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  • Clemenza has a line: "...it's a lot of bad blood. Sollozzo, Philip Tattaglia, Bruno Tattaglia; Carbone,..." Who the heck is Carbone?
    • Seems to be a one time ghost. He's only mentioned once in the final script and not at all in the novel. Knowing that Richard Castellano loved to add his own stuff, a Throw It In! can't be discarded.
  • After being turned down by Don Corleone for support in their narcotics enterprise, why did the Tattaglias and Sollozzo go after the Corleones? If Tom's assessment of them is to be believed, they could have been perfectly successful even without the protection the Corleones could offer, though maybe not as easily. There was no conflict of interest, as the Don pointed out. The Tattaglias could have gone on with their narcotics deal, the Corleones sticking with their own rackets, and in a few years down the line, they'd have been in a better position of strength. Going to war unnecessarily wasn't good for business.
    • To them, neutrality is not good enough, because it doesn't stop prosecution. It's implied that proactive help from the Corleones' network of corruption is needed in order to make it worthy. At least the other families think they are not profiting enough from it without the network. Tattaglia and Barzini are visibly annoyed, Vito's "selfish and unfriendly" gesture means they are taking too much risk and not gaining enough money. In addition, Tattaglia is a pimp, greedy and easily manipulated (he's not invited to the wedding, he's a longtime foe), and Sollozzo is an upcoming player who is eager to climb-up and has contempt for the old Don, who "was slipping", so overthrowing the old order comes only natural to him, a generational thing, a literal Young Turk vs a Moustache Pete.
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    • In addition, they know that Sonny thought the deal was really good (he said so at the meeting), and they correctly suspect that Hagen and Vito's other advisors think that narcotics is the coming thing. In the book Sollozzo explains that without Vito, Sonny and the Corleone family will need the extra money from drug trafficking to offset the loss of Vito's personal influence. He thinks that the Corleone family will basically have to take the deal if Vito dies, and although he does realize that Sonny will always hate him personally he figures he can avoid situations where Sonny will be able to kill him.
    • One more note that could have triggered the violence: Tattaglia and Sollozzo may have been perfectly fine being neutral, but Don Vito sends in Luca Brasi, the Family's most feared enforcer, as a spy (under the guise of defecting). It's possible they saw through this rather obvious attempt to spy and dig and reconsidered their neutral stance.
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    • Though it's not in the movie, the novel's narration outright says that Barzini (the actual instigator of the entire war) wants to replace Vito as the most powerful Don of New York. It could have been a Xanatos Gambit on his part; (a) if Vito refuses, he gets to complain to the rest of the Dons that Vito is trying to keep them down; (b) if Vito agrees he can collect his share from Sollozo until he figures that the Corleone family has become dependent (heh) on the drug business and then try to have Vito killed. Sonny expressing interest in the deal was just a happy coincidence for him.

  • Why did Michael have to shoot McCluskey as well as Sollozzo? After shooting Sollozzo he could have disarmed McCluskey at gunpoint and made his escape. Instead of being the prime suspect in the murder of a police captain he would have been implicated only in the shooting of an ex-con drug dealer, and this wouldn't have required over a year's risky exile in Sicily.
    • If Michael does this, he has basically committed premeditated murder in front of a virtually unimpeachable eyewitness who (according to Sonny) has let his precinct know on a sign-out sheet that he will be in that exact restaurant at that exact time. Once Michael leaves McCluskey could just finger him and he'd face the electric chair. This is why Sollozzo employs McCluskey as a bodyguard to begin with. The double murder has the same effect in getting the police involved, but as the film shows, does allow the press to dig up McCluskey's past.
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    • I think that this is a good point - McCluskey was always willing to deal for a price so probably would have been content to have left the place just before the shooting occurred. Unfortunately for him, the thirty seconds it would take to make that deal are too many for Michael to waste in exiting the restaurant.

  • So Michael has his goons wipe out the Dons of the other families. Why didn't they retaliate?
    • Remember how the Turk thought that the Corleones would eventually capitulate with Vito dead to prevent a war? Same principle, but Michael was better at the setup and execution.
    • Much like what Sollozzo wanted to accomplish by killing Vito, killing the heads of the other families lessens their power because the old Dons had connections that their successors aren't going to be as cozy with. In GF II, at the Senate hearings, they explain this as Michael "consolidating power". In fact, killing the other family heads was Vito's plan, as he knew the Corleone family would be weakened by his death and the only way to keep the Corleone family powerful was by a strong action like that.
