The Godfather movies are heavily laden with all sorts of memorable quips and pearls of wisdom. The best are usually reserved for the likes of Vito Corleone and his son Michael, however many of the peripheral characters also provide some of the more timeless quotes from the trilogy.
In this case, we’re looking at some of Clemenza’s best work. One of the most likeable members of the Corleone Family, Clemenza is a loyal capo who usually conveys a laid-back and good-humoured personality. However, he’s as ruthless and efficient as anyone when there’s a job to be done.
Here are some of his more memorable quotes:
“It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”
When Sonny receives a package containing Brasi’s body armour with a dead fish inside, it’s old school Pete Clemenza who explains the meaning to Sonny. Now they know for certain that Brasi’s meeting with Tattaglia has not gone according to plan.
“Oh, Paulie… won’t see him no more.”
Having figured that Paulie was the one who sold out Vito to Sollozzo, Sonny tasked Clemenza with eliminating the traitor. After the job is done, Sonny asks how it went, however Clemenza is smart enough to answer the question without confessing to anything at the same time. Like any good mobster, Clemenza can say a lot without saying anything specific.
“I love you with all-a my heart. If I don’t-a see you again soon I’m a-gonna die.”
Clemenza overhears Michael talking to Kay on the phone, obviously not wanting to tell her he loves her in earshot of everyone else. Once he hangs up, Clemenza teases him light-heartedly for not saying ‘I love you’ to Kay. He then proceeds to give Michael a cooking lesson until Sonny interrupts, which incidentally leads to the previous quote.
This scene shows Clemenza maintaining levity and good humour despite the dire situation the Corleone family is in at the time.
“These things gotta happen every five years or so, ten years. Helps to get rid of the bad blood.”
While Clemenza gives Michael the gun he will use to kill Sollozzo and McCluskey they discuss the potential aftermath. Clemenza anticipates a mob war but doesn’t seem too concerned. As a practical and level-headed man he can even see an upside to the forthcoming bloodshed.
“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”
What else could we finish with? Without a doubt the most famous Clemenza quote, uttered after Paulie has been executed for his betrayal.
The best part? It was half ad-lib. The script only stated ‘leave the gun’ but actor Richard S. Castellano added the second part, tying the scene back to an earlier mention of cannolis.
Got another quote from Pete Clemenza you like? Tell us in the comments below.