Is there a bigger conflict in a person’s life than when they must reconcile the family and business sides of themselves? For Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), though, both sides are more interconnected than he’d want or like to admit. The Godfather protagonist struggles with this dilemma as he embarks on a descent into the world of organized crime that was never intended for him in the first place.
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 film brings Michael into contention with everyone from short-tempered mobsters to corrupt cops and difficult family members. All the while, Vito Corleone’s formerly clean-cut son must prove that he is a man who demands respect and that he is a man who can be patient and handle his business. So, if you need to let people know that you also deserve respect and if you need to keep things cool and “strictly business,” try trotting out some of these now-iconic Michael Corleone lines.
“Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.”
Kay (Diane Keaton) hears a story from Michael that gives the sense that his family’s way of carrying out business is a lot more blunt and gorily vivid than she expected. The look of expressionless shock on Kay’s face sets in motion the growing tension between them as Michael falls deeper and deeper down the well of violence.
“It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”
It’s hard to keep emotions out of business when it’s a family-run operation, especially when you’re plotting to kill the police officer and drug dealer who almost had your father murdered. Michael tries to keep his composed demeanor together, yet can’t help but let his revenge-minded anger seep through as he rationalizes making the hit.
“What I want, whats most important to me, is that I have a guarantee no more attempts on my father’s life.”
The same goes for the scene where he finally confronts McCluskey and Sollozzo in the restaurant and has to make his big personal demand to them through gritted teeth. When he can see that this isn’t going like he wanted, Michael’s eyes blare with both frustration and fear that he’ll need to go through with the double murder and lose his innocence forever.
People will pay a lot of money for that information; but then your daughter would lose a father, instead of gaining a husband.”
The lines between both sides continues to blur for Michael even when he takes refuge in Sicily and makes friends with the local Don by asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Michael warns of the danger against their lives if word got out, although unfortunately both men will end up losing a wife and daughter respectively.
“Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again.”
Michael’s stern warning to his brother is the perfect prelude to their broken and tragic relationship in The Godfather Part II. Fredo’s disillusionment with the family is already bubbling up, but if there’s one thing that the Godfather trilogy makes more apparent than anything else, it’s that a man’s loyalty to his family is to be absolutely unquestionably binding.
“Only don’t tell me that you’re innocent. Because it insults my intelligence and it makes me very angry.”