    • It's also that Michael killed them all at roughly the same time, which would impress upon the successors just how dangerous an opponent Michael would be. The book elaborates a bit more, explaining that a lot of rival businesses were raided, but mainly it's about shocking the other Families into collapse.
      • The book also only has Barzini and Tattaglia among the Five Families heads killed; Stracci and Cuneo, presumably smaller families, just went with the flow.
    • They may also face internal weaknesses, power struggles, etc. Michael takes over the Corleone family pretty much because he's the only viable candidate at that point (Fredo clearly isn't up to it and no one would take him seriously enough to join his side in a power struggle), whereas there's no guarantee with the other Families that the line of succession is as clear or that someone isn't going to make a power grab. Essentially, they might be too distracted getting their own houses in order to be in a position to retaliate.
      • This grand move was also done to solidify Michael's legitimacy to power. The Winegardner sequels play this up: Unlike Sonny (who was widely viewed to be the Don's successor before his own untimely death) Michael had never even been a mafia soldier, much less run a crew or been a captain, and his becoming the Don's chosen successor raised more than a few eyebrows. Puzo mentions that Clemenza or Tessio would have been prime candidates to take over the family. It's noted in the novel that at the first meeting after the Don's death, Clemenza calls him "Mike" instead of "Michael," to say nothing of "Don" or "Godfather." After the grand move, Clemenza kisses his hand and specifically addresses him as "Don Corleone," Michael now being seen as a legitimate successor to his father.

  • How in the name Christ did Tom Hagen, a non-Sicilian, in 1945, ever rank as high in the family as consigliere? HOW?
    • That's what Don Corleone wanted. Who's going to tell him otherwise? In the "real" Mafia, all that stuff about blood oaths and the old country is a bunch of crap foisted off onto the junior members to make them feel like they're part of an exclusive honor society. The upper echelons see power and money as their own rewards. Look at Lucky Luciano; he handed off the "official" Mafia titles when he was locked up, then told his Italian successors that he expected them to follow his Jewish "associate"'s orders to the letter.
      • While the stuff about honor is crap, except for a time in the 80's where you had to be pure Italian on your father's side (to let John Gotti's son John Jr. who is part Russian join), you have to be full blooded Italian in order to join. Even highly respected Jewish gangsters like Meyer Lansky were never admitted. He was respected for his intelligence and his money-making skills, but he never ordered anyone in the Mob, not without the okay from Luciano or other high-ranking officials. The blood oaths by all accounts are real.
      • But weren't Mustache Petes like Salvatore Maranzano and Joe Masseria practically the racist ones, whereas Luciano wasn't?
      • Most likely it's just a minor fudge from the reality in order to enable an outsider's perspective on events if desired and to introduce a bit of drama and conflict in places. It's still a work of fiction, after all, not a 100%-accurate history of la Cosa nostra statunitense, so we can probably forgive a few detours from the strict reality. If we're looking for a Hand Wave, we can simply suggest that Vito Corleone was simply a bit more open-minded than some of the other Moustache Petes when it came to matters of family and blood. Furthermore, it's only one guy he's taken a fatherly liking to, not an alliance with a whole other non-Sicilian family, Tom's clearly capable, well-liked and respected by the people around him, and ultimately, Vito's reached a position of respect, power and influence that means he can pretty much do whatever he wants. If the people underneath him don't like it, what are they going to do?
    • Tom Hagen was a lawyer who grew up with Sonny and eventually entered the family business. Consigliere is the position he'd be best at. And yeah, Don Vito wanted it that way.
      • And the novel makes it very clear that Hagen's appointment was indeed a major and unique exception:
    Hagen had filled the consigliere's post for the past year, ever since the cancer had imprisoned Genco Abbandando in his hospital bed. Now he waited to hear Don Corleone say the post was his permanently. The odds were against it. So high a position was traditionally given only to a man descended from two Italian parents. There had already been trouble about his temporary performance of the duties. Also, he was only thirty-five, not old enough, supposedly, to have acquired the necessary experience and cunning for a successful consigliere... The Don had broken a long-standing tradition. The Consigliere was always a full-blooded Sicilian, and the fact that Hagen had been brought up as a member of the Don’s family made no difference to that tradition. It was a question of blood. Only a Sicilian born to the ways of omertà, the law of silence, could be trusted in the key post of consigliere.
    • Also it's not like the Don had many great options for the role:
      • Putting aside the fact that his temper would be a hindrance for a position that calls for the person to act as a family diplomat, Sonny would rightfully view it as a demotion. Possibly undercutting his effectiveness because it would always be weighing on his mind about why he went from being underboss to consigliere.
