Closing Scene -- Godfather Part Two

I just finished watching the film. At the end, having just knocked off his own brother, Fredo, Michael gets to thinking and the movie cuts to a scene where they all flash back to Pearl Harbor Day, with all of the brothers together, even Tessio, who of course like Fredo also got knocked off for betraying the Family (in I). The scene is, like so many others, unbelievably powerful.

My question is this: Was the scene filmed espcially for II? It seems too precisely-scripted (i.e., in keeping with the spirit and plot of II) to have just been some outtake from I. Further, if so, why couldn’t they get Marlon Brando back, who is noticably absent from the “flashback” scene? (It is Don Corleone’s birthday, and we hear his entrance, but never see him).

Does anybody have any insight or a link to some resource on this?

JohnW77707 writes:

> Was the scene filmed espcially for II?


You further write:

> Further, if so, why couldn’t they get Marlon Brando back,
> who is noticably absent from the “flashback” scene?

He either asked for too much money or he simply refused to do it under any circumstances.

You also write:

> . . . all of the brothers together, even Tessio, who of
> course like Fredo also got knocked off for betraying the
> Family (in I)

I assume that you mean Carlo Rizzi (played by Gianni Russo), who’s a brother-in-law, not a brother. He was killed in I. Sal Tessio (played by Abe Vigoda) is killed in II, but then he’s just one of the subheads of the Corleone syndicate and not part of the family.

I had blanked out on Carlo for a moment; that makes three. Wasn’t Tessio whacked at the end of I for trying to set Michael up after Don Corleone died? (“Tom, can you get me out of this one, for old times’ sake . . . .”)

Tessio got it in I, when he exposed himself as the betrayer by trying to set up the meeting among Michael and the other families.

Remember, he asks “Can you get me out of this? For old times’ sake?”

I watched that last night too. Last week-end I watched Part I. I know, of course, that these films were based on fact. The young singer in I, on whose benefit the horse’s head was used, was Frank Sinatra in real life. But I have a question I like to put in here, since this is opened already. And pardon my ignorance, but was there a Corleone family? I mean, was that the actual name or a pseudonym? And the prequel at the beginning of II, was that part too based on fact? I really doubt that. Certainly, Mike’s having the old Mafia guy in Corleone bumped off 50 years after he killed his grandparents (and granduncle) is just unbelievable. How could that guy possibly be alive? He’d have to be at least in his 80’s, so it’s remotely possible. But if he were to be bumped off (which he was), why wasn’t that arranged earlier? I think that part detracts from the integrity of the movies.

I actually asked a couple of questions here, but would appreciate the answers.

You’re right, it’s II where Tessio gets killed.

The singer Johnny Fontane (played by Al Martino) is based at least partly on Frank Sinatra, but that’s the only character with such a clear relationship to a real-life character. Mario Puzo used a bunch of stories about the Mafia that were floating around in writing his novel, but there’s no easy one-to-one match-up with characters and real people in general. There was certainly no Corleone family in the sense of a single Mafia family from which all of Puzo’s stories were derived. Corleone isn’t (I think) even a real Italian name. You’ll remember that when Vito gets to immigration in II, an immigration official misunderstands when he’s told his name and hometown and he puts down the name of the town as his last name.

It wasn’t Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) who went back to Sicily to kill the local godfather who killed his grandparents and his uncles. It was Vito (played by Robert De Niro as a younger man). It would have only been about 30 years later, not 50.

Excuse me, I meant to write “Tessio got killed in I.”

I know that it was not Mike who personally did it. But that happened after WWII and, IIRC, the prequel stated the year was 1901 when Don Corleone escaped to America.

It was not Michael who ordered the killing. Sit down and watch II again. It was Vito. At the end of the sequence, there’s a scene with Michael, still a very young boy. Vito was played by De Niro in that sequence, so it couldn’t have been later than the 1930’s. Perhaps it was as much as 40 years after the Sicilian godfather killed all of Vito’s family (if so, it would mean that they failed to sufficiently ago De Niro), but not 50.

I wrote “sufficiently ago De Niro”.

I meant “sufficiently age De Niro”.

If you rent “The Godfather Saga” you can see the story take place in sequence. It’s a different experience. There is some added footage in that edition including some revenge that Michael takes on the guy who killed his Sicilian wife.

There is also a Trilogy edition with even more footage, but then you have to sit through Part III.

All this being true, back to the OP, does anyone have some specific information about the closing scene in II? At least three actors came back (Sonny, Carlo, and Tessio), but Don Corleone is an obvious no-show . . .

