Dirty Laundry

Dirty Laundry

Dirty Laundry

The Godfather was released in theaters nationwide on March 24, 1972. Decades after its release, it remains one of the most revered and quoted films in cinema history.

A Brief History of The Godfather

The 1972 film was based on the novel of the same name, which was released in 1969 and written by Mario Puzo. While the book is a novel, significant parts of it are based on actual people. Notably, Johnny Fontane is based on Frank Sinatra, and, of course, the “Five Families” are based on the actual five Mafia families of New York City.

The New York Times notes Paramount Pictures bought the film rights to The Godfather for $80,000. The outlet states, “Mr. Puzo actually sold his book for $10,000 to Paramount on the strength of an outline and two or three chapters. Escalator clauses eventually brought the price up to $80,000.”

Puzo co-wrote the film screenplay with Francis Ford Coppola, who also directed the film. Anchored by Marlon Brando, The Godfather featured an all-star, before-they-were-superstars cast of Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte and Diane Keaton.

Simply put: The film was a massive hit, both commercially and critically. According to Box Office Mojo, the film was made on a budget of $6 million. It ended up grossing $250 million worldwide. Once you adjust for inflation, that’s the equivalent of $1.87 billion in 2024.

Critically speaking, The Godfather was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. It ended up winning three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando) and Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s also been named to several “Best Of” lists from the American Film Institute. Additionally, the classic film was added to the United States National Film Registry in 1990. Films added to the registry are considered “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

In honor of its anniversary, here are ten classic lines from The Godfather.

(WARNING: Some NSFW content ahead)

  • 'It's strictly business'

    The way Michael is laughed at, particularly by Sonny, is remarkable, especially considering his eventual rise within the Corleone family. What a scene! (By the way: Just used to us implying that. There isn’t a wasted scene in The Godfather. All of them are incredible.)

  • 'Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.'

    Cannoli was never the same after this scene. It’s like a far more grim and violent relative to American Pie and Apple Pie. Yes, that is a disgusting comparison, but it is very apt. Frankly, it’s impossible to disagree with, and you don’t have to think about it too much.

  • 'Senators and presidents don't have men killed./Oh, who's being naive, Kay?'

    Few characters are as infuriating as Kay. She’s totally oblivious and naive to basically everything. Also, the line where she says, “Would you like me better if I were a nun?” might be one of the most annoying pieces of dialogue in cinema history. Sure, Diane Keaton plays the role well, but even she would have to admit that Kay was just…UGH!

  • 'A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man./I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.'

    Marlon Brando famously won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Don Vito Corleone. This scene alone is enough reason why he won the Oscar. The line reading on “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” is so good, he had to have known it was going to become part of the pop culture lexicon. Just iconic!

  • 'They shot Sonny on the causeway. He's dead./This war stops now.'

    Just in case the scene above wasn’t enough for the Academy to award Brando with Best Actor, this scene clinches it. The despair in his face upon learning of Sonny’s murder is devastating. What a scene! Seriously, both Brando and Robert Duvall ATE in this moment.

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

    Ugh…f—ing Fredo! What a piece of s—! Since the introduction of Fredo, sibling relationships have never been the same. Every family has a Fredo. If you don’t think yours does, I have some bad news for you.

  • 'It's a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.'

    As a people, we don’t “send messages” like this anymore. They’ve basically been replaced with emojis and memes. Okay, perhaps the mafia still does stuff like this, but you get the idea.

  • 'In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.'

    With one line, Sicilian women became iconic the world over. Seriously, since The Godfather, if you’ve met a Sicilian woman, how could you not think of this line? Also, did you immediately become a little frightened for your safety? No? Just this author? Okay, then.

  • 'Do you renounce Satan?/I do renounce him.'

    Another thing The Godfather has changed? Baptisms! Who hasn’t been at a baptism since the film was released in 1972 and didn’t think about this grizzly scene? Again, it can’t just be this author. Clearly, many people have flashed back to this scene during any baptism.

  • 'Don't ask me about my business.'

    With this line and that ominous door closing, Michale’s transition to becoming the head of the family is complete. You almost feel sorry for Kay in this moment. Then again, she’s such a naive fool that it’s hard to feel sympathy for her. Still, props to Diane Keaton and that expression on her face as the door closes.

  • Bonus: The scene where Sonny cleans Carlo's clock.

    This is truly one of the greatest and unintentionally funny fight scenes ever. Sure, Sonny is a philanderer, but he would never harm a woman. However, James Caan’s punches are framed so poorly and are clearly fake. At the same time, Sonny gnawing on Carlo’s hand is just funny and will always be funny.

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