"I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse."
Description: The now classic veiled threat of Marlon Brando when he played the Mafia Don Vito Corleone in the Oscar winning movie The Godfather (1972.
On the day of his daughter's wedding, mafia boss Don Corleone is the recipient of many congratulations and a few request that only he can oblige.
When 1940s singer Johnny Fontane (Al Martino) a “good Godson” of Don Corleone expresses a deep interest in starring in a Hollywood war film being produced by movie big shot Jack Woltz (John Marley), the Godfather tells Johnny, “He’s a businessman. I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
Don Vito then sends his emissary Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) to offer the Don’s undying friendship, if Woltz could do this favor. But Mr. Woltz, who holds a grudge against Johnny Fontane for messing around with one of his starlets, refuses the Godfather’s request saying,
“Now you listen to me, you smooth talking son-of-a-bitch! Let me lay it on the line for you and your boss, whoever he is. Johnny Fontane will never get that movie! I don't care how many dago guinea wop greaseball goombahs come out of the woodwork!”
Soon after, Mr. Woltz wakes one morning to find the decapitated head of his $600,000 race horse (Khartoum) sharing the blood stained satin sheets of his bed. Not surprisingly, Johnny Fontane gets a call to report to work on the film.
The incident with the horse's head is but one of many extreme examples of graphic violence and retribution as when Santino ‘Sonny’ Corleone (James Caan) says, “They hit us. So we hit them back.” Later, when Sonny Corleone rushes to the home of his sister to protect her from an abusive husband, he is shot to death at a causeway tollbooth by a hail of machine gun bullets.
When Don Vito Corleone sends wiseguy Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) to snoop around the Tattaglia family, one thug pins Luca’s left hand to a tavern countertop with a knife while another man chokes him to death with a cord. Later, the Corleone family receives a fish bundled in a newspaper. This is the Sicilian message: “Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”
Retaliating for the assassination attempt on the life of Don Corleone who is shot in the streets at a neighborhood produce stand, Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) kills mobster Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo (of the Tarttaglia family) and a crooked police commissioner McCluskey during a meeting at the Louis Italian restaurant.
Later, after Don Corleone recuperates from the assassination attempt, he meets with a group of 1940s mobsters (a council of the five families) who discuss the possibility of getting into the illegal drug trade. Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is against the idea (although gambling, liquor and prostitution are acceptable).
In deference to Don Corleone, one of the mobsters recognizes the dangers of drugs but consoles him by saying, he would only sell to the "dark people, the coloreds...They’re animals anyway. So let them lose their souls."
Before he leave the meeting, Don Corleone pleads for the safety of his son, Michael who is about to return to America after the Sollozzo killings.. Some members or the council object, asking how can they guarantee Michael's safety, but Don Corleone warns:
"You talk about vengeance. Is vengeance going to bring your son back to you or my boy to me? I forgo 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 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."
With the death of Vito Corleone, a gruesome list of killings are initiated by the new Godfather Don Michael Corleone who ironically is attending the baptism of his sister’s baby, where he answers, “Yes” to the question “Do you renounce the devil?” Throughout the film the Corleone family members made it very clear that their violent actions are “not personal.” They are “strictly business.”
In the sequel The Godfather II (1974) G. D. Spradlin as U. S. Senator Geary shares his utter contempt for Mafia Don Michael Corleone (Al Pacino):
“I don’t like your kind of people. I don’t like to see you come out to this clean country in—oily hair, and dressed up in those silk suits, and try to pass yourselves off as decent Americans...I despise your masquerade—the dishonest way your pose yourself, and your fucking family.”
For insulting the Corleone family, the Senator is framed for the murder of a prostitute and then blackmailed to help the Corleone family get a gaming license for their casino.
Michael Corleone later renounces his brother Fredo (John Cazale) for betraying the family's interests, saying, "Fredo, you’re nothing to me now. You’re not a brother, you’re not a friend. I don't want to know you or what you do. I don't want to see you at the hotels; I don't want you near my house. When you see our mother, I want to know a day in advance, so I won't be there. You understand?"
Later, while visiting Cuba to meet with Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg), Michael Corleone learning of Fredo's latest betrayal, cups his hand around the face of his brother, firmly plants a kiss on his lips, and says, "I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart." Michael then waits until his mother dies (in respect for her feelings) and has Fredo killed while fishing in a boat on a lake.
Note: The "Kiss of Death" as delivered by Don Michael Corleone to his brother Fredo is a traditional Mafia (aka “Cosa Nostra“) method of informing an opponent that his days were numbered. The kiss on the lips can be both a warning to get something done (i.e., pay your debts or else) or a disingenuous means of informing someone that their life would soon end.
Reportedly, mob leader Vito Genovese gave Joe Valachi a simple "kiss of affection" while both were serving time in a Federal penitentiary in Atlanta. Valachi, thinking his death was imminent became an informer to the FBI to gain protection from the underworld.
The motion picture The Valachi Papers (1972) from the book by Peter Maas tells the story of Mafia life as seen through the eyes of famed informer Joseph Valachi (played by Charles Bronson).
According to the Mafia Encyclopedia, in 1931 mobster Lucky Luciano "ordered the act (of kissing) stopped even as a form of greeting when Mafiosi met. Such public acts...might strike terror in the hearts of Sicilian peasants but were counterproductive in the United States."