The Wisdom of the Godfather

Like Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince or Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, the screenplay of the Godfather trilogy written by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the brilliant novel by Mario Puzo, is a helpful guide to navigating the treacherous landscape of war, politics, business — and family life. The wisdom of the wise guys, like a good cannoli recipe, is timeless…

“If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it’s that you can kill anyone.”

“Your enemies always get strong on what you leave behind.”

“Someday — and that day may never come — I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as gift on my daughter’s wedding day.”

“In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.”

“Mr. Corleone never asks a second favor once he’s refused the first, understood?”

“You talk about vengeance. Is vengeance going to bring your son back to you? Or my boy to me?”

“My father taught me many things here. He taught me in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

“Never hate your enemies. It clouds your judgment.”

“We’re both part of the same hypocrisy, senator, but never think it applies to my family.”

“Do you spend time with your family? Good. Because a man that doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”

 “Fredo, you’re my older brother and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.”

“Look at what they did to my boy.”

“My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.”

“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”

“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

“A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.”

“I don’t like violence, Tom. I’m a businessman. Blood is a big expense.”

“Never let anyone what you’re thinking.”

“We don’t discuss business at the table.”

“He was stupid. I was lucky. I’ll visit him soon.”

“Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!”

“I spent my whole life trying not to be careless. Women and children can be careless. But not men.”

“What’s the matter with you? Is this what you’ve become, some Hollywood finnochio that cries like a woman?”

“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

Read related post: The Wisdom of the Sopranos

For further reading: Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli: A Wiseguy’s Guide to the Workplace by Kurt Luchs, B&N Books (2003).
The Godfather Legacy by Harlan Lebo, Fireside Books (1997)

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