Did Paulie and Carlo Join The Conspiracies For Which They Were Killed? (The Godfather)

The Godfather is one of the finest gangster films seen in the last century. It is the story of the puissant American-Italian mafia family. The movie showcased how big Italian families are and how they manage organized crime, just like other families running their businesses. Such were the principles of the Corleone family that no matter how loyal any member had been, their one act of treachery led them to their deaths. It was exactly what happened with Carlo and Paulie. They both decided their death-time when they decided to conspire against the Corleone family. Sonny killed Paulie for his involvement in the hit on Vito, and Michael murdered Carlo for his role in the hit on Sonny. 

But were they really behind the conspiracies, or did suspicion of their involvement alone lead them to their death?

Yes, they were found guilty of conspiring against their own family. Let us find out how they were involved in the conspiracy against the Corleone family and how they got caught.

How did Paulie betray Vito Corleone?

Paulie Gatto was a personal chauffeur to Vito Corleone and his right-hand man. He sold Vito’s schedule for the bribe he received from Sollozzo’s goon, which assisted them in planning and executing the hit on Vito. Paulie sealed his fate when he got involved in the conspiracy to kill Vito Corleone. 

Why Was Paulie Caught So Easily?

When Sonny noticed his absence on the day of the hit on Vito, he got suspicious, considering that it could not be a coincidence. So he ordered his men in the phone company to pull out call records of Paulie. Sonny found out that during his three months leave, Paulie received several phone calls across the street near the Genco olive oil offices, where the hit took place. That the calls were from Sollozzo’s office, Sonny got sure that it was not a coincidence and that Paulie Gatto was guilty of being involved in the attempted murder of Vito Corleone.

All such details might not be concrete in the eyes of the law, but for Sonny, they were solid enough to prove Paulie’s guilt. Sonny had Paulie killed to set an example in front of everyone- to show everyone how Corleones treated a traitor in their family. No family member was above loyalty, and all betrayals against the family were to be dealt with in the same way.

But Carlo was their family member and son-in-law of Don Corleone. So why did he plan to kill his wife’s brother? And how did he get caught by Michael?

Why did Carlo betray the Corleone Family?

Carlo married Connie Corleone, Vito’s only daughter, to secure his place in the Corleone family. But his father-in-law Vito Corleone disregarded him and kept him out of the family business by providing him sports book shop under family protection. Furious with his minor role, Carlo began abusing and cheating on Connie. Don Corleone was outraged, but his Italian traditions forbade him to interfere in his daughter’s marriage, and he instructed his sons not to barge into this matter. One day, when Sonny visited Connie after the attempted hit on their father, Sonny found her badly bruised after being beaten by Carlo. It infuriated Sonny, and he beat Carlo ruthlessly on the street and threatened to kill him if he ever abused his sister again. Following the incident, Carlo felt humiliated. Also, because of the Five Families War, his shop shut down. So, he joined hands with their arch-rival Emilio Barzini to get Sonny out of his way and maybe allow them to negotiate a deal to sell drugs in Corleone territory. They made a plan to get Sonny out without any security protection so that Barzini’s men would attack him when he was vulnerable.

What Was Carlo’s Plan, And How Was It Supposed To Work? 

Carlo made a simple plan to get Sonny out without any security. He knew that Sonny was a man of his word and had a ferocious temper. So he set up a call from one of his girlfriends to Connie, who took the call and confronted her, and their argument caused Carlo to beat her senselessly. Naturally, she called Sonny and informed him of everything. Subsequently, as per Carlo’s plan, enraged Sonny fumed out without any protection to confront and kill Carlo. Little did he know that Barzini’s men were waiting at the toll booth to attack him at the first chance they got. When Sonny reached the toll booth, the goons attacked him by barraging gunfire and shooting him to his death instantly.  

After the death of Sonny, Don Vito forbade any investigation related to his son’s death, and he concluded that Barzini Family was responsible for the murder of Sonny Corleone. But he and Tom knew that Carlo was the traitor. Once again, his tradition of not killing his daughter’s husband spared the life of his son-in-law. 

After some time, Michael became the acting head of the family, and he probably knew from the start that it was Carlo who betrayed the family and was responsible for the death of his brother. So he kept Carlo close to him as his right-hand man to gain more insights about him and be sure of his suspicion before confronting and killing him.

So how did Michael figure out that Carlo was the traitor?

How Did Michael Figure Out That Carlo Was The Traitor? 

Michael: “You have to answer for Santino, Carlo…” 

Carlo: “…Mike, I’m innocent. I swear on the kids…It was Barzini.”  

After becoming the acting head of the family, Michael kept Carlo close to him and gave him all the responsibility and respect that he wanted from the start. He did this to make him alone, unsuspecting, and vulnerable to collect shreds of evidence against him. After years of rebuilding, Michael finally confronted the traitor after putting them at ease, giving him a false sense of security. But, how did Michael know that it was Carlo?

Although we can assume that he concluded that he saw through that little farce he played with his sister, however, upon looking into this further, it was not as simple as we all thought. 

After Michael’s takeover, a couple of years went by and he was now the new don. The time had come to settle all the family’s unfinished businesses, one of the most crucial being avenging his older brother’s murder. Don Vito and Tom Hagen knew from the beginning that the rat was from the family and their biggest suspect was Carlo. Since the don did not want to avenge his son at that time as he knew that would mean escalating the war further, he waited until he regrouped and was in a better position to avenge his fallen son. In addition, Vito could not bear making his daughter suffer and become a widow. When Michael took over as the don, Tom briefed him about everything that had happened while he was gone. So Michael came to the logical conclusion that Carlo was the one who pointed out Sonny to Barzini’s men. In addition, Carlo had the most to gain from Sonny’s demise. He clearly had the desire to see Sonny dead after all the humiliation and beatdowns. Michael played it strategically and waited for the right time to strike.

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