This scene is another of my all time favourite scenes. I think that The Godfather is an amazing film in its entirety, but this scene sums up everything that is great about it. It is the scene that really announced Al Pacino to the world; where he "made his bones" in the parlance of the 1950s New York mafia. I'm talking of course of the scene in Louis Italian American diner where Michael Corleone shoots Sollozzo and McCluskey in cold blood.
The lead up to the scene is wonderfully atmospheric too, making sure that their car doesn't have a tail, Sollozzo being a bit suspicious of Mike when he asks if they're going to New Jersey. Al Pacino is simply supberb. In the diner he is obviously nervous; even before he goes to the bathroom, he is obviously not comfortable, and he has to switch from Italian to English so that he can think straight. When he returns from the bathroom there is a great shot of Sollozzo and McCluskey over Michael's shoulder; and then when he sits down it is all about Michael's eyes. As Sollozzo continues to talk, we slowly zoom in to Pacino's eyes; they are all over the place. He's not listening to Sollozzo, he is psyching himself up, waiting for the best opportunity, not believing what he is about to do. There is so much emotion conveyed simply by his darting eyes.
Then as Sollozzo's voice begins to fade, the sound of a passing train get louder and louder, echoing Michaels turmoil, and then Bang, Bang, Bang. The look of surprise on McCluskey's face is priceless. Contrary to most of my favourite cinematic moments, there is no music here at all, it is all about Pacino; and he is amazing. I think I remember hearing on the DVD extras that this was Pacino's audition scene. As soon as Coppola had seen this performance, he knew that he had found Michael Corleone; and a star was born. Amazing scene, and a fantastic film.