-Based on the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo
-Chronicles the life of the Italian-American crime family the Corleone Family from 1945-1955
Did You Know?
-Mafia boss Joe Columbo and his organization the Italian American Civil Rights League started a campaign to have the movie from not being filmed. The reason being he thought it was showing Italians in a bad light, and saying it was anti-Italian
-In the scene where Jack Woltz wakes up and finds the head of his prized horse in his bed, the horse head was real. It was acquired from a dog food factory, and actor John Marley was not informed of this, so the screams of horror are real
-In the scene where Vito is getting oranges from a street vendor, in the background is a poster advertising a fight for boxer Jake LaMotta
-Actor Al Pacino wore a foam latex facial feature over the entire left side of his cheek and was made up with color to simulate bruising from where McCluskey punched him
-Director Francis Ford Coppola uses alot of his family in the movie, such as:
1. Sister Talia Shire: Connie Corleone
2. Mother Italia Coppola: extra in restaurant scene
3. Father Carmine Coppola: piano player in mattress scene
4. Sons Gian-Carlo Coppola and Roman Coppola: extras in scene where Sonny beats up Carlo and at the funeral.
5. Daughter Sofia Coppola: baby Michael Rizzi ia holding in baptism
-Makes use of various Italian words, such as:
1. sfortunato: means what a unlucky guy
2. consigliere, or counselor
3. finocchio, or offensive term for homosexual
4. stronzo, or term equivalent to asshole
5. Carlo and Connie both say vaffanculo during their fight, which means f--- you
6. Don Zaluchi calls the sale of drugs to kids as infamita, or infamy
7. Don Corleone uses the word pezzonovante, aka .95 caliber or big shot
-Vito's grandson Anthony uses his real name in the movie. Anthony Gournaris responded best when his name was called so that is why his name is Anthony.
-A young Sylvester Stallone auditioned for the role of Paulie Gatto and Carlo Rizzi, but didn't get it.
-Character Moe Greene was modeled after Jewish mobster and father of Las Vegas Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel
-Al Pacino's maternal grandparents emigrated to America from Corleone, Sicily just as Vito Corleone had
-During his daughter Connie Corleone's (Talia Shire) wedding, crime family leader Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) hears requests for favors, one of which comes from singer Johnny Fontaine (Al Martino), asking for help in landing a movie role that will refresh his career. The Don's adopted son and family consigliere, or consultant in Italian, Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), is sent to Hollywood to meet with Jack Woltz (John Marley) to fulfill Johnny's favor. Woltz refuses and he quickly changes his tune when he wakes up one morning to find the severed head of his prized horse Khartoum in his bed.
-Upon hearing Hagen's return, drug lord Virgil "The Turk" Solozzo (Al Lettieri) asks Don Corleone to protect the Tattaglia family's heroin business. Disapproving of this and fearing the loss of his influence, he rejects the proposal and sends his henchmen, Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) to spy on Solozzo and the Tattaglias, but they end up killing Brasi. Solozzo's men then try to kill Corleone, but he suvives with bullet wounds. Solozzo then kidnaps Hagen and persuades him to offer Corleone's eldest son Sonny (James Caan) the deal. As a warning, the Tattaglias send the Corleone's a fish wrapped in the bulletproof vest Luca Brasi was wearing as a message to say Luca sleeps with the fishes. Vito's youngest son Michael (Al Pacino) stops a 2nd attempt on the Don's life at the hospital where his father lies. While in the process, he is assaulted by corrupt police Captain McCluskey (Sterling Hayden), who breaks his jaw. Sonny gets even by having Tattaglia's son Bruno killed
-Michael volunteers to kill Solozzo and McCluskey and Sonny hesitantly approves. While holding a peace meeting at a local restaurant, Michaael goes to the bathroom to retrieve the planted gun and returns to open fire on Solozzo and McCluskey. He leaves the country for refuge in Sicily, where he marries a young local woman named Apollonia (Simonetta Stefanelli). The 3rd Corleone brother, Fredo (John Cazale) is sent to Las Vegas where he is sheltered by Corleone associate Moe Green (Alex Rocco). Open war is declared between the Corleones and the other members of the 5 Families, all while the police and all law enforcement begin to put a squeeze on organized crime. Vito is distressed when he learns of Michael's involvement, as he had better hopes for Michael, his one son who was not involved in the family business
-At 1 point, Sonny impulsively leaves the family compound to confront Connie's abusive husband Carlo Rizzi (Gianni Russo), who has been beating her. Sonny beats Carlo up on the street and threatens to kill him if he ever beats Connie again. When on his way home, he is ambushed and gunned down by thugs at a toll booth. Elsewhere, Michael narrowly escapes death in Sicily when his wife is killed by a car bomb meant for him. To end the gang war, Vito meets with the heads of the Five Families and settles their argument, withdrawing his decision to forego the Tattaglia's heroin business. He learns that the Tattaglia's were acting on behalf of the more powerful Don Emilio Barzini (Richard Conte). With his safety now guaranteed, Michael returns home. More than year later, he marries his longtime girlfriend Kay Adams (Diane Keaton). Michael becomes the head of the Corleone family after Fredo is seen as incapable of running the family and Vito withdraws from control.
