Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather has become famous for bringing legends like Al Pacino to the spotlight and every actor excelled in their roles, making their characters icons in the film landscape that has allowed them to remain relevant almost fifty years later.
While Vito and Michael are remembered the most for being the series protagonists, Sonny has remained notable due to him bringing a distinct mixture of comedy, action, and emotion to the story, all thanks to the brilliant performance of the great James Caan.
Sonny Corleone Means What He Says
“You Touch My Sister Again And I’ll Kill Ya.”
Sonny wasn’t a feared gangster for no reason, and anybody who did him wrong would be in for a world of pain, no one more so than Carlo, who had been abusive toward Sonny’s sister. Since Sonny had been the one to introduce Carlo to his sister and got her stuck with the latter as her husband, Sonny brought extra venom to his attack.
Bringing in strength that would put Superman to shame, Sonny found Carlo on a street and proceeded to give him a no holds barred beatdown. This was so bad that Carlo was knocked out entirely, with Sonny giving him one more kick for good measure after reminding Carlo never to touch his sister again.
Sonny Corleone Talks Business
“Well, Then Business Will Have To Suffer, All Right?”
According to Vito, Sonny never had the makings of a good Don, as Sonny was prone to violent outbursts and was a reactive person rather than a strategist. The audience sees how Vito’s assessment is right on the money after Vito had been attacked.
Sonny, only having blood on his mind in retaliation for what happened to his father, didn’t want to pay heed to Tom’s words that killing Solozzo would begin a chain reaction where the Corleones would be outcasts. Sonny still didn’t flinch, arguing that he didn’t care if business suffered if it meant getting revenge.
Only The Best For Sonny Corleone
“I Want Somebody Good – And I Mean Very Good – To Plant That Gun.”
The only time Sonny would put things into thinking matters was when his own family was involved, which is when Sonny took the cautious approach because it came down to a do-or-die situation. When Michael’s plan of killing Solozzo was in motion, Sonny wanted things perfect.
Had the gun not been planted right in the toilet for Michael to retrieve it, then it would’ve been curtains for Sonny’s little brother, and that’s something that he could never have lived with. It was a simple job, but Sonny would’ve put all of the mob’s resources if it meant getting the job done right.
James Caan Improvises One Of Sonny Corleone’s Best Moments
“Hey! Come Here. Come Here. Come Here!”
This scene is made even more entertaining by the behind-the-scenes fact that it was improvised by the actor. As it happened, Sonny was angered when the FBI patrolled the Corleone estate during his sister’s wedding and then needed to vent the anger.
He found a cameraman lurking around and proceeded to grab the man and assault him for no reason, before seizing the man’s camera and smashing it. As compensation, Sonny took a couple of dollar bills and tossed them to the ground. The man’s perfectly dumbstruck expression was possible only because the actor had no idea James Caan was going to react that way.
Sonny Corleone On Education
“Did You Go To College To Get Stupid? You Are Really Stupid.”
It’s unfortunate that Sonny got killed so early in the series, as the Corleone family began its downfall due to a lack of familial loyalty. The ending of The Godfather Part II highlighted this perfectly too as there’s a cameo from Sonny in the form of a flashback.
Although he was highly aggressive with Michael due to the latter’s decision to join the army, it was only because Sonny deeply loved his baby brother and didn’t want to see him die; he was also angered because he was certain the news would break Vito’s heart. So, he hit Michael where it would hurt and mocked Michael’s college education for making him stupid.
Did Sonny Corleone Start All Of The Tragedy?
“Are You Telling Me That The Tattaglia Family Guarantee Our Investment…?”
Everything that happened in The Godfather trilogy was because of these few words Sonny made the mistake of uttering. Solozzo saw that Don Corleone wasn’t interested in his deal, but Sonny couldn’t help contain his interest when he heard their potential investment in narcotics would be secure by the Tattaglias.
Thereafter, Solozzo convinced the other families to put a hit on the Don, seeing Vito’s death as a way to remove him and put Sonny in charge, thereby ensuring that Sonny would make the investment he was initially interested in. Whatever happened in the series was only possible because Sonny talked when he should have listened.
Sonny Corleone Always Looked To His Father
“So? What’s Your Answer Gonna Be, Pop?”
Those who watch the film for the first time would assume it was building up to show Sonny as being resentful for having to listen to Vito’s every command, but it turned out he always had only love and respect for his father.
Not once did Sonny ever talk back to Vito and would take a scolding without argument. Here, one could see that Sonny really wanted the narcotics deal but kept himself quiet and asked his father for the go-ahead. It went to show how Vito’s word would always be final for Sonny.
Sonny Corleone Prepares For War
“We’re Going To The Mattresses!”
This Sonny Corleone quote from The Godfather has been made famous in pop culture in a sort of satirical sense as it’s used when someone wants to look tough but doesn’t quite manage to come across that way. However, Sonny sounded like a total badass when he uttered it.
When Tom told him he should listen to Solozzo’s bargain, Sonny was beside himself with rage because his consigliere didn’t want vengeance as he did. For Sonny, the deal was just a safe passage to “go to the mattresses” – he wanted war.
Never Let It Be Said That Sonny Corleone Did Not Love His Family
“Mike, Let Me Look At You…You’re Beautiful, Beautiful. You’re Gorgeous.”
Sonny had some kind of hidden respect for Michael all along, although the latter had never proven himself as a tough guy to Sonny until this point. It happened when Michael was punched by McClusky, giving him a sore wound on his face.
For Sonny, this was like a baptism for Michael into becoming a man, and he thought Michael looked absolutely beautiful. He showed his enthusiasm by warmly embracing his brother and talking to him as if it was all casual. It was the appropriate response as it took away the heaviness of the situation and earned Michael Sonny’s respect.
Sonny Corleone Is All About Business
“Tom, This Is Business And This Man Is Taking It Very, Very Personal.”
The last thing one would have expected was to see Sonny and the others break into rapturous laughter, and yet that was their reaction when Michael came up with the idea of shooting Solozzo and McClusky.
It’s here where it becomes obvious that all of Sonny’s warfare plans were done with a business mindset, as he suddenly laughed at Michael’s suggestion, although this was also something that brought affection out of Sonny as he gave his brother a big kiss for being so loyal to their father. Had Michael had this kind of big brother figure later on, perhaps he would never have become the cold, ruthless man he eventually did.
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