Al Pacino and John Cazale in The Godfather Part II

My Favorite Scene: The Godfather Part II (1974) “I Know It Was You, Fredo”


I prefer The Godfather to The Godfather Part II, but both won Best Picture, and for most people it’s a toss-up as to which is the better film.  I prefer the first film’s narrative about Michael’s descent into Hell rather than the sequel’s about the price of reigning there.  I actually enjoy Robert DeNiro’s part of the dual storyline as a young, rising Vito Corleone more than I do Al Pacino’s expansion of his empire into Cuba amidst the crumbling of the family that was his base.

Whichever of the two films you prefer, both are flawless (and would that Coppola had just let that lie).  My favorite scene in the epic isn’t long; not even a minute.  It is, though, I believe the most powerful and enduring moment in the film.  Fredo, Fredo, Fredo.  Michael warned you, man.  You don’t take sides against the family.  This is like Mob 101!  When Michael finds out that Fredo’s been betraying him, the moment he’s dead isn’t when he actually has him killed on a lonely lake.  Mirroring Jesus’s identification of Judas as His traitor, Michael embraces him, kisses him, and then chills him to his soul with a quote that’s as legendary as any in cinema: “I know it was you, Fredo.”

John Cazale and Al Pacino in The Godfather Part II


3 thoughts on “My Favorite Scene: The Godfather Part II (1974) “I Know It Was You, Fredo””

  1. Poor Fredo. Just…poor Fredo. There is almost nothing you can say. You feel like walking up to him at random points in the movies and patting him on the back and saying, “Hey, chin up, guy.” Ever notice how each Godfather film ends with Micheal killing a family member, and the family member gets closer to Micheal each time?

    Godfather II is not flawless. On the short list of great movies? Of course, and listed near the top, but there are pacing issues throughout, and also some down time. The first one has no down time, every millisecond of screen time counts. But the first one is a straightforward narrative, and the plot/theme about The Fall coexists with a universally relatable drama about an immigrant family, where at any given time you can almost, almost forget the murdering and the graft. Godfather II has a fractured timeline, and there is little to distract you from the evil. Of COURSE part 1 is better. When a film is less complicated, with less on its mind (even if it’s just a little less), it is easier to pull off.

    Also, I am going to be annoying and defend part 3. Yes, the problems are many and varied, the helicopter flying over Atlantic City and slaughtering all those mafiosos with the machine guns was a crime against the entire Godfather trilogy atmosphere, meaning G3 was a crime against itself. Sophia Coppola was… the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola. To this day I cannot order gnocchi in an italian restaurant, it gives me horrible flashbacks of Sophia asking, “Cous?” Would that Winona Ryder had not gotten injured, and had taken the part. Would, I say, would! But it is an eminently rewatchable film, which counts for a lot. A threequel coming 20 years late was never a serious contender for masterpiece status anyway. Create a masterpiece once, good job. Pull another one out of your hat, extraordinary. After that, the world does not give two figs about you, or anything you do.

    Just kidding. But there is such a thing as law of diminishing returns. G3 is a terrific film if you can divorce it from expectations. Top notch cinematography. Most of the performances are stellar (the Reason For the Qualifier “Most” knows who she is, though I’ll grant that she knows how to direct). And if Ryder had been in the film like I said, and Robert Duvall’s character had not been replaced by a nectarine, it would have been much, much better.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Please just do me a favor and take a deep breath first, and try to put it in perspective. It probably should never have been made, but it could have been worse. A lot worse. Coppola came this close to a G4, because G3 made a lot of money. G4 was going to be time fractured again. DeNiro returns as young(er) Vito, Sonny’s rise is chronicled. Then in the 1980’s Vincent gets the family into the drug business. As bad as you think G3 was, imagine Andy Garcia being asked to carry a Godfather film. Bullet. Dodged.


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