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The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on his crime syndicate stretching from Lake Tahoe, Nevada to pre-revolution 1958 Cuba.
Michael Corleone: My father taught me many things here - he taught me in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.
Michael Corleone: I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart!
Michael Corleone: If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.
Vito Corleone: I make him an offer he don' refuse. Don' worry.
Kay Corleone: Oh, Michael. Michael, you are blind. It wasn't a miscarriage. It was an abortion. An abortion, Michael. Just like our marriage is an abortion. Something that's unholy and evil. I didn't want your son, Michael! I wouldn't bring another one of you sons into this world! It was an abortion, Michael! It was a son Michael! A son! And I had it killed because this must all end! [Michael's eyes begin to bulge] Kay Corleone: I know now that it's over. I knew it then. There would be no way, Michael... no way you could ever forgive me not with this Sicilian thing that's been going on for 2,000 years. [Michael loses control. He slaps Kay across the face. She falls onto the couch] Michael Corleone: Bitch! You won't take my children! Kay Corleone: I will. Michael Corleone: You WON'T TAKE MY CHILDREN! Kay Corleone: They're my children too.
Michael Corleone: I don't feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom. Just my enemies.
Hyman Roth: There was this kid I grew up with; he was younger than me. Sorta looked up to me, you know. We did our first work together, worked our way out of the street. Things were good, we made the most of it. During Prohibition, we ran molasses into Canada... made a fortune, your father, too. As much as anyone, I loved him and trusted him. Later on he had an idea to build a city out of a desert stop-over for GI's on the way to the West Coast. That kid's name was Moe Greene, and the city he invented was Las Vegas. This was a great man, a man of vision and guts. And there isn't even a plaque, or a signpost or a statue of him in that town! Someone put a bullet through his eye. No one knows who gave the order. When I heard it, I wasn't angry; I knew Moe, I knew he was head-strong, talking loud, saying stupid things. So when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we've chosen; I didn't ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business!
[about the unrest in Cuba] Michael Corleone: I saw a strange thing today. Some rebels were being arrested. One of them pulled the pin on a grenade. He took himself and the captain of the command with him. Now, soldiers are paid to fight; the rebels aren't. Hyman Roth: What does that tell you? Michael Corleone: They could win.
[Vito returns years later to Sicily and meets Don Ciccio, the man who murdered Vito's family] Don Ciccio: I see you took the name of the town. What was your father's name? Vito Corleone: Antonio Andolini. Don Ciccio: You'll have to speak up. I can't hear you Vito Corleone: My father's name was Antonio Andolini... and this is for you. [stabs him]
Michael Corleone: Fredo, you're nothing to me now. You're not a brother, you're not a friend. I don't want to know you or what you do. I don't want to see you at the hotels, I don't want you near my house. When you see our mother, I want to know a day in advance, so I won't be there. You understand?
Fredo Corleone: I'm your older brother, Mike, and I was stepped over! Michael Corleone: That's the way Pop wanted it. Fredo Corleone: It ain't the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I'm smart! Not like everybody says... like dumb... I'm smart and I want respect!
Michael Corleone: [discussing the incident regarding the two unknown gunmen who fired through Michael's bedroom window earlier] In my home. Frank Pentangeli: Michael, when I heard I almost died... Michael Corleone: [yells] IN MY HOME! IN MY BEDROOM! Where my wife sleeps... and my children play with their toys.
[during the play 'Senza Mamma'] Genco Abbandando: Vito, how do you like my little angel? Isn't she beautiful? Vito Corleone: She's very beautiful. To you, she's beautiful. For me, there's only my wife and son.
[Geary is demanding a large bribe for a gaming license] Senator Pat Geary: I want your answer and the money by noon tomorrow. And one more thing. Don't you contact me again, ever. From now on, you deal with Turnbull. Michael Corleone: Senator? You can have my answer now, if you like. My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.
Senator Pat Geary: I despise your masquerade, the dishonest way you pose yourself. You and your whole fucking family. Michael Corleone: We're both part of the same hypocrisy, senator, but never think it applies to my family.
Michael Corleone: C'mon Frankie... my father did business with Hyman Roth, he respected Hyman Roth. Frank Pentangeli: Your father did business with Hyman Roth, he respected Hyman Roth... but he never *trusted* Hyman Roth!
Vito Corleone: [in Italian] Do me this favor. I won't forget it. Ask your friends in the neighborhood about me. They'll tell you I know how to return a favor.
Tom Hagen: When a plot against the Emperor failed... the plotters were always given a chance... to let their families keep their fortunes. Right? Frank Pentangeli: Yeah, but only the rich guys, Tom. The little guys got knocked off and all their estates went to the Emperors. Unless they went home and killed themselves, then nothing happened. And the families... the families were taken care of. Tom Hagen: That was a good break. A nice deal. Frank Pentangeli: Yeah... They went home... and sat in a hot bath... opened up their veins... and bled to death... and sometimes they had a little party before they did it.