The Corleone family is not a real Mafia family, but there is a Corleone, Sicily which is one of the primary Mafia breeding grounds and one of the towns in Sicily most decimated by Mafia wars.

Vito Corleone is clearly based on Carlo Gambino, in image at least. Gambino was a soft spoken, humble and peaceful demeanor but at the same time never forgave an insult or slight, and was one of the most traditionally minded Mafia heads. Gambino liked to putter around in his garden barefoot dressed like a peasant. He had a large compound in Long Island but still liked to return to the old neighborhood to buy fruit. Sound familiar?

They actually considered having Sinatra play that role, IIRC.

But according to The Sinatra Files : The Secret FBI Dossier (well according to a review of it) there’s no proof that the horse head incident, or the intimidation of a band leader ever actually happened.

When Frank Sinatra’s career was on the ropes, he was not recued by his Mafia contacts. Most entertainers were victims of the mob, not beneficiaries, and to seek the mob’s assistance would only invite an even greater debt.

Sinatra was rescued by His wife Ava Gardner’s intercession with Harry Cohn to cast Sinatra in “From Here to Eternity.” At that meeting Cohn, the ultimate casting-couch sexual preditor, may have uttered the phrase “can you get me off for old time’s sake?” the only similarity to the Godfather movie.

Mario Puzo freely admitted that he didn’t know all that much about the Mafia, and that much of what he wrote was based on hearsay, speculation, and Mafia anecdotes he’d heard second and third-hand.

Some of the characters are clearly based on real persons, others are composites. Among the characters who are OBVIOUSLY based on real persons:

  1. Johnny Fontaine is obviously supposed to be Frank Sinatra. That Frank had close ties to major Mob bosses is undeniable. But the “Fontaine” subplot was based on a false, ugly rumor- namely, that the Mafia threatened Jack Warner’s life, in order to get Frank Sinatra the role of Maggio in the film version of “From Here to Eternity.”

    Even Kitty Kelley, who trashed Sinatra in every way imaginable, acknowledges there was no truth to that story. In reality, Frak auditioned for the part, but lost the role to Eli Wallach. Shortly before filming was to begin, Wallach was offered a role in a Tennessee Williams play. SInce Maggio was only a small, supporting role, and Eli Wallach wasn’t a huge star, Warner Brothers let him go without a fight, and gave Sinatra (the runner-up) the part. Of course, that role reinvigorated Sinatra’s career.

  2. Moe Greene was obviously supposed to be Bugsy Siegel, who squandered a lot of Mafia money while trying to build up resorts in Las Vegas.

  3. Hyman Roth was obviously supposed to be Meyer Lansky.

As for composites… Don Corleone was partly based on Carlo Gambino. Like Corleone, Gambino was a (seemingly) sweet little old man who sat and sipped coffee, while munching on canoli, and smiling at little children. He ALSO hated drugs, and refused to make heroin trade a big part of Mafia business (though, in reality, loads of Mafiosis dealt drugs in spite of the old man’s disapproval). And DOn Corleone’s relationship with Michael resembled that of mobster Frank Costello and his sons. Costello kept his own sons out of the Mafia, and sent them to college.

Interestingly, Puzo’s books and movies SHAPED the Mafia as much as they described it. Puzo found it amusing that “godfather” became an important term in the real-life Mafia, because it was NEVER used by real mobsters in the 1940s. “Compadre” was something an ordinary Sicilian would call his buddy, NOT something anyone would have called a Mafia kingpin.

Over the years, many Mob guys came to LOVE the Godfather books and movies, which they thougfht glamorized their business!

I’m sure Marlon Brando’s general pickiness and weirdness had something to do with it, but doesn’t it seem somehow appropriate that he does not appear? One of the points to “The Godfather, Part II” is Michael’s failure to truly become his father - he’s rich and powerful, but his family (which is what made his father happy) is a failure.

Watch the final scene of G-2 again; at its conclusion, none of Michael’s family is on screen. He sits alone in the flashback, as he does in the “present.” That, ultimately, was his failure.

They wanted Brando back for the closing scene in II but he either wanted too much money, top billing again, or he couldn’t make it because of a conflict. I don’t remember which and have seen all 3 given as excuses. That’s why they came up with the birthday surprise. Coppola said it ended up being perfect since Vito (Brando) cast such a large shadow over the whole movie. Having him on screen would have taken some of it away.

It’s interesting, in the flashback Michael is alone for doing the right thing. After that scene they show another scene that looks to be about 10 years after the Fredo killing, he’s alone again, but this time for doing the ‘right’ thing for the family.