The 20 Best Scenes in The Godfather Trilogy

7. “Hail Mary” The Death of Fredo Corleone from The Godfather

The Death of Fredo Corleone from The Godfather

After the death of their mother, Michael says he forgives his brother, Fredo, for his action involves the attempted murder of Michael at his home.

It is a lie.

Fredo is set to take Michael’s son and Corleone goon, Al Neri, on a small fishing trip on the lake at their home. His son is called back at the last minute leaving just the two men for the trip.

The scene is cut with the arrival and assassination of Corleone family business partner, Hyman Roth, in Florida and the discovery of Frank Pentangeli’s body in a bathtub after slitting his wrists.

You hear Fredo reciting the “Hail Mary” verse as the shot cuts back to Michael when we hear the shot that ends Fredo’s life.

Michael must have been conflicted over ordering the death of his brother; however, he never forgot and made due on his promise.

This was an event that would haunt Michael the rest of his life.


6. Vito murders Don Fanucci from The Godfather Part II

Vito murders Don Fanucci from The Godfather Part II

The young Vito Corleone has made a name for himself with business partners Peter Clemenza and Salvatore Tessio, but have now peaked the attention of local boss, Don Fanucci. Vito had already lost his job due to his former boss having to hire Fanucci’s nephew. Vito becomes annoyed when Fanucci demands payoffs. His partners want to pay the full amount he is asking for; however, Vito says he can “convince” him to take a smaller amount.

Subsequently, Vito follows Fanucci along the rooftops of New York as Fanucci participates in an outdoor parade celebration waiting for his opportunity to strike.

When Fanucci returns to his apartment, Vito is waiting and shoots Fanucci having paid his back in his own way.
Through this action Vito begins his ascent to becoming a local crime lord himself and head of his neighborhood.
It is an important scene and the best scene for Robert De Niro in the film.


5. Vito murders Don Ciccio from The Godfather Part II

Michael shoots Sollozzo and McCluskey from The Godfather

It is a full circle moment as a fully grown Vito Corleone returns to Sicily and is reintroduced to an aging Don Ciccio, the man who murdered his father, mother and brother.

He has come to ask for the Don’s blessing for his budding olive oil business with partner, Don Tommasino.

Vito wastes no time after meeting Ciccio to exact his long-in-coming revenge. Ciccio asks him who is father was and Vito replies:

“My father’s name was Antonio Andolini… and this is for you.”

He kills Ciccio by slicing across his belly. At last, the murder of his family has been avenged.

A very important moment for Vito as this lengthy burden and vendetta is now behind him.


4. Michael shoots Sollozzo and McCluskey from The Godfather

Michael shoots Sollozzo and McCluskey from The Godfather

After Vito is wounded, Michael and Tom discuss the reaction they should take against Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo. Michael has a run in with NYPD Captain Marc McCuskey in which McCuskey punches Michael in the jaw.

In an attempt to resolve their dispute, Michael meets the two men in a restaurant after it had been decided Michael will murder the two men. He is given instruction by the family how to handle the situation and what he should do before, during and after the murders.

After returning from the restroom, Michael commits his crimes and exits the restaurant as planned.

This is an extremely pivotal scene with the development of Michael being involved in the family “business” and his brutality coming out of him.

He willfully plots and engages in proposed violence just like the rest of the Corleone family. This is quite the turnaround from the beginning of the film where he admonishes his family’s actions.


3. “I know it was you Fredo” from The Godfather Part II

“I know it was you Fredo” from The Godfather Part II

While in Cuba celebrating New Year’s Eve and meeting with prospective business partners, Michael attempts to assassinate Hyman Roth, but Roth survives. Michael’s hitman is killed.

Michael confronts Fredo and accuses him through this line of being aware and involved in the assassination attempt at Michael’s home at the beginning of the film. He then tells Fredo he wants him to return to Nevada, so they all return to the United States.

The quote has become infamous. It is hard to believe it is not on the “AFI’S 100 GREATEST MOVIE QUOTES OF ALL TIME”, although it was nominated.

The scene is important in many ways, but it mainly serves warning to Fredo that Michael was aware of his actions against him and they will not be forgotten.


2. Opening scene “I believe in America” from The Godfather

The Godfather (1972)

One of the greatest opening lines in film history, the first scene in the first film tells us so much about the Corleone’s, specifically the role of the “Godfather”.

Associates are continually professing their loyalty, and asking for “favors” to rescue them from any issues they have in their lives.

In this case, a story was being told of an injustice against a young girl after she was taken out and beaten by two men and left for dead. Her jaw was wired shut and could barely speak. The perpetrators of this crime went free, so there was no justice.

The camera starts tight and does a long, slow retreat finally revealing the audience to whom he is speaking as Vito Corleone.

The scene works as mastery of the long, slow pullback and the perfect way to have an actor just reciting dialogue and us as the audience being very interested in the climax.


1. “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”/Horse head scene from The Godfather

Horse head scene from The Godfather

After Vito’s godson and family friend, Johnny Fontane, reveals casting has been completed on an important film role he was hoping for, he tells Vito he has been assured by the film’s producer, Jack Woltz, he will not receive the role.

Vito vows to assist thinking he can persuade the producer by any means necessary. He sends family lawyer, Tom Haden, to “convince” Woltz to change his mind.

Woltz is disrespectful to Tom until he figures out he is part of the Corleone family. He then invites Tom to dinner, and shows Tom his stables and prized stallions.

He still refuses and throws Tom out. He awakens the next day having blood all over his hands. He pulls back the sheets only to discover the severed head of his top-prized horse laying on the bed next to him. He screams in horror.

The most memorable scene in any of the “Godfather” movies not only because of its shock value, but also due to its showing the Corleone’s leave no stone unturned or will stop at nothing to serve the interests of those under their protection.

The line “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Is currently #2 on the “AFI’S 100 GREATEST MOVIE QUOTES OF ALL TIME” second only to Rhett Butler.

After watching the “Godfather” films again recently, they are confirmed as one of the most loved and enduring trilogies of all time and a school in filmmaking, screenwriting and acting which should never be forgotten.

Author Bio: Andy Kubica is a life-long cinephile. Having spend time as a video store manager, movie theater manager and the first DVD buyer for a former rental chain he now spends every waking moment reducing his film “bucket list”.