American Rhetoric: Movie Speech
"The Godfather: Part II" (1974)
Michael Corleone Testifies Before the Senate Committee
Committee Chairman: Are you the son of Vito Corleone?
Michael Corleone: Yes, I am.
Committee Chairman: And where was he born?
Michael Corleone: Corleone, Sicily.
Committee Chairman: Did he at times use an alias that was known in certain circles as "Godfather?"
Michael Corleone: Godfather is a term that was used by his friends -- one of affection, one of respect.
Senator Geary: Uh, Mr. Chairman, I would like to verify the witness's statement. For years now a growing number of my constituents have been of Italian decent, and I've come to know them well. They have honored me with their support and with their friendship. Indeed, I can proudly say that some of my very best friends are Italian-Americans. However, Mr. Chairman, at this time, very unfortunately, I have to leave these proceedings in order to preside over a very important committee, my own committee. But before I leave I do want to say this: that these hearings on the Mafia are in no way whatsoever a slur upon the great Italian people. Because I can state from my own knowledge and experience that Italian-Americans are among the most loyal, most law-abiding, patriotic, hard working American citizens in this land. And it would be a shame, Mr. Chairman, if we allowed a few rotten apples to give a bad name to the whole barrel. Because from the time of the great Christopher Columbus up through the time of Enrico Fermi right up until the present day, Italian-Americans have been pioneers in building and defending our great nation. They are the salt of the earth, and they're one of the backbones of this country.
Committee Chairman: I'm sure we all agree with our esteemed college. Now, Mr. Corleone you have been advised as to your legal rights. We have testimony from a witness -- a previous witness -- one Willie Cicci. He has stated that you are head of the most powerful Mafia family in this country. Are you?
Michael Corleone: No, I'm not.
Committee Chairman: The witness has testified that you are personally responsible for the murder of a New York City police Caption in 1947 and with him a man named Virgil Sollozzo. You deny this?
Michael Corleone: Yes, I do.
Committee Chairman: Is it true that in -- in the year 1950 you devised the murder of the heads of the so-called "five families" in New York to assume and consolidate your nefarious power?
Michael Corleone: That's a complete falsehood.
Announcer: Mr. Questadt.
Senator Questadt: Is it true that you have a controlling interest in three of the major hotels in Las Vegas?
Michael Corleone: No, it is not true. I own some stock in some of the hotels there, but very little. I also have stock in IBM and IT&T.
Senator Questadt: Mr. Corleone, do you have any interests or control over gambling and narcotics in the state of New York?
Michael Corleone: No I do not.
Tom Hagen: Senator, my client would like to read a statement before this committee.
Committee Senator: Mr. Chairman -- Mr. Chairman, I think this statement is totally out of order at this time.
Tom Hagen: Sir, my client has answered every question asked by this committee with the utmost sincerity. He has not taken the 5th amendment, as it was his right to do. So in all fairness I think the statement should be heard.
[Senator Questadt whispers something to the Committee Chairman]
Committee Chairman: No, no I'm going to allow Mr. Corleone to read his statement. I'll put it in the record.
Michael Corleone: In the hopes of clearing my family name, and in the sincere desire to give my children the fair share of the American way of life, without a blemish on their name and background, I have appeared before this committee and given it all the cooperation in my power. I consider it a great dishonor to me personally to have to deny that I am a criminal. I wish to have the following noted for the record: that I served my country faithfully and honorably in World War II and was awarded the Navy Cross for actions in defense of my country; that I have never been arrested or indicted for any crime whatsoever; that no proof linking me to any criminal conspiracy whether it is called "Mafia" or "Cosa Nostra" or whatever other name you wish to give has ever been made public. I have not taken refuge behind the 5th amendment, though it is my right to do. I challenge this committee to produce any witness or evidence against me. And if they do not, I hope they will have the decency to clear my name with the same publicity with which they now have besmirched it.
Committee Chairman: I'm sure we're all quite impressed, Mr. Corleone, particularly with your love for our country. The committee will stand in recess until 10:00 am Monday morning, at which time the committee will produce a witness who will collaborate the charges which were made against you today, and at which time, Mr. Corleone, you may very well be subject to indictment for perjury. I remind you that you're still under subpoena, Mr. Corleone. This court is adjured.