      • Clemenza and Tessio were probably better as street capos. Plus, as we see later, they want to form their own families so taking a lofty position like that would stifle their ambitions.
      • Luca Brasi is nothing but a brute, he maybe very street smart, but he would lack the smarts to be effective.
      • Paulie, Rocco, and Cicci are underlings.
      • Pentangeli was fairly low ranking at the time.
      • He never intended for Michael to get involved.
      • And do I really need to explain why appointing Fredo would be a disaster?
    • A simpler reason could be that if the consigliere were to be turned or arrested, it could spell ruin for many of the high ranking members. Both the Corleone consiglieres have something in common: they owe their lives to Vito. To elaborate, Genco Abbandando was a simple grocer who could be pushed around by a nobody like Fanucci, Vito made him a millionaire and gave him a life he could never have dreamed of; Tom would have starved to death on the street if not for Vito's generosity. These are people he feels confident will never betray him.
  • Ever since Puzo died back in 1999, who is (or are) the literary executor(s) for Puzo's canon? Because are the Mark Winegardner books and Family Corleone canon?
    • Family Corleone could probably be considered canon, as it's based off a script written by Puzo, detailing the life of the Corleone family some ten or so years prior to the films. The first Winegardner book is allegedly recognized, but the second book resulted in Paramount suing the Puzo estate — not only because they stepped over the bounds of their agreement on authorised literature, but also because The Godfather's Revenge sold badly, and "tarnished" the reputation of the franchise. There's a Reuters article about it.
  • How is it Fredo is considered stupid? Before betraying Michael, did he actually ever do a stupid thing on-screen?
    • Telling Michael he never knew Johnny Ola and then later at the "Superman" show saying aloud that Ola told him about this place, within earshot of Michael was pretty stupid!
      • No, like, did he actually fuck up business or what? Like, if you're talking about brains doesn't Sonny lack one too?
      • How about when he was supposed to be protecting his father and not only let him get shot, but couldn't shoot back, and instead of going for help, sat on the pavement and cried? And apparently pissing off his Vegas cohorts enough that he got hit, despite the fact that he's a made man and the don's brother?
      • Sonny's hot-headed and as even Vito admits probably wouldn't make a great Don, but he's tough and confident. He might not be an intellectual powerhouse or a great tactician, but he commands respect (even if mainly through fear of his temper), he's decisive, and he's not completely useless. He might not be the best to do the job, but he can do it if necessary (perhaps not as well as Vito, but he could do it). Fredo, on the other hand, comes off throughout the movies as awkward, weak-willed and inept. He mumbles and fumbles, he gives into his vices, he lets other people dominate and sway him (including, crucially, people from outside the family, like Moe Greene), he doesn't carry himself with confidence, he screws up a lot, and he's clearly just not cut out for the life of a high-level mobster. He doesn't command respect, and the way he doesn't command respect makes it easy for him to come off (or, at least, for other people to refer to him) as stupid.
    • Fredo's defining feature, which we are told in his introduction, is his lack of ambition. He stays with his parents, he's unmarried, he works for his father; while his older brothers are the "COO" and "Business strategist" of the company, he's a glorified handyman. Nobody ever asks for his opinion or advice, he doesn't have the ear of the Don despite their relationship. Because he is incapable of actually making a decisive and ruthless decision.
  • How exactly did Fredo betray Michael? It's never explained. We know that he talked to Johnny Ola but that's it. The best guess is that he told Roth's people where exactly Michael and Kay's bedroom was on the Corleone compound.When Fredo gets a phone call from Ola and Fredo says "You lied to me." then later tells Michael "I didn't know it was going to be a hit." he could mean he thought they were just going to steal something from his room instead of shooting at it.
    • An early script explains that Fredo was told by the co-conspirators of the failed hit on the Corleone compound that they wanted to kidnap Michael to put some pressure on the Corleone Family in negotiations. It doesn't explain exactly what information Fredo gave them. Perhaps he gave them information about the compound that could have been used to catch Michael off-guard for what he thought would be a kidnapping?
    • Ultimately, to Michael it doesn't matter what Fredo thought was going to happen. Remember back in the first movie, Michael tells Fredo "Don't ever take sides against the family again." In conspiring with Ola, even if Fredo didn't think they were planning to actually assassinate Michael, he took sides against the family. There's the betrayal.
