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The Godfather (1972

The Godfather is a 1972 crime film based on the novel of the same name by Mario Puzo and
directed by Francis Ford Coppola, with screenplay by Puzo and Coppola. The film stars
Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton and James Caan. The story spans
ten years from late 1945 to 1955 and chronicles the life of the Corleone crime family.

The Godfather was initially ranked as the third greatest film in American cinematic history
(behind Citizen Kane and Casablanca) on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies list by the American
Film Institute. It has now been re-ranked number two under Citizen Kane, with number three
being Casablanca. It is also the top movie on Internet Movie Database's Top 250 list, as well
as Metacritic's top 100 list and Rotten Tomatoes' all-time best list.

Two sequels followed, The Godfather Part II in 1974 and The Godfather Part III in 1990.
The film begins at the wedding of Don Vito Corleone's daughter Connie to Carlo Rizzi in
New York City in late summer of 1945. Because "no Sicilian can refuse a request on his
daughter's wedding day", Corleone, known to his friends and associates as "Godfather", and
Tom Hagen (the Corleone family consigliere, or counselor) are preoccupied with hearing
requests from friends and associates. Meanwhile, the Don's youngest son Michael, who has
returned from World War II service as a highly decorated war hero, tells his girlfriend Kay
Adams anecdotes about his father's criminal life, reassuring her that he is not like his family.

Among the guests at the celebration is the famous singer Johnny Fontane, Corleone's godson,
who has come from Hollywood to petition the Godfather's help in landing a movie role that
will revitalize his flagging career. Jack Woltz, the head of the studio, will not give Fontane
the part, but Don Corleone explains to Johnny: "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse." Hagen
is dispatched to California to fix the problem, but Woltz angrily tells him that he will never
cast Fontane in the role, for which he is perfect, because Fontane seduced and "ruined" a
starlet that Woltz favored. The next morning, Woltz wakes up to find the bloody severed head
of his prize stud horse in the bed with him.

Upon Hagen's return, the family meets with heroin dealer Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo, who is
being backed by the rival Tattaglia family. He asks Don Corleone for political and legal
protection, as well as financing to start the mass importation and distribution of heroin, but
despite the huge amount of money to be made, Corleone refuses, explaining that his political
influence would be jeopardized by a move into the narcotics trade. The Don's oldest son,
hotheaded Sonny, who had earlier expressed to the Don his support of the family entering
into the narcotics trade, breaks ranks during the meeting and questions Sollozzo's assurances
as to the Corleone Family's investment being guaranteed by the Tattaglia Family. His father,
angry at Sonny's dissension in front of a non-family member, later privately rebukes him.
Don Corleone then dispatches his aide, Luca Brasi, to infiltrate Sollozzo's organization and
report back with information.

Soon after Don Corleone's refusal, he is shot several times in an assassination attempt at a
local market. It is not publicly known whether he survived. Meanwhile, Sollozzo and the
Tattaglias kill Luca Brasi. Sollozzo then abducts and persuades Tom Hagen to offer Sonny
the deal previously offered to his father. Sollozzo reasons that Sonny is more amenable to the
deal than was his father, and that with Don Corleone out of the way, Sonny will accept the
deal. Enraged, Sonny refuses to consider the deal, promising a war with the Tattaglias and

Michael, who is considered a "civilian" (not involved in the mob business) by the other mafia
families and therefore able to live a more normal life, visits his father in the hospital. He is
immediately shocked to find that there are no police officers or Corleone Family men
guarding him. Realizing that his father is again being set up to be killed, he calls Sonny with
a report, then moves his father to another room. He then goes outside to watch the door. With
the help of an overwhelmed Enzo (the baker), who feels indebted to the Don, he bluffs away
Sollozzo's men. Police cars soon arrive with the corrupt Captain McCluskey, who breaks
Michael's jaw after he insinuates that McCluskey is being paid by Sollozzo to set up his
father. Just then, Hagen shows up with "private detectives" licensed to carry guns to protect
Don Corleone, and takes Michael home.