Michael Corleone: Keep 'em alive. Rocco Lampone: We'll try. Michael Corleone: ROCCO! ALIVE!
[Ordering drinks in a Havana cafe] Fredo Corleone: Uno... por favor... [to Michael] Fredo Corleone: How do you say "banana daiquiri"? Michael Corleone: "Banana daiquiri."
Michael: Was it a boy? Tom Hagen: Mikey, after three and a half months... Michael: WHY CAN'T YOU GIVE ME A STRAIGHT ANSWER ANY MORE? WAS IT A BOY?
[while watching a "Punch and Judy" puppet show] Don Fanucci: Oh, this is too violent for me!
Hyman Roth: I'd give four million just to be able to take a piss without it hurting
Tom Hagen: It would be like trying to kill the President; there's no way we can get to him. Michael Corleone: Tom, you know you surprise me. If anything in this life is certain - if history has taught us anything - it's that you can kill *anybody*.
Hyman Roth: If I could only live to see it, to be there with you. What I wouldn't give for twenty more years! Here we are, protected, free to make our profits without Kefauver, the goddamn Justice Department and the F.B.I. ninety miles away, in partnership with a friendly government. Ninety miles! It's nothing! Just one small step, looking for a man who wants to be President of the United States, and having the cash to make it possible. Michael, we're bigger than U.S. Steel.
Michael Corleone: I trust these men with my life, Senator. To ask them to leave would be an insult.
Connie: Michael, I hated you for so many years. I think that I did things to myself, to hurt myself so that you'd know - that I could hurt you. You were just being strong for all of us the way Papa was. And I forgive you. Can't you forgive Fredo? He's so sweet and helpless without you. You need me, Michael. I want to take care of you now.
Michael: I don't want anything to happen to him while my mother's alive.
Michael: I've always taken care of you, Fredo. Fredo Corleone: Taken care of me? You're my kid brother and you take care of me? Did you ever think about that? Hah? Did you ever once that about that?
Fredo Corleone: You know when I was your age, I went out to fishing with all my brothers and my father, and everybody. And I was, I was the only one who caught a fish. Nobody else could catch one except me. You know how I did it? Every time I put the line in the water I said a Hail Mary and every time I said a Hail Mary I caught a fish. You believe that? It's true, that's the secret. You wanna try it when we go out on the lake?
Al Neri: Our friend and associate Hyman Roth is in the news. The High Court of Israel turned down his request to live there as a returning Jew. He landed in Buenos Aires last night offering a "gift" of a million dollars if they'd let him stay. They said no. His passport's been invalidated, except for his return trip to the States. Tom Hagen: He'll try Panama next. Michael Corleone: Panama won't take him. Not for a million, not for ten million.
Frank Pentangeli: Hey, what's with the food around here? A kid comes up to me in a white jacket, gives me a Ritz cracker, and uh, chopped liver, he says, 'Canapes'. I said, uh, 'can of peas, my ass, that's a Ritz cracker and chopped liver!'
Hyman Roth: I'm going in to take a nap. When I wake, if the money's on the table, I'll know I have a partner. If it isn't, I'll know I don't.
Michael Corleone: He was stupid. I was lucky. I will visit him soon.
Michael Corleone: Anthony, I'm going to be leaving very early tomorrow. Anthony Corleone: Will you take me? Michael Corleone: No, I can't. Anthony Corleone: Why do you have to go? Michael Corleone: Because I have to do business. Anthony Corleone: I could help you. Michael Corleone: Someday you will.
[last lines] [flashback - Don Vito Corleone's birthday in 1941] Fredo Corleone, Tom Hagen, Santino, Connie, Salvatore "Sally" Tessio, Theresa Hagen, Carlo Rizzi: Surprise! [singing] Fredo Corleone, Tom Hagen, Santino, Connie, Salvatore "Sally" Tessio, Theresa Hagen, Carlo Rizzi: For he's a jolly good fellow/For he's a jolly good fellow/For he's a jolly good fellow/ Which nobody can deny...
[first lines] Title Card: The godfather was born Vito Andolini, in the town of Corleone in Sicily. In 1901 his father was murdered for an insult to the local Mafia chieftain. His older brother Paolo swore revenge and disappeared into the hills, leaving Vito, the only male heir, to stand with his mother at the funeral. He was nine years old. [gunshots and screams] Woman: [subtitled from Italian] They've killed the boy! They've killed young Paolo! They've killed your son Paolo!
Johnny Ola: Hyman Roth always makes money for his partners. One by one, our old friends are gone. Death, natural or not, prison, deported. Hyman Roth is the only one left, because he always made money for his partners.
Santino: Your country ain't your blood. Remember that.
Hyman Roth: Good health is the most important thing. More than success, more than money, more than power.
[subtitles from Sicilian Italian] Vito Corleone: [picks up baby Michael, kisses him, holds him] Michael, your father loves you very much. Very much.