  • Vito's mom claimed he wasn't very smart to Don Ciccio, but Vito proved to be a very intelligent guy throughout his life. Was this her way of trying to get Ciccio to spare him by pretending he was a little daft? He does seem oddly quiet as a kid as if there was something off about him, but by the time he reaches adulthood, again, he tends to be the smartest guy in the room. Does the novel clear any of this up?
    • The novel states that Vito was a very quiet child, simply because he didn't have much to say: he was an observer, not a talker. This is mentioned later when an adult Vito and Clemenza become friends as "Clemenza was a storyteller, and Vito was a listener to storytellers." In addition, the novel mentions almost in passing that young Vito was already known around the town of Corleone as an expert marksman, and that was what Don Ciccio was really afraid of: someone good with a gun who would have a grudge against him.
    • So yes, it was Vito's mom trying to get Ciccio to leave her son alone.
      • Not necessarily, for all she knew he was daft. He didn't really have much of a need to show his intelligence till he became a criminal.
  • Why did Michael have Cuneo and Stracci killed? It made sense with Barzini and Tattaglia since they were conspiring against him, but why the other two dons?
    • After Sollozzo and McClusky are killed, all the families go to war against the Corleones, so those two have to go too, since they were part of a unified enemy. Also Michael is not seeking mere victory, but total supremacy.
      • In the book however, Michael spared them. What caused him to do differently in the movie?
      • Watsonian, I presume a combination of paranoia and making a sweeping gesture. Doylist, I suppose Francis Ford Coppola thought the scenario of a mob boss wiping out all his rivals at one fell swoop would be a more striking conclusion than a mob boss wiping out two of his rivals and leaving the other two alone.
      • In the portion of the book about Vito's rise to power, it describes how he forged agreements that kept the peace among the different families. I think that in the book, Cuneo and Stracci join the war on the specific issue of the shooting of the police officer. I think the Corleones accept that as a legitimate grievance under those agreements.
    • In the book, Michael threw nearly all the forces of the Corleones against his enemies. He doesn't just kill the heads of the Barzini and Tattaglia families; he completely breaks their power base and takes over what's left. The show of force is supposed to cow the remaining families into submission, but it could also be that he just didn't have any guns left to take on the other two Dons. In the movie, the idea was probably to show a more strategic takedown: cutting off five heads rather than destroying two bodies.
  • Who's the fifth family? In the book and the movie, we've got Stracci, Cuneo, Barzini, Tattaglia. Who's the fifth?
    • The Corleones?
    • There is a lot of confusion around the terminology. Take these lines: Tom: "Now if we don't get into it, somebody else will. Maybe one of the Five Families, maybe all of them." Tom: "It would be disastrous. All the Five Families would come after you, Sonny. The Corleone Family would be outcasts!" Vito: "I want you to arrange a meeting, with the heads of the Five Families." Michael: "And then I'll meet with Don Barzini — and Tattaglia — all of the heads of the Five Families..." All of these lines imply that the Corleones are not one of the Five Families, since at no point does anyone word it "the other Five Families" or something similar. Make of this what you will, because there's no other obvious candidate for a fifth family.
    • The Bocchicchio Family. They're not mentioned in the movie, but the novel talks about them a lot.
      • Aha! Makes one wonder why they're not called "the Six Families."
      • The novel has a little ambiguity to it, but in the movie it's pretty clear that there's only intended to be five families including the Corleones, and that "Five Families" is used as a collective term.
    • Maybe the other families have to pool resources to keep up with the Corleones and are thus referred to as a union.
  • Does Connie know it was Carlo, who conspired with Barzini to kill her brother Sonny?
    • Near the ending of the first movie, She yells at Michael: "You blamed him for Sonny, you always did."
    • I doubt she knew then, but IIRC she knew by the time of the second film.
  • How does Sollozzo's plan make any sense? He wants the Corleones to join his narcotics business so as to gain the political protection that the Corleones can offer. All well and good. But after he has Vito shot, it becomes clear that the political connections are not the assets of the Corleone family as an organization, but are rather the personal assets of Vito Corleone. Tom makes this clear when he tells Santino that if Vito dies, they lose all his political protection. So if Sollozzo succeeds in killing Vito, he destroys the very prize he's hoping to win. The only way to explain it would be that Sollozzo does not know that the political connections are Vito's alone, but surely he would have found that out in the course of researching the Corleones prior to offering them his deal. For that matter, surely Barzini would have known that.
    • Keep in mind that Sollozzo only has Vito shot after Vito tries to send Luca Brasi into his organisation undercover. He probably interpreted that as an overt threat and responded in kind, at which point the priorities changed. And Barzini's overarching goal was to weaken the overall power of the Corleones, with Sollozzo's business being more of a secondary priority.
