The day after Christmas I was flipping through the channels on TV and landed on “The Godfather.” By the time I started watching, Connie had married Carlo, the movie producer had awoken to find his prize stallion’s head in his bed, and two attempts had been made on the life of Vito Corleone, The Godfather. Although it had been years since I watched the movie, I was once again riveted by the script and the outstanding performances of a cast of Hollywood legends.
In the opening minutes of the movie, young Michael Corleone shows up in a Marine uniform and is not a participate in the family business. But after the two attempts on his father’s life, he is all in. In a ruse to settle the dispute between the rival Mafia families, he meets drug baron Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo and corrupt police Captain McCluskey at Louis Restaurant. It was picked because it’s a nice family restaurant offering Italian and American food. Sollozzo recommends the veal. After some talk, Michael excuses himself to go to the john. He retrieves the gun planted behind the toilet tank and comes back to the table where his dinner companions are enjoying a scrumptious meal.
Sollozzo is speaking to Michael in Italian, and we don’t know what he is saying. The camera moves in for a head-shot of Michael. He is pretending to be listening to Sollozzo, but his eyes are dancing all over the place. Michael seems to be waging a war inside his head. Do I or don’t I? For a moment, it looks like Michael will change his mind, but then he pulls out the gun and shoots both men in the head. We see one body on the floor covered in blood, and the other slouched back in his chair, his head thrown back as though staring up at the ceiling, his mouth wide open. A gunshot wound to his throat, spouting blood. Calmly, Michael walks toward the door with the hand holding the gun suspended in mid-air. He opens his hand and the gun drops to the floor. As he walks out, a few people look on with astonished faces.
This is the moment that seals Michael’s fate. Now he is totally invested in the family business. It is not something even his father wanted for him.
Suppose Michael had changed his mind, left the gun where it was planted. Suppose he married his girlfriend Kay and lived a quiet life away from the corrupt, violent lifestyle of his family. That one action was his initiation to become the Mafia boss, a more ruthless man than his own father.
The point I’m trying to make is this: Decisions can be made in seconds that change a life forever. Capiche?
Photo “Wine Italy” by luigi diamanti