In The Godfather I, Carlo is seen as an abuser of his wife Connie, and my general feeling is that he's somewhat of an outsider who wants desperately to get involved in the Corleone "family business".

At the end of The Godfather II, we see that Sonny is the one who introduces Carlo to Connie, when he brings Carlo to his parents house for his father's birthday party.

For Sonny to have brought Carlo to his parents house for such an occasion, I would think that Sonny trusts Carlo implicitly. You don't just bring a stranger to your father's birthday party, especially when you're in organized crime. Yet there is never, in either movie that I recall, any mention of what Carlo does or how Sonny knows him. In fact, their relationship is extremely poor in The Godfather I.

How did Sonny know Carlo, and what led to their deteriorated relationship?

2 Answers 2


From what I remember from the Novel, Carlo is in some kind of trouble with the police when he comes across Sonny, who uses his connections to give him some kind of sanctuary, and eventually absolution. It's quite ambiguous what Carlo has done...

At this point there are no hostilities towards him, so no reason not to invite him to a party: he's not a Cop, he's come to them for help... The Cosa Nostra appropriate social meetings in order to conduct business without suspicion, that's their basic MO with this type of thing, so it's not just a party for Carlo, it's an introduction.

Vito immediately takes a disliking to him, but not enough to do anything drastic; he just suspects he's not what he seems. Sicilian tradition however, of which Vito is Orthodox, forbids the interference of a father in a relationship bonded and destined for marriage.

It's not necessarily explored in the film, but Carlo is secretly only married to Connie to gain entry to the Corleone family; and, further to this, uses his position of patriarchy over Connie as leverage against the Corleones.

He subtly blackmails them throughout that if he doesn't get his way, he will use violence against Connie; this is why Sonny, and everyone else, comes to loathe him.

  • "He subtly blackmails them throughout that if he doesn't get his way, he will exert violence against Connie" - I didn't really get this out of the movie. I thought Sonny hates him for beating his sister as part of simply being a bad husband. But the answer makes sense, I might just not have understood the movie sufficiently in this regard.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 10:42
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    Its only implied in the movie, the Novel makes it a lot clearer, and also makes a point of saying Vito doesn't trust him: one of Vito's greatest strengths lies in his good judge of character, which Michael tries to reproduce. Vito even selects Michael over Fredo (his older brother), because he anticipates Fredo's character. In the novel, when Carlo shows up to the party (and thus into the family), Vito says something to Tom about not letting him know too much, not trusting him. His judgment is supernaturally infallible...that's why he's the Godfather. Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 10:59
  • "Sicilian tradition however, of which Vito is Orthodox, forbids the interference of a father in a relationship bonded and destined for marriage." But Michael ask's Apollonia's father his authorization before marring her. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 10:52
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    @Bebs, just because the father is typically prohibited from interfering, does not mean Michael would not show him respect by asking. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 10:58
  • @JohnSmithOptional: It is interesting that in the book, Fredo is merely weak; in the movie it is clear he is not only not very bright but a subtle reason for this is offered: he may have had a childhood illness that affected his brain.(We see him being sick in the apartment before or around the time Vito starts to get involved in crime.)
    – Jeff
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 18:32

I may be wrong but I read somewhere (God help me because I can't remember where I read this) that the reason Vito didn't want Carlo included in the family business was because Carlo wasn't Sicilian...that he was from another town in Italy and somehow didn't approve of the marriage. As punishment to Connie, Vito didn't interfere whenever Carlo would beat up his daughter making a statement that he never liked the idea of his daughter marrying him. If that is the case, why would Sonny introduce Carlo to his sister if Vito wasn't too happy with the relationship.

  • I don't recall reading this about Vito but it is worth noting that in cut scenes, someone being specifically a Sicilian, not merely Italian, is considered important -- Vito asks Tom about Woltz's character and Tom then asks, "Do you mean, is he a Sicilian?" (Tom did not mean literally since Woltz was plainly not remotely a Sicilian.) And in the real world of the Mafia, one gangster objects to including Jews in their business and another says, You are the effing foreigner... the objector was Italian but not Sicilian so we can see that being Sicilian was indeed important to some in the Mafia.
    – releseabe
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 4:52

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