In The Godfather, Sollozzo and the Tattaglia's attempt to assassinate Don Corleone. He is shot several times in the back but survives.

An hour before the assassination Sollozzo picks up Tom Hagen. He tells him that the Don had to be killed as he stood in the way of his plans. He also asks "Sonny was hot for the deal wasn't he?". This is because he spoke up at the earlier meeting between Don Corleone and Sollozzo. Sollozzo asks Tom to make the peace between Sonny and himself.

Was Sonny speaking up at the meeting a major factor in the planned assassination of Don Corleone? Would it have taken place if he didn't speak up?

  • Pretty good well thought out answers. Personally, I still feel like no matter what in the long run, sonny would have had sollozzo killed eventually, even if he took the deal shortly. Some point in the future, sonny would bring retribution for his father's murderer and sollozzo would've had to have known he'd have a knife over his head for the rest of his life. I don't know, maybe Tom could have helped sonny be reasonable and see business side for a short term, but eventually can't see sonny to giving into his temper. Regardless, it ended up being worst decision sollozzo' made in his life. Very
    – user33685
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 20:04

5 Answers 5


My interpretation would be yes, it was a key factor and the assassination attempt would not have taken place if Sonny had not tipped Sollozzo off to the difference in opinion between himself and the Don. By doing so, Sonny effectively showed Sollozzo that the Don was all that was standing in the way of his plans, and removing him would clear the way for said plans by putting the more amenable Sonny in charge. Had Sonny kept his mouth shut, there would have been no obvious advantage to Sollozzo to remove the Don at that point. (which is not to say the plot couldn't have contrived one, or that something similar wouldn't have gone down at a later date anyway)

  • 4
    Vito Corleone says to Sonny: Never, tell, outside, the, family, what, you're, thinking
    – jsedano
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 18:29
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    If the assasination attempt succeeded I can't believe a deal would have been struck, Sonny is too tempremental and revenge-driven to make the deal with the man who just murdered his father.
    – howler
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 15:10
  • I would agree with @howler - Sollozzo knew that Sonny was hot-headed, and I can't imagine that he would believe he'd be able to strike a deal with Sonny if he had just murdered his father.
    – Tim S.
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 20:25
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    I had not thought of this and this makes Vito's scolding his son poignant -- although it was couched in more gentle tones, what Vito was really saying is, since he must of known how dangerous this was, You could get me and the rest of us all killed which almost happened to Vito and indeed as a sort of a side effect, did happen to Sonny and had Michael not taken the bull by the horns, the entire family could have been destroyed, children orphaned and wives widowed.
    – Jeff
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 18:28
  • @howler - yes, and people inside the family probably knew that about Sonny, but since Vito was always in charge, I don't think outsiders could have known the stubborn ends Sonny would have gone through. It seemed like those within the family could barely believe that Sonny went to the extremes he did after the attempt. Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 19:39

The real conflict was between Don Corleone's connections and the potential drug trade. Don Corleone correctly knew that his bribed "friends" would abandon him and by proxy the families, if they engaged in drug trafficking. The other families, especially Barzini and the Tattaglias, were greedy. They just couldn't pass up the money, so they kept pressing him to go along with the plan.

But their plan was short sighted and foolish, something Don Corleone understood and taught to Michael. Sonny's mouth was probably only a minor enticement along the way, as the assassination was the final domino in a long cascade. They assumed if Sonny didn't play ball, they would kill him too, but found that difficult when Don Corleone lived and maintained all his powerful "friends".

  • In my opinion this is the correct answer. The dialog was pretty clear that the other heads were not happy that the Don refused to offer protection from the police for the drug trafficking. If the Don had agreed, there would have been no reason for Sollozzo to want to kill him, they both would have made a ton of money.
    – Tim S.
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 20:27
  • vito knew it was short-sighted and he said as much to the turk but the dummy did not listen, made huge assumptions about the results of his actions and died. they seem to imply that he was clever but he was, i think, someone of limited intelligence who succeeded, for as long as he did (perhaps 10 or 20 years as an adult hoodlum) by his willingness to do violence. but even someone as intelligent as vito or michael had lives that only a foolish person would envy. you and i never have to worry about ourselves or family being murdered.
    – releseabe
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 11:45

Yes. Sonny's remark at the meeting is the reason why Sollozzo tries to have the Don whacked. He realizes that the vaunted Corleone family is not as unified as people think. Should he have realized that Sonny is going to want to go to the mattresses when the Don is killed? Yes, but that is why he kidnaps Tom Hagen to make sure that Sonny's "famous temper" doesn't rule the day. Sollozzo was impressed at the meeting that Tom knew the Tattaglias were behind the protection/finance deal ("my compliments") and probably thought Tom had more influence over Sonny than in fact he had.


Kind of late to say any thing, but After reading the book over the years and seeing all three Godfather movies, I have come to the conclusion that the Corleone Family trying to stay out of the narcotics trade all the previous years made the other families resentful. They all knew that it would be a big money maker in the future, and that the Corleone Family was the only thing standing in the way. Moe Green stated that the Corleone Family was through and that he no longer needed them. Don Vito Corleone's goal was the make all his family business legit and out of any other illegal business. The eventual plan was for the other families to eventually destroy those in the Corleone Family that did not want to get into other criminal enterprises and to split up what was left between the members of the commission. This is why Tessio decided to join forces with Barzini and Tataglia Families, and eliminate Michael. Michael beat them to the punch, but he could not succeed in making the Corleone Family legit.


Nobody knew it at the time but Barzini was pulling the strings. I believe Barzini wanted to be capo di tutti capi, boss of all bosses. He wanted what Vito had and eventually he was a marked man. I mean this was gonna happen one way or the other. Barzini was making a power play.

  • Even if that was the case (which it probably was) it had nothing to do with Sollozzo. He just wanted protection so he could sell his drugs.
    – Tim S.
    Commented Dec 8, 2017 at 20:28

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