Senator Pat Geary: Mr. Cici, was there always a buffer involved? Willi Cici: A what? Senator Pat Geary: A buffer. Someone in between you and your possible superiors who passed on to you the actual order to kill someone. Willi Cici: Oh yeah, a buffer. The family had a lot of buffers!
Don Fanucci: Young man, I hear you and your friends are stealing goods. But you don't even send a dress to my house. No respect! You know I've got three daughters. This is my neighborhood. You and your friends should show me some respect. You should let me wet my beak a little. I hear you and your friends cleared $600 each. Give me $200 each, for your own protection. And I'll forget the insult. You young punks have to learn to respect a man like me! Otherwise the cops will come to your house. And your family will be ruined. Of course, if I'm wrong about how much you stole, I'll take a little less. And by less, I only mean - a hundred bucks less. Now don't refuse me. Understand, paisan? Understand, paisan?... Tell your friends I don't want a lot. Just enough to wet my beak. Don't be afraid to tell them!
Kay: It made me think of what you once told me: "In five years the Corleone family will be completely legitimate." That was seven years ago. Michael Corleone: I know. I'm trying, darling.
Tom Hagen: Why do you hurt me, Michael? I've always been loyal to you.
[Kay is threatening to take the children away] Michael: Don't you know that I would use all of my power to prevent something like that from happening?
[Before shooting occurs at the Michael Corleone estate] Kay: Michael, why are the drapes open?
Fredo Corleone: Every time I put my line in the water I said a Hail Mary, and every time I said a Hail Mary I caught a fish.
Senator Pat Geary: You can have the license. The price is $250,000... plus a monthly payment of 5% of the gross... of all four hotels... Mr. Corleone Michael Corleone: Now, the price of the license is less than $20,000. Is that correct? Senator Pat Geary: Yes. Michael Corleone: So why would I ever consider paying more than that? Senator Pat Geary: Because I intend to squeeze you.
Carmine Rosato: We're all very happy about your decision, Frankie. You're not going to regret it! Frank Pentangeli: I don't like this C-note, Rosato. I take that as an insult. Tony Rosato: [wraps a garrote around Pentangeli's neck] Michael Corleone says "Hello"! [drags Pentangeli to a back room and with the help of two "buttonmen" tries to shove him into a closet] Tony Rosato: [shouts] Get his head in! Close the fuckin' door! Carmine Rosato: [a cop walks into the bar] Your friend, the cop, what the f... Policeman: Hey, Rich, it's dark in here. You open or closed? Bartender: Hey, I just came in to clean up a little, you know? What's wrong? Policeman: [noticing Pentangeli] Is that something on the floor? Bartender: [Carmine starts to pull a gun on the officer] Carmine, No! Not here! Not a cop! Let him go! Carmine Rosato: ANTHONY! [as the cop starts to draw his billy club, Tony and the buttonmen run out of the back room and shove the cop into a booth, then grab Carmine and rush him out the door, followed by the cop, his gun drawn] Tony Rosato: [to the policeman] You open your fuckin' mouth, I'll blow your head off! [a gunfight erupts in the street as the Rosato Brothers try to escape]
Hyman Roth: [his last words] I'm a retired investor living on a pension. I came home to vote in the Presidential Election because they wouldn't give me an absentee ballot. [Seconds later, Rocco walks up to Roth and shoots him in the stomach, killing him]
Genco Abbandando: So, what do you think of my angel? Vito Corleone: You're happy, I'm happy.
[Don Ciccio is threatening to kill young Vito] Signora Andolini: But Vito is only nine. And dumb-witted. The child cannot harm you.
Tenor: Mama! Mamma mia!
Michael Corleone: He's has been dying from the same heart attack for the last twenty years.
Frank Pentangeli: I don't - I never knew no godfather. I got my own family, senator.
Frank Pentangeli: Cicc', a porta!
Hyman Roth: This is the business we've chosen.
Hyman Roth: I loved baseball ever since Arnold Rothstien fixed the World Series in 1919.
Senator Pat Geary: [as they're watching the performer at the sex club] Freddie, that thing can't be real. Fredo Corleone: Sure it is. That's why they call him Superman.
Michael Corleone: I'll change; I'll change. I've learned that I have the strength to change.
Kay: I suppose I always knew you were too smart to let any of them ever beat you.
Hyman Roth: What I am saying is, we have now what we have always needed, real partnership with the government.
Hyman Roth: I want all of you to enjoy your cake, so... enjoy.
Hyman Roth: I don't trust a doctor who can hardly speak English.
[flashback] Santino: Whatcha go to college? To get stupid? You're really stupid!
Hyman Roth: Stupid thugs. People behaving like that with guns.
Frank Pentangeli: Those were the great old days,you know... And we was like the Roman Empire... The Corleone family was like the Roman Empire...
[When asked by reporters why he has decided to move to Israel] Hyman Roth: I am a retired investor on a pension, and I wished to live there as a Jew in the twilight of my life.