Francis Ford Coppola reinvented the gangster genre with his 1972 masterpiece “The Godfather”, a film chronicling the syndicate of a New York mafia family headed by Vito Corleone (Brando). The story unfolds as his beloved son Michael returns from war a hero with no interest to join the family business. However, after the don declines a business proposition involving the selling of drugs, his rivals attempt a hit that triggers a war and changes the future of Michael.
This pivotal turning point unfolds as Vito strolls through Little Italy to buy oranges from a fruit stand. Coppola used oranges symbolically throughout the trilogy to foreshadow bad things to come and here is perhaps the most memorable example of such use.
After buying the fruit Don Vito moves towards Fredo (Cazale) who is waiting for him at the parked car. Suddenly, two men walk briskly towards the don. Upon seeing them he drops his paper bag and darts quickly towards the car. They catch up and shoot five bullets into his back. Fredo tries to retaliate but instead hysterically fumbles with the gun. His trembling hands cause it to fall amid the rolling fruit.
Other than the horror of witnessing our main character getting gunned down within the first half hour, the real shock is in seeing the hit take place at the don’s own territory. The scene was shot Little Italy, New York using the exteriors of an old loft building at 128 Mott Street.