Fridge / The Godfather

The Movies

Fridge Brilliance
  • The Godfather: After Sonny's death, Don Vito calls a truce with the other four Families, saying that unless pushed he will not be the one to break it. In the game it doesn't make a bit of difference, guys, as you can still freely first-strike other Families. Then it sinks in that Vito said he won't be the one to break the truce. Nothing about cat's-paws, lackeys, or underlings.
    • In the film, he makes that arrangement in order to bring Michael back safely. It seems unlikely that he would risk his son's life on a bit of cheap wordplay. The other families surely wouldn't respect the truce in that instance anyway.
    • He also swears that he won't be the one to break it "on the blood of his grandchildren". Shortly after, we see him plotting with Michael against the other Families (partly because they know Barzini has a mole in theirs), and at the end, Michael has all the other heads assassinated... and come the third movie, Vito's grandaughter by Michael is killed by a bullet meant for his son.
  • Michael was widely regarded to be a noncombatant by the different Mafia families, despite being the son of Vito Corleone, due mainly to the fact that he stayed out of the Family Business, kept his nose clean, and was a certifiable war hero. He might as well not be part of the family as far as they are concerned, when there are far more relevant targets such as Sonny (or Vito himself) whose deaths would actually affect how the family was run. Once Michael gets drawn in, he is shown to be very ruthless, and very cold. When asked what he would do after killing Solozzo and McCluskey, he replied that he would sit down and finish his meal. When his godson is being baptized, he has his men do a mass-killing of the rival family heads and Moe Greene. In the second movie, he is told that he pissed off a lot of people when he did that, as it wasn't how things are done, and it is implied that this bought him a short term advantage at the cost of long-term problems. Why does he take this approach? Because he doesn't have any direct background in the Mafia. He is a soldier, who was trained to deal with his enemies far more directly than what is considered appropriate in the American Mafia. If someone is an enemy and is dangerous to you, you kill them before they can do the same to you... if you are talking about two armies on the battlefield.
    • Michael may not have been a mobster originally, but as stated above he was a soldier. In the mobster world, you don't touch officers. But in the world Michael was used to, the military world, you kill "officers" if they're not on your side. An opposing officer's stripes would not deter him on the battlefield. Michael could look at McClusky as something other than untouchable because of his background. McClusky was just another enemy soldier to Michael, who'd made the mistake of breaking his jaw.
    • Even worse: McClusky was a Dirty Cop, which could be seen essentially as him being a traitor to the uniform, and thus beneath contempt to a man of Michael's background.
  • The opening scene of The Godfather gives us Amerigo Bonasera asking Don Vito to kill (implied) the men who ravaged his daughter as vengeance, describing how "she will never be beautiful again." This scene is mirrored later in the film after Sonny's death, where we find Don Vito asking Bonasera not for vengeance, but simply for him to use his skills as an undertaker to make Vito's son beautiful again.
  • Originally, Clemenza was supposed to reappear in Part II, but actor Richard Castellano had a disagreement with the filmmakers, so his role was filled by a new character, Frank Pentangeli. In the film, Pentangeli survives an assassination attempt he believes came from Michael Corleone, and becomes a witness against him in the senate hearings investigating organized crime. Corleone brings Pentangeli's brother from Sicily to the hearings, which causes him to recant his testimony. Later, Tom Hagen gives Pentangeli Michael's offer to spare his family if he commits suicide. This wouldn't have worked if they had had Clemenza. In the scenes set in the past, they show young Clemenza (played by Bruno Kirby) crossing himself before eating. It shows that though he might be a murderous thug, he's still a good Catholic, and a good Catholic wouldn't commit suicide!
  • In Part I, Vito says to the other dons, "I swear, on the souls of my grandchildren, that I will not be the one to break the peace we've made here today." Technically, he kept his promise, but in Part III, his granddaughter Mary, an innocent civilian, is killed by a bullet meant for Michael.
    • Even more appropriate considering how heavily implied it is that Vito orchestrated the whole thing, with Michael just "pushing a button", so to speak.
  • Vito refusing to kill the two men who brutalized Amerigo's daughter seems, at first, to be a Pet the Dog moment for Vito. He says he's doing it because it wouldn't be justice. Instead, he's just going to have them badly beaten. It allows us to see Vito as a Friendly Neighborhood Gangster. However, if you take a step back, there's numerous practical reasons why Vito would do it this way. Murder is a very serious crime which runs the risk of endangering his family and soldiers on behalf of someone who is of very little social and economic importance. Two dead civilians would also draw police attention more than dead mobsters.
    • Amerigo is also an outsider who might suffer an attack of conscience and turn to the police. He'd then have knowledge linking Vito to two murders. By contrast, Vito having two men beaten up badly for harming a young woman is unlikely to draw nearly as much attention, especially if their crime is common knowledge. It also would be far easier for Amerigo's conscience to stomach in the long-term, even if he wants them dead now.
    • In addition, it's made clear in the novel that the boys come from powerful families. One's father is even a very powerful politician. Their families would be likely willing and able to exact revenge for death. A brutal beating may be seen as something they deserve.
  • The use of Cavalleria Rusticana in Part III becomes even more poignant when the Intermezzo plays over Mary's death, and ultimately Michael's during the ending. As the Intermezzo is only played in the middle of the Opera, it highlights the realization that Michael's death is not really the end, but simply the closing of one tragic if bloody chapter in the Corleone saga. Something that Kay voices out earlier in the film: "It never ends."
  • Don Vito uses his connections and influence as an actual godfather (ie a guardian) rather than as a crime lord. This is because he did not wish to stay a criminal, or to let his children take to crime; he is aware that criminal life will eventually destroy the people who stay in it too long. He himself had gone down the path of crime only because he had no other choice to survive. He sadly comments to Michael that he had hoped his family would leave the underworld life behind and achieve legitimacy, which reinforces this theory.
  • Listen to Tom Hagen's words very carefully when he's questioned by the Senate committee chairmen about Frank Pentageli's brother's presence at the hearing in Part II. The senators, clearly suspicious about Frank's sudden recanting of his testimony in the presence of his brother, asking Tom to clarify if Vincenzo Pentageli "knows nothing about these matters." Tom's only reply is "To my knowledge, nothing." Tom obviously knew what was going on, but it was Michael who arranged to have Vincenzo brought to the hearing from Italy. Tom (likely on purpose) was kept out of this, meaning that he was never explicitly told by Michael what his intent was in bringing Vincenzo to the hearing. Ever the legal mind, Tom cunningly found a way to not commit perjury by using Exact Words.