  • What was the point of Michael finally deciding to be godfather to Connie and Carlo's baby if he was gonna whack the latter, for his role in Sonny's death years earlier?
    • He hates Carlo, but Connie's still his sister. It's a family thing. Besides which, it gives him a perfect alibi while his surgical strikes against the other Families are going down; "No officer, I had nothing to do with it, I was at the church, acting as godfather to my newborn nephew, and hundreds of people saw me there." And also diminishes his motive against Carlo; "Detective, if I hated my brother-in-law enough to have him murdered, would I have agreed to be godfather to his child? "
    • Keeping your friends close but your enemies closer is a lesson Michael took to heart. Notice how up until the time he told Carlo he knew the part he'd played in Sonny's death that Michael appeared to be grooming Carlo to be his right hand man in Las Vegas? He'd suspected Carlo's role in Sonny's murder but had to keep Carlo close by, basically bringing Carlo into the inner circle the way Carlo had longed to ever since he married Connie. Standing godfather to Carlo and Connie's son was perfect, and better still, Michael was asked to do so and it wasn't even his idea! It required Michael to have ice in his veins, but it was definitely the right move.
    • Favoring Carlo and showing his close ties in public also contributes to the image of the helpless, clueless Don that Michael wants to project at that point. An image that makes his enemies underestimate him and uncovers traitors like Tessio.
    • Also, perhaps it's done as a remaining trace of the old Corleone (relative) magnanimity towards Carlo and specially his sister Connie, whom Michael still loves.
  • Why sent Rocco Lampone to kill Hyman Roth at the airport, where's it's crawling with guards and knowing he has a shitty leg due to his service in WWII? I mean, you see after he did it, he tried to escape on said shitty leg but the guards got to him and killed him anyway.
    • Someone has to do it, that someone's going to be in a lot of danger either way, and it's implied that, since he was head of security at Michael's compound, Rocco has some atoning to do for not being able to prevent the assassination attempt on Michael.
  • I know Tessio betrayed the Corelones by aligning with Barzini, but my question is how did he betray them?
    • Before Vito died, he explained to Michael that one of the capregimes, after Vito's death, will offer to set up a "Peace Conference" with Don Barzini to smooth out any lingering issues. This meeting will be a trap, meant to set Michael up for assassination. The traitor would be whomever approached Michael to set up the meeting. While Tom explains he would have expected the turncoat to be Peter Clemenza, Michael was not surprised the turncoat was actually Sal Tessio. The betrayal was setting Michael up to be assassinated under the guise of a peace meeting.
      • This could be a case of heartwarming, earlier in the novel Sonny asks Michael to guess whether it was Paulie or Clemenza who betrayed their father and Michael remembers Clemenza as some kind of fun uncle. He might actually be relieved that it's Tessio.
      • It's explained better in the book: Michael had been deliberately hiding the strength of the Corleone family armies from everyone except his recently-deceased father (although Tom had kind of figured it out on his own). By all appearances, Michael was going to lose badly to the Barzini-Tattaglia alliance, and the smart move for either Clemenza, Tessio or Carlo would be to cut a deal with Barzini in which Michael is killed and the betrayer becomes the head of Corleones (albeit now firmly under Barzini's thumb).
  • Okay so in the second film when Michael meets with Johnny Ola, Tom doesn't sit in the meeting. Makes sense since at this point he's out of the "family business" and is just the lawyer. But then why does he sit in during Michael's meeting with Pentangeli?
    • Michael considered Roth the real threat to his power. Michael was excluding Tom from any Roth-related business so Roth and/or Ola would have no reason to even try to recruit Tom. As Michael explains later, this means he can trust Tom as having been uncorrupted. On the other hand, Michael didn't fear Pentangeli and felt he would never betray the Corleones (correctly, as it turns out: Pentangeli only turned State's Evidence after he thought Michael had tried to have him killed). So having Tom in that meeting was no big deal, and even would be beneficial if Pentangeli liked him.
  • Along a similar line, wouldn't Pentangeli identifying Tom as consigliere (as seen in the "family tree" during the hearings) disqualify him as Michael's attorney?
    • Michael can have whatever attorney he wants. Michael's public persona is that of a legitimate businessman. Tom Hagen's public persona is that of Michael Corleone's lawyer and adopted brother. If Michael is accused of being a mafia chieftain, it wouldn't make sense for him to trust any lawyer more than he would Tom. Doesn't seem like much of a conflict of interest here unless you know for a fact what their real relationship is. And in-universe, that hadn't been proven to the committee. Innocent until proven guilty.
