Who Played it Best: Don Vito Corleone

We take a look at the portrayals of Mario Puzo's Don Vito Corleone - who played him best? Marlon Brando or Robert de Niro? Read on to find out!

Don Vito Corleone

The Godfather himself, the man who started it all. Vito Corleone was a character created by Mario Puzo and became one of the greatest movie characters of all time thanks to Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation in 1972. As the Head of the the Corleone mafia family in New York, we’re presented here with Corleone as an old man and a young boy by two very different actors.

Marlon Brando in The Godfather

Our first taste of Don Corleone was in the initial Godfather movie which won Brando the coveted Best Actor Oscar – an award which he famously turned down. The puffed out cheeks, that ‘voice’ and the loyal ‘man of reason’ with a sinister agenda bubbling just below the surface, Brando’s portrayal as the Mob leader was one of Brando’s best, if not THE best, performance of his career. Brando’s Corleone was an old and world weary strategist with a great love for his family and over-tired yet ruthless involvement in organised crime.

Robert De Niro

The Godfather, Part Two: Another Oscar win for Robert De Niro as the young Vito Corleone in the 1974 sequel which – due to the Don’s death eating an orange at the end of the movie – results in some incredible flashbacks of his early life in Sicily and his arrival in America. De Niro’s Corleone is a strong but silent type; fleeing as a young man from Sicily and his life as Vito Andolini following the murder of his father, mother and brother by mafioso boss Don Ciccio. We then see Vito’s transformation from a struggling immigrant living poorly with his wife and young son to a corrupt businessman and cold-blooded killer. Dark stuff.

The Verdict: It’s an extremely close call but Brando’s Don Corleone wins hands down whilst the third Vito-less instalment sleeps with the fishes.

Read our review of The Godfather (novel) here!

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