Unforgettable Lines: The Top 19 Quotes from The Godfather


After 50 years, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 American crime film The Godfather still ranks high among the greatest gangster films ever.

You almost can’t sit at a dinner table without at least one person pretending to be Don Corleone and pulling a quote from the Godfather franchise.

Here are what I think are the best quotes from The Godfather.

19. “I believe in America. America has made my fortune. And I raised my daughter in the American fashion.”

Before the first shot of The Godfather appears, we hear the voice of Amerigo Bonasera inviting us into the world of Italian immigrants bringing their families to the United States. 

The dark turn of his hopeful life foreshadows the ruthless pursuit of “the American Dream” as the foundation for the underworld of corruption, greed, and deceit that surround Mafia families like the Corleones.

18. “Goddamn FBI don’t respect nothin’.”

Enter Santilo Corleone (James Caan), Don Vito’s reckless, hot-headed son. Right off the bat, it’s apparent that he has no respect for authority, unlike his lawyer, Army, and timid brothers. 

This sentence establishes that Sonny’s attitude will be a gift and curse for the organized crime family. 

17. “Don Corleone, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your daughter… ‘s wedding… on the day of your daughter’s wedding. And I hope their first child be a masculine child. I pledge my ever-ending loyalty.”

Michael Corleone’s (Al Pacino) girlfriend notices a giant man at the wedding rehearsing a phrase repeatedly, and we learn he’s none other than Luca Brasi, the unwavering muscle of Don Vito Corleone.

Unlike other questionable guests taking advantage of “the day of [his] daughter’s wedding,” Luca’s attention to custom acknowledges that he will never catch him slipping and disrespecting Don Vito Corleone.

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

When Michael flees to Sicily to hide from American authorities, he travels back to the roots of his family and culture.

It’s here that Caló (Franco Citti), a shepherd of his father’s associate and Michael’s bodyguard, imparts some knowledge to Michael, reminding him that things work a little differently in the Sicilian countryside than in America’s backstreets.

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

His growing compassion shaped the path to Don Vito’s downfall as he became an old grandfather and sought harmony amongst all warring families, even after the slaughter of his son.

If you pay close attention, a pivotal moment in this conversation shows Don Vito’s way with words claiming “accurate quote,” alluding to his plan to pass the torch of retaliation to Michael.

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

Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) is the adopted son of the Corleone family, apparent in his job as a lawyer and his diplomatic approach to family problems.

But Tom understands what must be done, and he wastes no time “beating a dead horse” when he realizes that Jack Woltz will not cooperate with his father’s demands.

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

Virgil Sollozzo (Al Lettieri) was smooth with his threats to the Corleone family, disguising his intentions with Tom Hagen as if he ultimately wanted peace.

Sollozzo’s one true goal was to fund his drug business, and he would do whatever it took to start his business.

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

It’s made clear in the beginning that Fredo Corleone (John Cazale) is a little slower than the rest of his brothers and is not involved in all the Family’s dealings.

When Michael fails to buy out Moe Greene, Fredo foolishly defends him over his brother, and Michael quickly tells him never to make that mistake again.

11. “Bonasera, Bonasera, what have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you’d come to me in friendship, this scum who ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by some chance an honest man like yourself made enemies, they would become my enemies. And then, they would fear you.”

In the earliest moments of The Godfather, it’s not apparent how the mob family’s hierarchy and practices play out until we witness the banter between the funeral director, Bonasera, and Don Vito Corleone. 

Despite their acquaintanceship, Don Vito lets Bonasera know that there’s an order to things, and if he follows the tradition, he will be in the mob boss’ pocket.

10. “It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”

Until this point, it appeared that Don Vito and the Corleone family held the upper hand against the other families, especially since he had the gargantuan Luca Brasi on his side.

The audience was aware of Luca’s demise, so when the fish wrapped in Luca’s bulletproof vest arrived, the tables turned. Now, Don Vito receives the threats and does not send them.

9. “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.”

Sonny Corleone is a wild one, and without his father always there to reel him in, he would go off the handle and cause many problems for the Family.

8. “It’s an old habit. I spent my whole life trying not to be careless. Women and children can afford to be careless, but not men.”