  • So... how did the thugs get that horse head into Woltz’s bed without him noticing?
    • Could be that he's a heavy sleeper and / or absolutely zonked out by any number of drugs in his system, sleeping pills or otherwise; guy is a scumbag Hollywood child-predator sleazeball, after all. Plus, it's a pretty big bed.
    • With Woltz's security they shouldn't have been able to get to Khartoum in the first place. Putting his head in Woltz's bed was the easy part.
    • All it takes is one disgruntled employee who promises to help them (possibly for a bribe) and they don't have to worry about security. Just saying.
  • Throughout most of the first movie, Connie and Kay have nothing to do with each other. So why, near the end, when Connie angrily confronts Michael about his having had Carlo killed, does Kay try to comfort her as if they were friends?
    • They'd been living in the same compound for years and Connie's husband had become a trusted advisor to Kay's husband. It's natural they would become friends.
    • Also, Connie's become a widow, she's clearly very distraught, and Kay isn't completely heartless. She's just trying to comfort a woman in pain.
  • In the third film, when Michael is offering to help the Vatican Bank pay its massive debt, in return for shares in Immobiliare, it turns out that the deal is a fraud, but what's the fraud?
    • The fraud is that the Vatican board, which would have to approve the transfer of control to Michael, was going to turn him down, leaving Michael with hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Immobiliare but no control of the company itself. He might not even be allowed to sell out.
  • In the third film, when Michael is speaking at the Immobiliare shareholders meeting, he mentions something about "Eastern methods of manufacture" in order to turn Immobiliare into a European conglomerate, however Immobiliare (which is a real company) is a real estate company, it doesn't manufacture stuff, this is even stated in the film, when Michael's lawyer states that it holds a huge amount of real estate. Is this ever explained?
    • The entire subplot is explained very poorly in the film (one of its many problems). The real Immobiliare had been sold by the Vatican to Gulf & Western years before the events of this movie, so a certain amount of artistic license is expected.
  • On a note related to the Tessio item above, when Michael's on the phone before the hospital ambush, he mentions that none of Tessio's men were there. Were we supposed to assume that Tessio was in league with them all the way back then, or was it just a coincidence that he was the capo who turned?
    • McClusky had thrown Tessio's men out.
    • Yes, but my question is when he actually turned. Was "Tessio's men" meant to suggest he had turned all the way back then, or was it just a coincidence that his crew was on guard that night?
    • No, there was no implication Tessio had turned on the Corleone Family at that time. It was as stated by Michael and Captain McClusky— Tessio's men were guarding Vito at the hospital and McClusky made them leave (under the pretense they were interfering with Vito's care) to give an assassin an easier target in the bedridden Don. Tessio didn't turn until Michael took over the Family and looked weak (intentionally, on Michael's part) at it. He was loyal up to then. Remember how AFTER the failed hospital hit, Tessio helped orchestrate Michael's killing of Sollozzo and McClusky? If he'd been in league with Barzini at that point that hit would never have happened. It wasn't a coincidence Tessio's men were meant to be there that night— it's a part of their duties to protect the Don.
  • In Part II, Michael visits both Roth and Pentangeli, telling each that the other was responsible for the attempted hit on his Tahoe compound. Was that to feel out their reactions to see who would crack?
    • He wanted to study their reactions. Roth is not unsympathetic towards Michael, but is mostly businesslike (because he wants Michael's money) and obviously doesn't care about the prospect of Michael taking Pentangeli out ("He's small potatoes"). Pentangeli, on the other hand, acts horrified about the attempted hit, immediately ingratiates himself towards Michael, offers all the assistance he can, and even agrees to a deal he hates (making peace with the Roth-backed Rosato brothers) because Michael wants it.
  • Why was Michael the one to kill Sollozzo and McCluskey? Couldn't the Corleones have placed some button men in or near the restaurant and had them kill the two while Michael was in the bathroom?
    • Sollozzo or his men probably would have recognized them and called the meeting off. He probably had his own button men in the restaurant already just in case.
      • Exactly. In the novel, Tom specifically asks about this and is told that Sollozzo would know all the top Corleone button men and immediately recognize it as a hit. When Tom asks if they could use an unknown newbie, Tessio responds "it would be like bringing a guy up from the minors to pitch Game 7 of the World Series," meaning the newbie might or might not come through, and they could not afford to tip their hand and then not have Sollozzo taken out. This was the only shot (no pun intended) they were likely to get.
