Everything I Need to Know, I Learned From The Godfather
Oscar nominations were announced last Thursday, which means the Oscar season has officially kicked off, though for me that happens sometime around the announcement of the host. I just get really excited, you guys. Even though I was severely disappointed in the nominations this year, (No Leo?!!?!?!!? AGAIN?!?!!? No Jamie Foxx?! Don’t they know how hot he is, and how great his acceptance speeches are, and oh yeah, what a great performance he gave this year?) that never stops my excitement over the show. At least I always have the past nominations and the thick Oscar history to study as if it were a test to get me into college. What was that test called? Oh my god, I actually can’t remember. How old am I?!
Back in the ol’ 70s, The Godfather was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, (that’s how many Titanic won, the very first year I watched the Oscars!…because of Titanic, obviously) winning three, and causing all kinds of controversy afterward: Al Pacino and Marlon Brando both boycotted the awards, for very different reasons that I will not get into, but google it if you wanna know. If I start rambling, I will never stop and this EINTKILF will be almost as long as The Godfather itself, which is really long, though it is shorter than Titanic.
Ohmygod Jessica, stop. This isn’t about Titanic.
The Godfather II was also nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning six of them. Even the atrocious Godfather III was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning none of them and pretty much just leaving us with the quote: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” Which is what we all thought of that movie, basically.
But, I am a purist and this is not about the sequels to The Godfather, this is about the only movie that has Sonny Corleone, the sexiest character of all-time, in it. (Don’t think I don’t remember the cameo at the end of Part II. Doesn’t count, even if he is wearing his signature thin white tank.) To kick off my EINTKILF The Oscars Posts, let us start with the greatest movie of all-time.
EINTKILF The Godfather
1. Make offers they can’t refuse.
Look, I do not know who the “they” of your life is, but whoever you are trying to negotiate with, whenever you are trying to negotiate with them, just, you know…chop the head off of their $600,000 racing horse and put it in their bed! Who could say no to you after that? That is literally the craziest response anyone could ever have to the word “no,” but you have to be crazy as a loon to work your way to the top, right? Solid advice.
2. Never tell anyone outside of your family what you are thinking.
Early on in the film, we establish the roles of some of our main characters when Santino (the eldest son) asks a question out of line directed toward Virgil Sollozzo in a family meeting discussing whether or not the Corleones would get involved with drugs or not. That is a wordy way of saying, you are not supposed to talk when you should listen, especially in front of your Godfather father, especially to someone your Godfather father does not trust. Sonny, however, acts on his emotions, not on his intelligence, which is first hinted here. Or…first hinted when Sonny smashes that camera on the ground and then throws money at the photographer to replace it at his sister’s wedding. Whichever.
“What’s the matter with you? I think your brain is going soft with all that comedy you are playing with that young girl. Never tell anyone outside the Family what you are thinking again. Go on.” Don Vito, to Sonny
3. Hotheadedness is…hot.
In the entire cinematic history of film, I believe I am most attracted to Sonny Corleone. I know it isn’t okay to do things like smash cameras on the ground, or speak out of line, or yell at poor Tom Hagen, a man who is like a brother to you, or…beat the living daylights out of someone in public, but…I cannot help that I am attracted to ferocity. I am a Leo, for god’s sake, and I am pretty sure Sonny Corleone is, as well.
You think I would learn a lesson from Sonny’s demise, but meh. I cannot be held accountable for who or what I am attracted to.
Hey James Caan, caan I talk to you for a minute? (Get it? Caan?) Why are you so hot? Even as Buddy the Elf’s dad like a million years after The Godfather, you are smoking.
4. Don’t ever side against your family.
Along the same lines as lesson number two, it is very important that you know this. If you ever side against your family, you are pretty much the worst. If someone is saying mean things about your brother or sister and you say nothing about it, if you let them, you are the worst. If you do not stand up for your family, who in the world is going to stand up for them? Fredo, dear, sweet, simple Fredo, does not understand many things about the ways of the world. As Michael, his youngest brother, is rising to Don-level power, Fredo sides with Moe Green, the casino owning snake, against Michael. In front of people. When they are alone, Michael hits him with some stone-coldness, “Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.”
I guess also don’t takes sides with anyone against Al Pacino either. Just to be safe.
5. The difference between Business and Personal.
A main motif in The Godfather is how sometimes things should not be taken personally if they were performed as an act of business. Like, don’t be mad that I killed your son, it had to be done, it wasn’t because I didn’t like the guy. He seemed really nice! That kind of thing. To apply this to your actual life, it is like when you key your ex-boyfriend’s car. Carrie Underwood told you to do it, so you kinda have to, especially if you have been cheated on.
For the record, I have never keyed a car, because I really, really, really love/d my ex’s truck, and hey, I never said I practice what I preach!