Following the attempt on the Don's life at the hospital, Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey,
who is acting as Sollozzo's bodyguard, request a meeting with Michael under the auspices of
ameliorating their differences. Michael volunteers to kill both men during the meeting, which
initially amuses Sonny and the other senior members of the Corleone family, with Sonny
admonishing him for reacting too personally and emotionally. However, Michael convinces
them that killing Sollozo and McCluskey is in the family's interest ("It's not personal. It's
strictly business."). The meeting between Michael and Sollozzo, with McCluskey attending,
is arranged at a quiet, local restaurant, as requested by Michael so he will "feel safe". Michael
excuses himself to go to the restroom, retrieves a planted revolver, and assassinates Sollozzo
and McCluskey with near-point-blank-range shots to the head. To avoid his arrest for the
murders, Michael is sent to Sicily while the Corleone family prepares for all-out warfare with
the rest of the Five Families, who unite against the Corleones, as well as a general
clampdown on the mob by the police and government authorities.

While in Sicily, Michael lives under the protection of Don Tommasino, an old friend of the
family. While there, he falls in love with and marries a local girl, Apollonia, who is
subsequently murdered during an attempt on Michael's life.

Meanwhile, back in New York, Don Corleone returns home from the hospital and is
distraught to learn that Michael was the one who killed Sollozzo and McCluskey. Some
months later, in 1948, Sonny severely beats Carlo for brutalizing the expectant Connie, and
threatens to kill Carlo the next time he abuses her. The next time Carlo beats her, Sonny
drives off alone to fulfill his threat. On the way, he is ambushed and Tommy-gunned to death
at the causeway tollbooth.

Instead of seeking revenge for Sonny's killing, Don Corleone meets with the heads of the
Five Families to arrange an end to the war. Not only is it draining all of their assets and
threatening their survival, but ending the conflict is the only way that Michael can return
home safely. Reversing his previous decision, Vito agrees that the Corleone family will
provide political protection for Philip Tattaglia's traffic in heroin. At the meeting, Don
Corleone realizes that Don Barzini, not Tattaglia, was responsible for the mob war and
Sonny's death.

With his safety guaranteed, Michael returns from Sicily. More than a year later, he reunites
with his former girlfriend, Kay, telling her that he wants to marry her. With the Don semi-
retired, Sonny dead and middle brother Fredo considered incapable of running the family
business, Michael is now in charge, and he claims that the family business will soon be
completely legitimate.
Clemenza and Tessio, two Corleone Family caporegimes (captains) complain that they are
being pushed around by the Barzini Family and ask permission to strike back, but Michael
refuses. With his father as consigliere, he plans to move the family operations to Nevada and
after that, Clemenza and Tessio may break away to go on their own. Michael further promises
that Connie's husband, Carlo, is going to be his right hand in Nevada, while Hagen will be the
Family's Las Vegas lawyer.

In Las Vegas Michael is greeted by Fredo in the hotel-casino partly financed by the
Corleones, and run by Moe Greene. Michael explains to Johnny Fontane that the Family
needs his help in persuading Johnny's friends in show business to sign long-term contracts to
appear at the casino. In a meeting with Moe Greene, Michael offers to buy out Greene but is
rudely rebuffed. Greene believes the Corleones are weak and that he can secure a better deal
from Barzini.

Michael returns home. In a private meeting, Vito explains his expectation that the Family's
enemies will attempt to kill Michael by using a trusted associate to arrange a meeting as a
pretext for assassination. Shortly afterwards, Don Vito dies of a heart attack while playing
with his young grandson in his orange garden.

During the funeral, Tessio conveys a proposal for a meeting with Barzini, which identifies
him as the traitor that Vito was expecting. Michael arranges the murders of Moe Greene,
Philip Tattaglia, Emilio Barzini, Anthony Stracci, and Carmine Cuneo, all to take place
during the baptism of Connie's and Carlo's second son, for whom he will be godfather. After
the baptism, Tessio believes he and Michael are on their way to meet with Barzini. But
instead, he is taken away by Willie Cicci and other buttonmen to be killed. Michael confronts
Carlo about Sonny's murder and tricks him into admitting his role in setting up the ambush.
"Today", Michael tells him, "I settle all Family business." Michael informs Carlo that his
punishment is to be excluded from the family business and hands him a plane ticket to exile
in Nevada. Carlo gets into a car to go to the airport, and is garroted by Clemenza.

Later, Connie confronts Michael, accusing him of Carlo's murder. Kay questions Michael
about Connie's accusation, but he refuses to answer. She insists, and Michael lies, assuring
his wife that he had no role in Carlo's death. Kay is relieved by his denial. As the film ends,
she watches Clemenza and new caporegime Rocco Lampone pay their respects to Michael,
kissing his hand and addressing him as "Don Corleone." The door is closed by new capo Al
Neri, as she realizes that Michael has become the new Godfather.