  • Why was the conversation between Michael and Sollozzo not subtitled when all the other Italian dialogue was?
    • Sollozzo and Michael didn't talk about anything the audience didn't already know or couldn't be worked out from context, so subtitling would have been unnecessary. Besides, Michael wasn't there to actually listen to Sollozzo's offer- he was there to pretend to listen to his offer until he found an opportunity to kill him and McCluskey. Subtitles would have distracted from Michael's emotions and the tension in that scene.
  • Luca Brasi is Don Corleone's hand of vengeance, an important man in his family. So why was he surprised to be invited to his daughter's wedding?
    • As mentioned, Luca Brasi is an absolutely terrifying person. I think he wouldn't be expected to be invited to something like his Don's daughter's wedding because he's not family or a friend of the family. He's an attack dog.
    • It's also important to give the impression that there's a buffer between them so that none of Luca's actions could be tied to Vito by the courts.
    • Realise that Luca threw his newborn child into a furnace, was arrested and charged and Vito got him off, somehow. While everyone else is terrified of Luca for very good reasons, Luca is terrified of Vito because he can't fathom anyone being that powerful. He's surprised in a good way, because this great man has deigned to invite him to a personal event.
  • Why is killing Fredo supposed to be strictly business? If it's supposed to set an example, after killing all the other rivals of the family, who was left alive that knew that Fredo had misbehaved?
    • It's not for the family's rivals. It's so that everyone who works for the Corleones knows that there is nothing in the world that will protect them from Michael's wrath if they double-cross them. It wouldn't take much for one of the new capos to mention the incident to new blood or anyone else whose loyalty was questionable.
      • But that's the thing: Michael figured out by himself that Fredo had been contacting others behind his back. Had Michael kept it quiet (i.e. if their bodyguards had not been present when Michael tells Fredo that he doesn't want to see him again), after wiping out the Corleone rivals, no one besides Fredo and Michael would have known about the slip-up.
      • Simple - with his wife leaving him and a major "business" deal being unsuccessful, Mike feels powerless as these events are due to factors outside his control; so he tries to convince himself that he is in control by having all threats removed just like he did all those years ago.
    • The problem is uncertainty: even if Michael kept the secret to himself and Fredo (i.e. without letting Tom and Al Neri know), Michael can't know if someone else who might have survived in the end is in on the secret. Ola was obviously in cahoots with Roth to lure Fredo in. Maybe they both had assistants who might have heard something. Or maybe not, but how can Mike really know? Fredo accidentally spilled the beans about the meeting with Johnny Ola in a Havana night club. Who else besides Fredo and Mike was there in that group? A handful of drunk politicians. But what if one of them was lucid enough to remember what Fredo said? And even if everyone in that group died without spreading the gossip or correctly figuring out the meaning of it, where else would unreliable Fredo inadvertently drop clues of the meeting? Who knows! Was the FBI perhaps eavesdropping on Roth and Ola? Michael doesn't know. That's the thing: even with Ola and Roth out of the picture, Michael can't be sure if there is someone out there who has the quite interesting information that a dissatisfied member of the Corleones is dangerously close to the top.
  • Is it ever explained why was Michael decorated during his service in WWII? I mean the specific action that earned him his Navy Cross...
    • It isn't.
  • How is Vito Corleone's plan to legitimize the family supposed to work? He originally meant for Sonny to become Godfather while Michael would become senator or governor or whatever. But wouldn't it been better if Michael became Godfather while Fredo or Tom became their political protector? Even before the film begins, Vito is already aware that Sonny is less than ideal as head of the family.
    • I don't think it's purely strategic; on an emotional level, Vito simply loves his youngest son and doesn't want the soul-draining life of a mobster for him, especially as he can also see that Michael wants no part in it either. Besides which, there is a logic to it. Sonny is "less than ideal" for the role of Don, true, but that doesn't mean he's wholly incompetent; he's hot-headed and impulsive, but he's capable and tough, he's well suited to the gangster life, and while he probably can't do it as well as Vito he can do it if necessary. He's also the oldest, which in terms of tradition means that, unless he's a completely hopeless fuck-up, he's first in line to succeed Vito by default. Fredo, well, probably wouldn't be much better as a politician than he is as a gangster. Tom is capable and Vito clearly respects him, but at the same time he's adopted; he's not a "true" Corleone by blood, so it's not really the same. Michael, however, is the youngest, he's not interested in the Mafia life, and he's smart and capable, so why not start the family's path to legitimacy and respectability with him?
