In The Godfather films, actor Abe Vigoda played the role of Salvatore Tessio, the Brooklyn crime boss. Tessio is a memorable character but sadly meets an unfortunate end after he betrays the Corleone family. Here are some of the best Abe Vigoda Godfather quotes from The Godfather (1972) and in The Godfather Part II (1974).
What happened to Abe Vigoda’s character in The Godfather?
Before we review these Abe Vigoda quotes, it might be helpful to understand his character’s backstory and the reasons for his betrayal to the Corleone family.
Tessio and Vito Corleone, The Godfather, befriended each other when they were both young low-level street crooks. But as Vito Corleone rose to power, Tessio became one of Corleone’s most trusted caporegimes, or captains. After Corleone is shot, Tessio’s territory in Brooklyn comes under attack, and he wants to retaliate.
Michael Corleone, the younger son, assumes power after drug lord Virgil Sollozzo’s men shot Vito. The assignation attempt ignites a power war between the Five Families under Vito Corleone’s control. During the war, the second most powerful boss after Vito Corleone, Don Emilio “The Wolf” Barzini, moves in on Tessio’s territory in Brooklyn. But when Michael Corleone prevents any retaliation against Barzini, Tessio begins plotting Michael’s assignation.
“Pretty soon there won’t be anyplace in Brooklyn that I can hang my hat.”
- Tessio: Barzini’s people chisel my territory, and we do nothing about it. Pretty soon there won’t be anyplace in Brooklyn that I can hang my hat.
- Michael: Try and be patient.
- Clemenza: I’m not asking for help, Mike, just take off the handcuffs.
- Michael: Be patient.
- Clemenza: We gotta protect ourselves. At least give me the chance to recruit some new men.
- Michael: No. I don’t want to give Barzini any excuse to start fighting.
- Tessio: Mike, you’re wrong.
- Clemenza: Don Corleone, you once said the day would come when me and Tessio could form our own families. Until today I would never think of such a thing but now I must ask your permission.
- Don Corleone: Well, Michael’s head of the family now and if give his permission then you have my blessing.
- Michael: After we make the move to Nevada you can break off from the Corleone Family and go off on your own. After we make the move to Nevada.
- Clemenza: How long will that take?
- Michael: Six months.
- Tessio: Forgive me, Godfather, but with you gone, me and Pete will come under Barzini’s thumb sooner or later.
- Clemenza: And I hate that Goddamn Barzini. In six months time there won’t be nothin’ left to build on.
- Don Corleone: Do you have faith in my judgement?
- Clemenza: Yes.
- Don Corleone: Do I have your loyalty?
- Clemenza: Yes, always Godfather.
- Don Corleone: Then be a friend to Michael. Do as he says.
- Michael: There are negotiations being made that are going to answer all of your questions and solve all of your problems. That’s all I can tell you right now. Carlo, you grew up in Nevada. When we make our move there you’re going to be my right-hand man. Tom Hagen is no longer Consigliari. He’s going to be our lawyer in Vegas. That’s no reflection on Tom it’s just the way I want it. Besides, if I ever need help, who’s a better Consigliari than my father. That’s it.(Everyone except Hagen leaves)
- Tom Hagen: Mike, why am I out?
- Michael: You’re not a wartime Consigliari, Tom. Things could get rough with the move we’re making.
- Don Corleone: Tom, I advised Michael. I never thought you were a bad Consigliari. I thought Santino was a bad Don, rest in peace. Michael has all my confidence as do you. But there are reasons why you must have nothing to do with what’s going to happen.
- Tom Hagen: Maybe I could help.
- Michael: You’re out, Tom.
“After the hospital thing, Sonny got mad. We hit Bruno Tattaglia at four o’clock this morning.”
- (Clemenza and Michael arrive to find extra guards posted outside the house)
- Clemenza: What’s with all the new faces?
- Tessio: We’ll need ’em now. After the hospital thing, Sonny got mad. We hit Bruno Tattaglia at four o’clock this morning.
- Clemenza: …Jesus Christ.
“Can you get me off the hook, Tom? For old times’ sake?”
This scene marks the end of Tessio and the last of the Abe Vigoda godfather Quotes on this list. Once Tessio’s betrayal is discovered, Michael Corleone turns the tables on him. It’s a sad ending for Salvatore Tessio. In a last ditch effort for forgiveness, he attempts to leverage his longtime friendship with Vito Corleone and pleads to Tom Hagan to get him off the hook. Tom sadly replies, “Can’t do it, Sally.”
- (As Tessio and Hagen walk to Michael’s house, they are met by a bodyguard, Willi Cicci)
- Willi Cicci: Sal… Tom… the boss says he’ll come in a separate car. He says for you two to go on ahead.
- Tessio: Hell, he can’t do that; that screws up all my arrangements.
- Willi Cicci: Well, that’s what he said.
- Tom Hagen: I can’t go with you either, Tessio.
- (Just then, Michael’s bodyguards surround them and Tessio understands that he’s been caught)
- Tessio: (To Hagen) Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him.
- Tom Hagen: He understands that.
- Willi Cicci: (Removing Tessio’s gun) Excuse me, Sally.
- Tessio: Can you get me off the hook, Tom? For old times’ sake?
- Tom Hagen: (Shakes his head) Can’t do it, Sally.
- (Hagen watches sadly as Tessio is led by Cicci and the others to a waiting car)
The Connection Between Oranges And Death In The Godfather
If you see an orange in one of The Godfather films, then someone is about to die. Some of the more famous scenes with oranges include Vito Corleone’s attempted assignation at the fruit stand and his heart attack while eating an orange. But Abe Vigoda also casually tosses an orange up into the air right before his betrayal is exposed.
NERD NOTE: Abraham Charles Vigoda (February 24, 1921 – January 26, 2016) died one month before his 95th birthday. He passed away in his sleep natural causes while visiting his daughter, Carol Fuchs, at her Woodland Park, New Jersey home.