duvall as the rest of Vito's male brood--all coping with how to take the mantle of responsibility from their father--is seamless and wonderful. --Tom Keogh

Genre: Crime, Drama
Production: Paramount Pictures
  Won 3 Oscars. Another 24 wins & 28 nominations.
 
IMDB:
9.2
Metacritic:
100
Rotten Tomatoes:
98%
R
Year:
1972
175
Website
10,482 Views

Amerigo Bonasera:
I believe in America. America has made my fortune, and I raised my daughter in the American fashion. I gave her freedom, but I taught her never to dishonor her family. She found a boyfriend, not an Italian. She went to the movies with him. She stayed out late. I didn't protest. Two months ago he took her for a drive, with another boy friend. They made her drink whiskey and then they tried to take advantage of her. She resisted. She kept her honor, so they beat her like an animal. When I went to the hospital her nose was broken. Her jaw was shattered, held together by wire. She couldn't even weep because of the pain, but I wept. Why did I weep? She was the light of my life. A beautiful girl. Now she will never be beautiful again. [sobs] Sorry. I went to the police, like a good American. These two boys were brought to trial. The judge sentenced them to three years in prison, and suspended the sentence. Suspended sentence! They went free that very day! I stood in the courtroom like a fool, and those two bastards, they smiled at me. Then I said to my wife, "For justice, we must go to Don Corleone."

Don Vito Corleone:
Why did you go to the police? Why didn't you come to me first?

Bonasera:
What do you want of me? Tell me anything, but do what I beg you to do.

Vito:
What is that?

Bonasera:
[whispering in Vito's ear] I want them dead.

Vito:
That I cannot do.

Bonasera:
I will give you anything you ask.

Vito:
We've known each other many years, but this is the first time you ever came to me for counsel or for help. I can't remember the last time that you invited me to your house for a cup of coffee, even though my wife is godmother to your only child. But let's be frank here. You never wanted my friendship and, uh, you were afraid to be in my debt.

Bonasera:
I didn't want to get into trouble.

Vito:
I understand. You found paradise in America, you had a good trade, you made a good living, the police protected you, and there were courts of law. You didn't need a friend like me. But, now you come to me, and you say: "Don Corleone, give me justice." But you don't ask with respect. You don't offer friendship. You don't even think to call me Godfather. Instead, you come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married, and you ask me to do murder for money.

Bonasera:
I ask for justice.

Vito:
That is not justice. Your daughter is still alive.

Bonasera:
Let them suffer then, as she suffers. How much shall I pay you?

Vito:
Bonasera, Bonasera. What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you'd come to me in friendship, then that scum that ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies. And then they would fear you.

Bonasera:
Be my friend, Godfather. [kisses Vito's hand]

Vito:
Good. Someday — and that day may never come — I'll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter's wedding day.

Bonasera:
Grazie, Godfather.

Vito:
Prego. [Bonasera leaves, and Don Corleone turns to Tom] Give this to, uh, Clemenza. I want reliable people, people who aren't going to be carried away. After all, we're not murderers, in spite of what this undertaker thinks.

Virgil "the Turk" Sollozzo:
Your boss is dead. I know you're not in the muscle-end of the family, Tom, so I don't want you to be scared. I want you to help the Corleones, and I want you to help me. [hands Tom a drink.] Yeah, we got him outside his office just about an hour after we picked you up. Drink it. So now it's up to you to make the peace between me and Sonny. Sonny was hot for my idea, wasn't he? And you knew it was the right thing to do.

Tom Hagen:
Sonny'll come after you with everything he's got.

Sollozzo:
That'll be his first reaction, sure. That's why you gotta talk some sense into him. The Tattaglia family is behind me with all their people. The other New York families will go along with anything that will prevent a full-scale war. Let's face it, Tom, and all due respect, the Don, rest in peace, was slipping. Ten years ago, could I have gotten to him? Well, now, he's dead. He's dead, Tom, and nothing can bring him back, so you gotta talk to Sonny. You gotta talk to the caporegimes, that Tessio and that fat Clemenza. It's good business, Tom.

Tom:
I'll try, but even Sonny won't be able to call off Luca Brasi.

Sollozzo:
Yeah, well, let me worry about Luca. You just talk to Sonny and the other two kids.

Tom:
I'll do my best.

Sollozzo:
Good. Now, you can go. I don't like violence, Tom. I'm a business man. Blood is a big expense. [receives news from an arriving car] He's still alive. They hit him with five shots, and he's still alive! Well, that's bad luck for me, and bad luck for you if you don't make that deal!

Peter Clemenza:
[shows Michael a revolver] This is as cold as they come, impossible to trace, so you don't worry about prints, Mike. I put a special tape on the trigger and the butt. Here, try it. [Michael takes the revolver] What'sa matter? The trigger too tight?

Michael Corleone:
No. [He fires] Ah, my ears.

Clemenza:
Yeah, I left it noisy. That way, it scares any pain-in-the-ass innocent bystanders away. All right, you shot 'em both. Now what do you do?

Michael:
Sit down, finish my dinner.

