The Godfather Plot Summary

“The Godfather” is a classic crime drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and based on the novel by Mario Puzo. The film explores the story of the Corleone crime family in New York City.

Beginning: Corleone Family and the Wedding

In 1945, New York City is home to the Corleone crime family, led by Vito Corleone. The story begins at the wedding of Vito’s daughter, Connie, to Carlo. During the wedding, Michael, Vito’s youngest son and a former Marine, introduces his girlfriend, Kay Adams, to his family. Johnny Fontane, Vito’s godson and a famous singer, seeks help to secure a movie role. Vito sends Tom Hagen, his consigliere, to convince studio president Jack Woltz to give Johnny the part, which eventually happens after a gruesome persuasion tactic.

Sollozzo’s Proposal and The Turmoil Begins

As Christmas approaches, Sollozzo, a drug baron, proposes a narcotics business partnership to Vito, which is declined due to Vito’s fear of losing political connections. Suspicion of Sollozzo’s ties with the Tattaglia crime family leads Vito to send Luca Brasi, his enforcer, on a mission. However, Brasi is killed during the mission, and Vito is later shot and left in a critical state.

Michael’s Involvement and Revenge

With Vito incapacitated, his first-born, Sonny, takes control. After another attempt on Vito’s life, Michael steps in, kills Sollozzo and corrupt police captain McCluskey, then goes into hiding in Sicily, while the Five Families plunge into warfare.

The Fallout and Michael’s New Life

In the wake of the violence, Sonny is killed in an ambush, and Michael gets married in Sicily, only to lose his wife to a car bomb. Vito, seeking an end to the violence, agrees to a meeting with the Five Families and gives up his opposition to their narcotics trade.

The Ascendance of Michael and Vito’s Passing

Michael, now ready to take over the family business, returns home to marry Kay and start a family. As Vito’s health declines, Michael takes over as head of the Corleone family, reassigns Hagen, and sets out to Las Vegas to buy out Greene’s stake in the family’s casinos.

The Final Power Play

Upon Vito’s death, Tessio’s betrayal is revealed. As Michael becomes godfather to Connie’s baby, the remaining heads of the Five Families and Greene are eliminated. Tessio is executed for his treachery, and Carlo is killed after confessing his role in Sonny’s murder.

The New Don Corleone

As Connie confronts Michael about Carlo’s death, he denies any involvement. Capos pay their respect to Michael, now recognized as “Don Corleone”, marking a new era for the Corleone crime family.


“The Godfather” is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan. Based on Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, the movie tells the story of the Corleone family, a powerful mafia clan in New York City, and their struggles to maintain their power and protect their interests in a world of violence and betrayal.

The film is a masterpiece of the crime genre, with its intricate plot, complex characters, and iconic performances. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made and a defining work of American cinema.

The film’s visual style, from its darkly lit interiors to its stunning exterior shots of New York City, is masterfully executed, creating a powerful and immersive cinematic experience. The use of shadow and light is especially notable, as it emphasizes the film’s themes of power, corruption, and morality.

The movie’s screenplay, co-written by Puzo and Coppola, is a classic example of the three-act structure proposed by Syd Field. The first act introduces the characters and their motivations, the second act involves the family’s efforts to maintain their power, and the third act features the tragic consequences of their actions. This structure serves to keep the story focused and intense, as each act builds upon the previous one, leading to a powerful and tragic conclusion.

Each of the main characters undergoes a transformation throughout the movie, with their motivations and personalities evolving as the story progresses. The character arcs are particularly well-developed, with the film’s exploration of family, loyalty, and betrayal creating complex and memorable characters.

The movie’s score, composed by Nino Rota, is a standout element of the film. The use of a haunting melody, known as “The Godfather Waltz,” adds a layer of emotional depth to the story, elevating the film beyond a simple crime drama. The use of music as a storytelling device is a testament to the power of sound in cinema and a hallmark of Coppola’s filmmaking style.