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Classic Movie Characters: Vito Corleone played by Marlon Brando in The Godfather

Vito Corleone Marlon Brando The Godfather

In this series we are profiling some of the greatest characters ever committed to celluloid, here it is the turn of Vito Corleone played by Marlon Brando in The Godfather (1972, directed by Francis Ford Coppola).

With squinty eyes and drooping cheeks, this patriarch’s face seems to be one sad sag; it is, in fact, an impassive mask for a quick mind and a fierce ethos. His talent is for crime, but his passion is for his family. He seems to carry with him a latent sense of tragedy, and as the film continues, that sense manifests itself more and more as Vito realizes that the things he did to protect his family sowed the seeds of its destruction. The most complex mobster ever portrayed onscreen.

Defining Moment: After slapping around cream puff crooner Johnny Fontane with the admonishment “be a man,” Vito tells him, “You look terrible. I want you to eat. I want you to rest well and in a month this Hollywood big shot’s gonna give you what you want.” Ever the wimp, Fontane protests, “Too late, they start shooting in a week.” Vito is unperturbed: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

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