Clemenza:
Come on, kid. Don't fool around. Just let your hand drop to your side, and let the gun slip out. Everybody'll still think you got it. They're gonna be staring at your face, Mike, so walk out of the place real fast, but don't run. Don't look nobody directly in the eye, but you don't look away either. Eh, they're gonna be scared stiff of you, believe me, so don't worry about nothing. You know, you gonna turn out all right. You take a long vacation, nobody knows where, and we gonna catch the hell.

Michael:
How bad do you think it's gonna be?

Clemenza:
Pretty god-damn bad. Probably, all the other families will line up against us. That's all right. These things gotta happen every five years or so, ten years. Helps to get rid of the bad blood. Been ten years since the last one. You know, you gotta stop 'em at the beginning, like they shoulda stopped Hitler at Munich. They should never have let him get away with that. They was just asking for big trouble. You know, Mike, we was all proud of you, being a hero and all. Your father, too.

Don Vito Corleone:
[to the heads of the Five Families] How did things ever get so far? I don't know. It was so unfortunate, so unnecessary. Tattaglia lost a son and I lost a son. We're quits, and if Tattaglia agrees, then I'm willing to let things go on the way they were before.

Don Emilio Barzini:
We're all grateful to Don Corleone for calling this meeting. We all know him as a man of his word. A modest man who will always listen to reason.

Don Phillip Tattaglia:
Yes, Barzini, he is too modest. He had all the judges and politicians in his pocket, and refused to share them.

Vito:
When? When did I ever refuse an accommodation? All of you know me here. When did I ever refuse, except one time? And why? Because I believe this drug business is gonna destroy us in the years to come. I mean, it's not like gambling or liquor, even women, which is something that most people want nowadays and it's forbidden to them by the pezzonovantes in the church. Even the police departments have helped us in the past with gambling and other things. They're gonna refuse to help us when it comes to narcotics. And I believed that then, and I believe that now.

Barzini:
Times have changed. It's not like the old days when we could do anything we want. A refusal is not the act of a friend. Don Corleone had all the judges and the politicians in New York, and he must share them. He must let us draw the water from the well. Certainly, he can present a bill for such services. After all, we are not Communists!

Zaluchi:
I also don't believe in drugs. For years I paid my people extra so they wouldn't do that kind of business. Somebody comes to them and says, "I have powders. If you put up three, four thousand dollar investment, we can make fifty thousand distributing." So they can't resist. I want to control it as a business, to keep it respectable. I don't want it near schools! I don't want it sold to children! That's an infamia. In my city, we would keep the traffic in the dark people, the coloreds. They're animals anyway, so let them lose their souls.

Vito:
I hoped that we would come here and reason together. And as a reasonable man, I'm willing to do whatever is necessary to find a peaceful solution to these problems.

Barzini:
Then we are agreed. The traffic in drugs will be permitted, but controlled, and Don Corleone will give us protection in the east, and there will be the peace.

Tattaglia:
But I must have strict assurance from Corleone. As time goes by and his position becomes stronger, will he attempt any individual vendetta?

Barzini:
Look, we are all reasonable men here. We don't have to give assurances as if we were lawyers.

Vito:
You talk about vengeance. Is vengeance going to bring your son back to you or my boy to me? I forgo the vengeance on my son. But I have selfish reasons. My youngest son was forced to leave this country because of all this Solozzo business. All right. Now I have to make arrangements to bring him back here safely, but I'm a superstitious man, and if some unlucky accident should befall him — if he should get shot in the head by a police officer, or if he should hang himself in his jail cell, or if he's struck by a bolt of lightning — then I'm going to blame some of the people in this room. And that, I do not forgive. But that aside, let me say that I swear on the souls of my grandchildren that I will not be the one to break the peace that we have made here today.

[While Carlo dials the phone, Michael Corleone enters the room with Tom Hagen, Al Neri and Rocco Lampone. Carlo turns and looks at Michael's new inner circle]

Michael Corleone:
You have to answer for Santino, Carlo.

Carlo Rizzi:
Mike, you've got it all wrong!

Michael:
You fingered Sonny for the Barzini people. Ah, that little farce you played with my sister. Did you think that would fool a Corleone?

Carlo:
Mike, I'm innocent. I swear on my kids. Please don't do this to me, Mike.

Michael:
Sit down.

Carlo:
Please don't do this. Please.

Michael:
Barzini's dead. So is Phillip Tattaglia, Moe Greene, Stracci, Cuneo. Today, I settle all family business, so don't tell me you're innocent, Carlo. Admit what you did. [Carlo breaks down] Get him a drink. Come on. Don't be afraid, Carlo. Come on. You think I'd make my sister a widow? I'm Godfather to your son, Carlo. [Gives Carlo a drink] Go ahead, drink. Drink. No, Carlo, you're out of the family business, that's your punishment. We're finished. I'm putting you on a plane to Vegas. Tom? [Tom produces a plane ticket] I want you to stay there, understand? Only, don't tell me you're innocent, because it insults my intelligence. It makes me very angry. Now who approached you: Tattaglia or Barzini?

Carlo:
It was Barzini.

Michael:
Good. There's a car waiting for you outside, it'll take you to the airport. I'll call your wife and tell her what flight you're on.

Carlo:
Mike, it was—

Michael:
Go on. Get out of my sight.

[Carlo gets in the car and notices Clemenza sitting behind him]

Peter Clemenza:
Hey, Carlo. [strangles Carlo]

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