6. The definition of “going to the mattresses.”
This phrase is thrown around a bit after Don Vito is shot down (but not killed!) and Sonny is in control. Clemenza, stressed, comments that Sonny is thinkin’ of going to the mattresses already! When I was a kid, I assumed it meant Sonny was thinking of going to sleep, because my mattress was just on the ground as opposed to having an actual bed.
And when I say “was,” I mean “still is.” Hi, I am 25 years old.
Anyway, what it actually means is preparing for a war, assumedly against a rival group. The people who will fight for/with your family sleep on mattresses in creepy, empty apartments to hide out in safety until they are called upon.
Otherwise known as: down ass chicks. Or dudes, whatev.
6b. I would just like to say RIP Luca Brasi, who sleeps with the fishes, which means died. Floated to the bottom of the ocean, sleeping with the fishes. Brasi is an OG.
7. Always have someone else start your car for you.
Ha! Just kidding, that would be super inconvenient. But seriously, I get nervous every time I start someone else’s car, which is anytime I start a car, because I do not own a car of my own. (Hi, I am 25 years old.) Is that weird? Just…a lot of people do not like me, so I am always like, is this car hardwired to kill me?! Then again, I have seen The Godfather a million times, and I also used to play a ton of Grand Theft Auto 3. Yes, I am single, thanks for asking.
Michael’s first wife, the woman he met while hiding out in Sicily, blows up when she starts a car. That is where all this ties in, in case you don’t remember, or have not seen this movie, and in that case, I have literally no idea what you are doing with your life, so.
Favorite quote of the film that I cannot fit anywhere else, so here it is: “In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.” Did you guys know I am Sicilian, and a woman? Better watch out!
8. Settle your grudges.
Don Vito, because he is a fantastic fictional human being, calls a meeting with the heads of all of the main families in the mafia after Sonny’s death. The Don wants to make peace with the families in order to save the lives of the rest of their sons.
“You talk about vengeance. Is vengeance going to bring your son back to you, or my boy to me? I forego the vengeance of my son. But my youngest son had to leave this country because of this Sollozzo business. So now I have to make arrangements to bring him back safely cleared of all these false charges. But I’m a superstitious man, and if some unlucky accident should befall him: if he should be shot in the head by a police officer, or if should hang himself in his jail cell, or if he’s struck by a bolt of lightning…then I’m going to blame some of the people in this room, and that, I do not forgive. But, that aside, let’s say that I swear, on the souls of my grandchildren, that I will not be the one to break the peace we have made here today.”
The only part of the movie that gets me all weepy. Gah, I love a rational man. Not as much as I love an irrational man, but man…I just love men, any of ’em. All of ’em.
For the record, Don Vito does not break his promise of peace. That would be lil’ Don Michael, after his father’s death, who murders all of the people.
9. Do not ask a man about his business, Kay.
After speaking the line, Michael allows Kay, his wife, to ask him about his business, just this once. She asks him if it were true, if he killed Carlo (see number 10), and he denies it. She is relieved, even though he is blatantly lying to her huge face. (Sorry, but Kay’s forehead is huge! She needs some Zooey bangs.) She leaves the room to fix a couple of drinks when three men walk into Michael’s office, kiss his hand and greet him as “Don Corleone.” The door closes, and the look on Kay’s face lets us know that she is aware of his deceit. Movie ends. Bam. Brilliance.
PS JUST KIDDING, YOU ASK WHOEVER YOU WANT ABOUT WHATEVER YOU WANT, KAY. YOU ARE DIANE KEATON, QUEEN OF THE WORLD.
10. Do NOT hit a woman.
Do NOT hit a woman with three brothers.
Do NOT hit a woman with three Sicilian brothers.
Do NOT hit a woman with three Sicilian brothers, one with a really, really bad temper.
Do NOT hit a woman with three Sicilian brothers, one with a really, really bad temper, and one who is a Don.
Do NOT hit a woman.
…even if you think you are slick, Carlo, because YOU ARE NOT SLICK, AND MAYBE YOU GOT SONNY KILLED, BUT YOU GOT YOURS.
“Come on. Don’t be afraid, Carlo. Come on, you think I’d make my sister a widow? I’m Godfather to your son, Carlo.” Michael Corleone, right before killing Carlo.
“The answer is yes, yes I would make my sister a widow, and even lie to her and my wife’s faces about it afterward.” Michael Corleone, I made that quote up.
Fun fact: did you guys know Talia Shire, who plays Connie Corleone in all three Godfathers is Francis Ford Coppola’s sister, Nicolas Cage’s aunt, and Jason Schwartzman‘s mom? Coolest family ever, or what?
Wait, wait. One more.
11. “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man,” and “Never hate your enemies. It clouds your judgment.” So many lessons, so little time!