As a sequel, The Godfather Part II is about the best the film industry has produced, with perhaps one or two other contenders. It launched the career of Robert De Niro, who played a young Vito Corleone, and came out just a couple years after the original with nearly the same cast and crew.
Not merely a continuation of a story, it’s also a remarkable film in its own right that tells two parallel stories. It alternates between a narrative that follows Michael on his rise to power, which is a direct continuation of the events of the first movie, and a separate narrative that is essentially a prequel to The Godfather that begins with Vito as a young child in Sicily and his journey to America.
As Vito’s family grows and he becomes an early version of the respected mob boss and patriarch we met in the first film, Michael becomes increasingly isolated as he becomes paranoid (and justly so, for the most part), growing apart from his immediate family—his wife and kids—and his extended family begins to crumble as well.
It culminates with Michael being forced to kill his only living brother, Fredo, after a foolish betrayal that almost cost Michael his life. We see Vito extract a similar amount of revenge of his own, but his actions are arguably justified and personal, and they conclude with him returning to America, his growing family intact.
Through sheer ruthlessness he comes out on top, but the film ends with Michael sitting alone amidst the blowing autumn leaves, wracked by regret and sadness.
Double Barrel Shotgun
Often cited as the best sequel ever made, and possibly the only sequel that is (arguably) better than the original, The Godather Part II opens with a funeral in Sicily for Vito’s father (who at the time still has his original last name of Andolini), who ran afoul of a local mob boss. During the funeral, shots ring out, and Vito’s older brother, who swore vengeance, is found dead nearby on the rocks.
In a last ditch effort to save her remaining son, Vito’s mother takes him to the home of Don Ciccio, who is responsible for the murder of most of her family. She pleads for Vito’s life, claiming he is slow-witted and would never come after Ciccio, but the gangster isn’t having it, so Mama Andolini resorts to her plan B, putting a large knife to Don Ciccio’s throat and screaming for Vito to run.
Vito does, as he hears his mother shotgunned to death behind him by Ciccio’s guards, who are carrying sawed-off double-barrel shotguns with exposed hammers. In the book, the guards are carrying “Lupara” shotguns, which also have the stocks cut down to a pistol grip, but the guards’ shotguns have full stocks.
Lake Tahoe Assassination Attempt
As the movie shifts back to Michael’s story in the 1950s, he is holding a lavish party for his son’s First Holy Communion at his Lake Tahoe compound, having moved the family from New York to the West Coast.
After the party, as the family settles into their home, machine gun fire tears through Michael and Kay’s bedroom. No one is hurt, but the would-be assassins are found dead one the compound in a drainage ditch alongside their Madsen M50 submachine guns.
New York City, 1917
Merwin & Hulbert Break-Top Revolver
Back to Vito’s (Robert DeNiro) story, as a young man trying to make his way in the New York City of old, he is coerced by a neighbor into holding a bunch of revolvers, one of which, at least, is a Merwin & Hulbert break-top revolver.
A similar revolver is used by the actor on-stage when Vito goes to the theater with his friend. This is where he first sees Don Fanucci (Gastone Moschin) and old-school, small-time mobster who is taking advantage of immigrant business owners in Vito’s neighborhood, including his boss at the grocery. In addition to shaking down everyone in the area and threatening them and their loved ones with violence, Fannucci forces Vito’s boss to fire him so he can give his nephew a job.
A young Clamenza also pulls the revolver when a cop rings the doorbell of the house where he and Vito are stealing a rug.
Vito Corleone’s Webley Mk VI
When Vito and his friends begin some small-time criminal activities of their own, like stealing a truckload of dresses to sell, Fannucci seeks him out, demanding his taste of the profits.
At that point, Vito takes leadership of his small three-person gang and tells them he will deal with Fannucci. He meets with the mobster, buying some time, before following him through a street festival to his apartment, where Vito kills the white-suited gangster with a Webley Mk VI revolver wrapped in a sheet to help muffle the sound.
Famously, the sheet catches on fire after Vito fires his second shot and he has to hastily unwrap it from his hand.
As Vito flees from the scene of the murder along the neighborhood rooftops, he smashes the revolver, breaking it into as many pieces as he can, and proceeds to stuff the parts down different chimneys protruding from the rooftops as the festival continues on the streets below.
Present Day NYC
Carmine Rosato’s Colt Detective Special
Back in the 1950s, forces are conspiring against Michael and his family as he tries to expand forcefully into the casino business, as well as other business ventures in Cuba.
In an attempt to sow dissension in his family, Carmine Rosato (Carmine Caridi) attempts to murder Frankie Pentangeli, one of the Corleone underbosses, in a New York City bar by strangulation. Carmine pulls a nickel Colt Detective Special as a policeman enters, interrupting the murder attempt. A shootout then erupts outside as the assassins make their escape. Pentangeli lives, thinking Michael tried to have him killed, and agrees to testify against the Corleone family in exchange for protective custody.
Willi Cicci’s Colt Detective Special
In the shootout outside the bar where Pantangeli is almost killed, his bodyguard, Willi Cicci, is seen firing a nickel Colt Detective Special while wounded, before being hit by a car. Cicci survives and is seen testifying in the Senate hearings later in the movie, though he his less than forthcoming with his answers, though he admits to being a button-man for the mafia.
Colt New Service
Michael’s creepy, nameless bodyguard (Amerigo Tot) is sent to Cuba to assassinate the ailing Hyman Roth (Lee Strasburg) in his hospital room on New Year’s Eve. As he is attempting to smother the old man with a pillow, a Cuban police officer bursts in and kills the bodyguard with what looks to be a Colt New Service revolver.
Hyman Roth’s Assassination
Rocco Lampone’s Colt Detective Special
Hyman Roth is finally killed in an airport as he returns to the U.S. after a failed attempt to live in Israel. He is gunned down by Rocco Lampone (Tom Rosqui) who is posing as a reporter using what looks like a Colt Detective Special revolver. The scene happens fast, and it appears to be a suicide mission for Rocco, who is quickly gunned down by the numerous law enforcement agents who were escorting Roth through the airport.