  • So Frank Pentangeli was a last minute character created because Clemenza's actor didn't want to return. But that begs the question, how would the senate committee scene have gone if it had been Clemenza instead of Pentangeli?
    • It probably would have been very similar. Puzo's Godfather semi-sequel The Sicilian even introduces us to Clemenza's brother Dominic and makes it obvious that the fearsome capo Peter Clemenza was in awe of him.
  • Why didn't Frank Pentangeli tell the panel that his brother was there by force of intimidation by Michael to make him recant his testimony? If he'd done that, he'd have taken all the power from Michael, and there'd be a better guarantee of protection for his family because it would have then been understood if anything happened to his brother or other family members, it would have been because of Michael trying to get revenge, so Michael would have to back down and leave him alone.
    • Technically, that'd be hard to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that his brother came by force of intimidation.
    • The original script stated that Frankie's brother Vincenzo was caring for his illegitimate children in Italy. Vincenzo was also from the old-school, and would not have been party to Frankie's cooperation with the investigation into Michael. Vincenzo wasn't there by force— he was there to prevent the tarnishing of the Pentangeli name. Even if Frankie had told the panel of the implied threat, there's no guarantee American law enforcement could have done anything to protect his children. Telling the panel what was going on may have doomed them even worse. If he tells them, they might not be able to do anything and his children have a higher chance of being killed. If he doesn't tell them and backs down, they'll be taken care of but his own life will be worthless. He picked the more selfless option.
    • The video game adaptation had Vincenzo go there on his own free will specifically to stop Frank from testifying.
  • I know it's a hypothetical because Michael was in exile at the time, but what if he, not Sonny, was the one who checked up on a beaten Connie? Would he retaliate against Carlo? Or would he let it slide?
    • When Michael figured out the truth of Carlo's treachery, he waited. Waited patiently, then had Clemenza strangle him in the car. But if we're referring to the first incident when Sonny beats Carlo in the street, well...let's pretend Michael wasn't in hiding for the Sollozzo / McCluskey assassination. At this stage in his life, Michael is very different from the man he'll be when he gets back from Italy. The murder of Apollonia changes him in that it hardens him and makes him more cautious. That said, even before his exile, Michael did show signs of being a strategic thinker, being the one who came up with the idea of how to make a unsanctioned cop killing look good for them in the papers. So if it was him who showed up at the apartment, he would have first sent Connie to the compound to ensure she was safe. Michael does not make any rash decisions nor does he let anything slide, so he would have patiently determined a way to put Carlo in a situation where he would have voluntarily sought forgiveness from Connie and the family for his actions, and if necessary, sanction a hit on Carlo.
  • Sollozzo came to Don Corleone and asked his help in the narcotics business. Sollozzo wanted 2 million in finance, but mainly, he needed Vito's political contacts. Vito's influence would ensure Sollozzo's couriers would get light sentences following their arrests. But killing Vito also kills any chance for political influence. After the Don was gunned down, Sollozzo kidnapped Tom Hagen, and wanted Hagen to convince Sonny to accept the very deal that the Don had refused. But only Vito had the political contacts. It was said several times, in the books, that without the Don half of the family's power was gone. Killing the Don could do nothing to help Sollozzo.
    • The politicians were not owned by Vito based on personal relationships per se, rather through payments and/or leverage/blackmail by the Corleone family. Certainly The Godfather's personal presence meant a lot but if he was gone Sollozzo could establish them on his own and leverage the remaining Corleone influence. Also of note is any attempt by Sollozzo to procure these political contacts on his own would not be looked upon favorably by Vito. Vito was fundamentally opposed to Family support of the drug trade because he felt public opposition to it risked jeopardizing their entire operation (gambling, prostitution, numbers). "As long as your interests do not conflict with mine." Sonny did not share the same fundamental objection.
    • Killing Vito isn't the ideal situation, but Sollozzo's attempts on his life came about due to what he observed in the initial meeting: Sonny showed interest in the drug trade. Had Sonny not done so it's possible Sollozzo may not have attempted the hit on the Don and he would have proceeded with the plan with Barzini and Tattaglia. The reason why he went ahead and attempted the hits was because he figured that if Vito was dead, Sonny would become head of the Corleone Family, and would have to go along with the drug trade BECAUSE the Corleone's political strength would have been weakened. Would Sonny have hated Sollozzo? Yes, totally. But Sollozzo felt that 1) Tom Hagen, ever the pragmatist, would do his best to keep Sonny's temper in check, and 2) he could avoid situations where Sonny could take revenge on him.

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