The Godfather, Part II — 1974

Posted on June 21, 2013 by Robert Ringer Comments (7)


“My father taught me many things here.   He taught me in this room.  He taught me, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” 

Just about everyone who hasn’t been hiding out in a cave the past forty years is familiar with this chilling line from The Godfather, Part II.  When Michael Corleone, in his quest to find out who the traitor in his family is (which turns out to be his brother Fredo), is giving instructions to one of his lieutenants, he chillingly says to him:  “My father taught me many things here.  He taught me in this room.  He taught me, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

I had really never thought about the idea of keeping your enemies close until I first heard this line in Mario Puzo’s classic film.  Since then, however, I’ve given it a lot of thought and still find myself a bit conflicted by the advice Don Vito Corleone (Michael’s father, Marlon Brando) handed down to him.

When someone has an axe to grind with you, I can see where it might be a good idea to keep him in close proximity rather than having him running around loose trying to cause you grief.  On the other hand, people who have a tendency to get mad and carry grudges are often neurotic, and one of my firm rules in life — which I talk about extensively in Looking Out for #1 — is to stay as far away from neurotics as possible.  Otherwise, you run the risk of their wasting too much of your time by luring you into mud wrestling with them.

So I guess where I come down on the subject is that I can see why a Mafioso, who lives in a world where murder is always on the table, would want to keep his potential assassins close so he knows where they are and what they’re up to at all times.  But in normal, day-to-day life, I still think it makes a lot more sense to keep those who are intent on causing you trouble as far away as possible.  Life really is awfully short.

Either way, here’s that never-to-be-forgotten, Hall of Fame line from The Godfather, Part II: 


Robert Ringer

+Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

7 responses to “The Godfather, Part II — 1974”

  1. Ragnar says:

    Great line from the movie but the best one is "politics and crime – they are the same thing".

  2. texas wolfie says:

    My favorite line from that movie is" We are all part of the same hypocrisy Senator."

  3. jerry says:

    You missed the deeper point about keeping your enemies close. You can keep tabs on them through a good information network. Pay insiders for big money for worth while info, etc.

  4. The piece of dialogue is oft repeated truth. From time immemorial, the sages advised that your enemy is your best5 friend, since he will keep on finding out your faults and pointing them out to you, thus giving you a chance to move towards perfection.Your friends, out of their decency would refrain from criticizing you and thus lull you into complacency. But what Mr.Ringer says is also true. Those who have nothing but negativism to contribute and make a fetish of it are best away from. We can remove ourselves from their presence.

  5. david says:

    It's a great movie isn't it?? Maybe a better line is when he's talking with his consigliere after the assination attempt on him, he says, Pop, taught me to think like the people around you think.. and on that basis anything's possible…

  6. Pitch says:

    I see you really have stopped watching TV and the Tsunami of daily BS…and now spend your days/nights watching and reviewing old movies…I think a good rule of thumb is just exactly as you have said: Stay as far away from neurotic nuts as you possibly can, unless of course you fall into that category too! And then of course you’ll find yourself surrounded by like minded fools no matter what you do and you better be watching your back.

  7. Bernard N. says:

    The Godfather is the famous movie and that was quite popular among people of early 90’s. I don’t watch that movie but watch its trailer and found best online resume useful, pretty enjoyable and full of action. I heard the story of the movie from my brother and he was very excited.

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