Fridge Horror

  • The ending to Part III. Before the passing of Mario Puzo, he and Francis had plans to make the next Godfather as Vincent's time as the Don, and he would have gone into the drug trade. It would have ended with his death sometime in the mid-90s, after being hunted down and killed in a police shootout. Taken this account, Michael's death in '97 makes it all the more tragic since the Corleone name was by that point a worthless name because of the damage Vincent had done. Michael Corleone would have truly died broken and alone.
    • Technically, according to a "Corleone family tree" found in the Coppola Restoration compilation as an extra, Vincent gets gunned down in 2005 after soiling the Corleone name by getting into the drug business.
  • Carmela (Vito's wife) is actually the bad apple in the marriage: all the Corleone boys have terrible defects not present in Vito: Sonny's violence, Fredo's vices and Michael's cold heart. Since all this didn't come from Vito, then it had to be from their mother's side who doesn't appear that much to be noticed as an actual evil person. In a way, she might be the Bigger Bad or even The Man Behind the Man since in the part II flashbacks she's the one who introduced her husband to the first of his "godsons" asking favors.
    • In the beginning of Godfather II, Connie brings a man to the party for the First Communion of Michael's son. When she asked her mother, Carmela, to help her skip over everyone else to see Michael, she tells Connie to visit her children first before waiting in line to see Michael like everyone else. The way she said it, is the same way Sonny would have said it, if he was alive.
  • A flashback in Part II reveals that Sonny was the one who introduced Carlo to Connie. That means Sonny had to live with the knowledge that he introduced his little sister to the man who would later abuse and mistreat her. He probably regretted that for years. Sonny's anger issues aside, it's no wonder he flipped out so badly when he saw Connie had been beaten. It's likely he was as angry at himself as he was towards Carlo.
  • More on the flashback in Part II, it's revealed that of all his siblings, Fredo is the only one who supported Michael's decision to join the Marines. At first it looks like a heartwarming moment... But then, once we put it together with just how badly Fredo resents Michael, his father's favorite son, for stepping over him, the scene takes a much more darker turn. Of course Fredo wanted Michael to join the Marines; of course Fredo wanted Michael to keep out of family's business. Michael's mere presence makes him feel weak, ineffectual, and conscious of his shortcomings. His resentment to Michael has been growing all this time.