On Patronage

In the opening of the film The Godfather, Don Vito Corleone is visited by Johnny Fantone, a young singer who is trying to make a name for himself in Hollywood. Don Corleone has already helped Johnny to get where he is in Las Vegas, having made his band leader the offer he couldn’t refuse. Now Don Corleone agrees to help him break into movies. Everyone who has seen that film knows what happens next: the blood in the bed, the terror in the night. Don Corleone has ways of getting what he wants.

Now The Godfather is a movie, and what’s in it may not be the exact truth. But what interests me today is not so much the glamour or the horror of specific incidents, or even the tragedy inherent in those who (like Michael Corleone) are destined to be Dons, but the circumstances in which mafia-like organizations arise.


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