Don Vito Corleone is all about the pomp and circumstance of the mafia lifestyle. He gives respect and demands ultimate respect. The only people who are allowed to have a pass are women and children.

These words are important because they explain the grace he provides in his relationship with his adult children.

7. “Only don’t tell me you’re innocent. Because it insults my intelligence and makes me very angry.”

In the final moments of The Godfather, we discover that Michael inherited every quality of his father and siblings— the undeniable wits and the cold vengeance. Michael was always aware of Carlo’s betrayal and waited until the most opportune moment to address it.

Don Michael Corleone’s dark turn into a merciless mob boss left no stone unturned. Everyone learns he is not as peaceful as his father or as reckless as his brother Sonny.

Not even the Family is safe from Michael’s wrath if they wrong the entire Family.

6. “Hey, whaddya gonna do, nice college boy, eh? Didn’t want to get mixed up in the Family business, huh? Now you wanna gun down a police captain. Why? Because he slapped ya in the face a little bit? Hah? What do you think this is the Army, where you shoot ’em a mile away? You’ve gotta get up close like this and – bada-BING! – you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit. C’mere…”

Sonny teases his little brother, who usually follows the rules. While Michael’s plan might work, everyone, especially Santino Corleone, underestimates him. But Don Vito warns everyone that it was the most brilliant move to be in this position.

5. “Times have changed. It’s not like the Old Days when we can do anything we want. A refusal is not the act of a friend. If Don Corleone had all the judges, and the politicians in New York, then he must share them, or let us others use them. He must let us draw the water from the well. Certainly, he can present a bill for such services; after all… we are not Communists.”

Virgil Sollozo and Philip Tattaglia were seen as the primary antagonists of the Corleone family until Emilio Barzini (Richard Conte) made this statement at the meeting of the five families.

Everything Barzini says echoes the words of his previous enemies, letting him know it was the more competent and cold-blooded Barzini behind the betrayal all along.

4. “Some people will pay a lot of money for that information; but then your daughter would lose a father, instead of gaining a husband.”

By now, Michael has fully assimilated into the Sicilian countryside, seeking to return to romance’s normalcy and raise a family.

He presents Apollonia’s father, his first wife, with “an offer” in the most sinister way for an audience with his daughter.

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

Michael Corleone is not like the rest of his family. He’s a respectable veteran who understands right and wrong.

However, he’s no fool, and his loyalty to his father and brothers leads him to justify their actions by comparing them to politicians and logical comparison since many politicians are in Don Vito’s pocket.

Kay’s (Diane Keaton) naive questioning starts in the film’s first scene and remains a theme throughout— proving that she has no idea what’s in store for her future with the son of a mob boss.

Michael and Kay’s exchange is priceless:

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

Kay Adams: Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don’t have men killed.

Michael: Oh. Who’s being naive, Kay?

2. “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”

Before Peter Clemenza (Richard Castellano) leaves the house to “deal with Paulie,” his wife tells him not to forget to bring the cannoli.

Once they “take care” of the traitorous Paulie, Clemenza proves just how ruthless yet responsible and loyal he can be, treating the moment like any ordinary husband’s trip to the grocery store.

1. “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

One of the most iconic lines in film history is repeated multiple times by Don Vito Corleone when explaining to men asking for his help how he will solve their problems.

Before the words leave Don Corleone’s mouth, his son Michael gives us an idea of what these particular offers look like and explains how his father helped Johnny Fontane become famous.

What do these types of offers look like?

“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.” – Michael Corleone

Now, I’ll give you an offer you can’t refuse. 

Either agree 100% with my ranking or leave a comment and tell me your favorite quote.

Up Next: Easter Eggs in Movies You Might Have Missed

2 thoughts on “Unforgettable Lines: The Top 19 Quotes from The Godfather”

  1. When one of the copas in the meeting says that in his community they market drugs to the colored people who are “animals” and can “lose their souls” it’s heartbreaking.

    • Yeah, that would be Joseph Zaluchi… Don of the Detroit’s Zaluchi family. At least he wants to keep it out of schools – I guess that’s mob moral for you :S


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