Story of the Scene: The Godfather (1972)

Roger Clarke
Friday 18 July 2008 00:00 BST

About 50 minutes into The Godfather, just after the "sleeps with the fishes" scene, Mafia henchmen Clemenza and Rocco get into a car with Paulie. They intend to kill him.

Clemenza, played by the Bronx-born actor Richard S Castellano, claims that they are going to look for "mattresses" (safe houses) and directs Paulie to drive to "309 West 43rd Street". The remarks about cannoli (pastries) that begin and end the scene have become as famous as anything in The Godfather.

The scene where Paulie gets popped begins with Clemenza leaving his house and his wife shouting: "Don't forget the cannoli" – a last-minute dialogue addition from director Francis Ford Coppola. There follows a montage of stock footage of period New York, and then a shot of the car driving in the countryside beyond New York. Clemenza asks to pull over to take "a leak". In the distance pokes the Statue of Liberty.

Three shots are fired by Rocco into Paulie's head. As Rocco gets out the car, Clemenza says: "Leave the gun – take the cannoli." He takes the food as Paulie lies slumped against the steering wheel. Coppola gave all credit to the actor in later years: "Richie improvised the line," he said.

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