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"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." ― Vito's most famous quote
Vito Corleone, (born December 7, 1891 - dies July 29, 1955) born as Vito Andolini and also known as Don Corleone and The Godfather, is the titular deuteragonist of Mario Puzo's crime novel, The Godfather and its Best Picture-winning 1972 film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola, as well as its 1974 sequel. His younger self appears in the second film through flashbacks.
Vito was the founder and first head of the Corleone Family and he was a senior Mafia don and a wealthy olive oil business owner. He is the father of Michael, Sonny, Fredo and Connie Corleone. He began as an orphaned Sicilian immigrant who moved to America and built up his Mafia empire, based on crime, gambling, bootlegging and corruption. Despite his role as a crime boss, he is a moral and principled man who is loyal to his family and friends. Upon his death, he is succeeded by his son, Michael, as don of the family.
In the 1972 film adaptation The Godfather, he was portrayed by the late Marlon Brando, and Robert De Niro in Part II.
Why He Rocks
- Both Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro just completely nail their portrayals of the affable mob boss to the point where they just disappear into their character.
- As a mob boss, he's seriously dangerous and powerful like your average crime lord, although what sets him apart is that he's got quite a bit of morals and principles. His very first scene in Part I features an associate going to him on his daughter's wedding day and asking him to kill a pair of men who had severely beaten and attempted to rape his daughter. Vito refused to have the men murdered and then points out that his associate never treated him like a close friend and mainly saw him as a force of nature for vengeance. Although, Vito ends up agreeing to help him anyway, even turning down money for the job and instead simply asking for a favor some day. This shows that Vito is man to be feared, but isn't completely selfish or power hungry.
- He's aware that he's a criminal and his actions were causing serious problems for everyone else in his town, but personally sees his actions as justified and claimed he "refused to be a fool dancing on the strings held by all of those big shots". Considering he was constantly harassed during his childhood and had to deal with other mob bosses such as Don Fanucci and Don Ciccio (the latter of which killed Vito's childhood family) this is partly justifiable.
- Despite being less lethal than various other bosses, there's still a reason he's so well-known in his and our world. For one thing, he had started the crime family from nothing and is an incredible manipulator and planner. After being bullied in his youth by the supposed mafioso Don Fanucci, Vito soon outplayed and disposed of him, becoming a "treasured friend" to the neighborhood who traded favor for favor. Even in his old age, he's the true strength of the Corleone family, who holds most of New York's judges and politicians in his pocket. He had gotten gunned down by the assassins of Virgil Sollozzo (five times!), but Vito still somehow managed to survive and later returned after his eldest son's death, and uses a peace summit to determine who the true mastermind of the war was before making plans so his son Michael will wipe out all the enemies of the family, even after Vito's death.
- He's also a strong family man, as shown various times in both the book and the film where he looks out for his wife and kids as often as possible and would even protect them from any kind of harm coming towards them. He also not only allowed Michael to abandon the family criminal empire, he encouraged it, hoping for his favorite son to go into politics. In fact, one his most famous quotes (aside from the can't refuse offer thing) is: “A man who doesn’t spend time with the family can never be a true man.” Again, it makes sense considering his last family was exterminated by Ciccio and he wouldn't want to lose them again.
- His famous soft-spoken and intimidating voice.
- His death scene in the first film is just a gut-wrenching, emotional, incredibly sad moment. But also very sweet and touching considering he had his grandson and the rest of his family nearby.
- Marlon Brando the actor who portrayed Vito in the first film, won an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1972 (which he had "refused" due to Hollywood's racist portrayal of American-Indians), plus Robert De Niro won an Academy Award for supporting actor for the second film. This makes Vito Corleone the only case of two actors winning an Oscar for playing the same character.