-Michael allows rival families to pressure Corleone businesses and eat away at their money, angering the caporegimes. He directs them not to attack, disclosing plans to move family operations out to Nevada while spinning off New York operations to family members who stay behind. Michael replaces Hagen as consigliere; Vito explains to an upset Hagen that he and Michael have long range plans for the family; ans later Michael travels to Las Vegas to buy out Greene's stake in the casinos. Greene rejects, saying the Corleone's are losing power.
-After destoying all his enemies, Michael is confronted by Connie who accuses him of having her husband killed. When Kay confronts and argues with him, he denies killing Carlo. Soon, Kay watches Michael meet with his capos, who kiss his hand and greet him as the new Don Corleone.
- Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, the Don (the "boss") of the Corleone family, formerly known as Vito Andolini. He is the father of Santino (Sonny), Federico (Fredo), Michele (Michael) and Constanzia (Connie) and adoptive father to Tom Hagen. Husband of Carmela Corleone. A native Sicilian.
- Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, the Don's youngest son, recently returned from World War II. The only college-educated member of the family, he initially wants nothing to do with the "family business". His evolution from doe-eyed outsider to ruthless boss is the key plotline of the film.
- James Caan as Santino "Sonny" Corleone, Don Corleone's hot-headed eldest son. As underboss, he is being groomed to succeed his father as head of the family.
- Richard S. Castellano as Peter Clemenza, a caporegime for the family.
- Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, Don Corleone's informally adopted son, he is the family lawyer and consigliere (counselor). He is German-Irish, not Sicilian.
- Diane Keaton as Kay Adams-Corleone, Michael's girlfriend and, ultimately, his wife and mother of his children.
- John Cazale as Fredo Corleone, the middle son. Deeply insecure and not very bright, he is considered the weakest of the Corleone brothers.
- Talia Shire as Constanzia "Connie" Corleone, the youngest child and only daughter. She marries Carlo Rizzi.
- Abe Vigoda as Salvatore Tessio, a caporegime for the family.
- Al Lettieri as Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo, a heroin dealer associated with the Tattaglia family.
- Gianni Russo as Carlo Rizzi, Connie's husband. Becomes an associate of the Corleone family, and ultimately betrays Sonny to the Barzini family.
- Sterling Hayden as Captain McCluskey, a corrupt police captain on Sollozzo's payroll.
- Lenny Montana as Luca Brasi, an enforcer utilized by Vito Corleone.
- Richard Conte as Emilio Barzini, Don of the Barzini family.
- Al Martino as Johnny Fontane, a world-famous popular singer and godson of Vito. Loosely based on Frank Sinatra.
- John Marley as Jack Woltz, a powerful Hollywood producer.
- Alex Rocco as Moe Greene, a longtime associate of the Corleone family who owns a Las Vegas hotel. Based on Bugsy Siegel.
- Morgana King as Carmela Corleone, Vito's wife and mother of Sonny, Fredo, Michael, and Connie, and adoptive mother to Tom Hagen.
- Corrado Gaipa as Don Tommasino, an old friend of Vito Corleone, shelters Michael during his exile in Sicily
- Johnny Martino as Paulie Gatto, a soldier under Peter Clemenza and Vito's driver.
- Victor Rendina as Philip Tattaglia, Don of the Tattaglia family.
- Simonetta Stefanelli as Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone, a young girl Michael meets and marries while in Sicily.
- Louis Guss as Don Zaluchi, Don of the Zaluchi family of Detroit.
- Tom Rosqui as Rocco Lampone, a soldier under Clemenza who eventually becomes a caporegime in the Corleone family.
- Joe Spinell as Willi Cicci, a soldier in the Corleone family.
- Richard Bright as Al Neri, Michael Corleone's bodyguard. He eventually becomes a caporegime.
- Julie Gregg as Sandra Corleone, wife of Sonny