Coppola’s Godfather Notes

Godfather Script

What a wonderful find: Coppola’s notes for the Godfather screenplay, written directly on page 152 of Puzo’s novel.

From the restaurant scene where Michael takes out Sollozzo and Capt. McClusksey:

Here’s how the scene plays out on in the screenplay (Second Draft; March 1, 1971):


He hesitates by the bathroom door; and looks at his table.  McCLUSKEY is eating a plate of spaghetti and veal. SOLLOZZO turns around upon hearing the door, and looks directly at MICHAEL.  MICHAEL looks back.  Then he smiles and continues back to the table.


Now I can talk.   I feel much better.

The MAN by the far wall had been stiff with attention; now he too relaxes.   SOLLOZZO leans toward MICHAEL who sits down comfortably and his hands move under the table and unbutton his jacket.  SOLLOZZO begins to speak in Sicilian once again but MICHAEL’S heart is pounding so hard he can barely hear him.

The WAITER comes to ask about the order, SOLLOZZO turns to speak, and without warning, MICHAEL shoves the table away from him with his left hand, and with his right hand puts the gun right against SOLLOZZO’s head, just touching his temple.   He pulls the trigger, and we see part of SOLLOZZO’s head blown away, and a spray of fine mist of blood cover the entire area.

The WAITER looks in amazement; suddenly his white jacket is sprayed and stained with blood.

SOLLOZZO seems in perpetual fall to the floor; though he seems to hang in space suspended.

MICHAEL pivots, and looks:

There is McCLUSKEY, frozen, the fork with a piece of veal suspended in air before his gaping mouth.

MICHAEL fires; catching McCLUSKEY in his thick bulging throat.  He makes a horrible, gagging, choking sound.  Then coolly, and deliberately, MICHAEL fires again, fires right through McCLUSKEY’s white-topped skull.

The air is filled with pink mist.

MICHAEL swings town the man standing by the bathroom wall.

He does not make a move, seemingly paralyzed.

Now he carefully shows his hands to be empty.

The WAITER steps backward through the mist of blood, and expression of horror on his face.

MICHAEL looks at his two victims:

SOLLOZZO still in his chair, side of his body propped up by the table.

McCLUSKEY finally falls from the chair to the table.

MICHAEL is wildly at a peak. He starts to move out.

His hand: is frozen by his side, STILL GRIPPING THE GUN.

He moves, not letting the gun go.

MICHAEL’s face; frozen in its expression.

His hand: still holding the gun.

His face: finally he closes his eyes.

His hand relaxes, the gun falls to the floor with a dull thud.

He walks quickly out of the restaurant, looks back.

He sees a frozen tableau of the murder; as though it had been recreated in wax.

Then he leaves.

And here’s how it played out in the film:

Check out Act Four Screenplays for some great commentary on adapting The Godfather from novel to screenplay.

William Robert Rich
William Robert Rich

William Robert Rich is a story analyst, screenwriter, and co-author of Story Maps: The Films of Christopher Nolan. He's currently based in Austin, Texas.

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