I tell people this is the pivotal scence, and the most powerful in the movie, but some disagree .
THIS, is the scene where Michael evolves from distant observer to the active member of the family and emerging Don. This is the turning point in Michael’s character, where he makes a decision that will not only affect him, but all the other characters and the entire story. The incitng incident was the attempt on his father’s life at the hospital, there he showed he was street wise in how he pretended he and the baker were armed and not naive or the school boy that he was seen as earlier in the film.
In this , it is revealed that Michael is more like his father than Sonny. The contrast seen between the two of them and their approach to the situation is very clear. It also shows why Sonny was easily lured and killed. While he’s all hot headed and quick to jump, Michael is calm and strategic, despite having being assaulted by the man he’s planning against. The difference in the kind of men they are and their leadership style is finalized here. THIS scene, is where he unofficially became the next Don.
Characters need to have identifiable moments like this, where they wake up and decide to do something.
Although, this was one of many moments with Michael, but as he monologues on how to take out Sollozo and McKluskey, and then use the news papers to soften the blowback for the killing, you can almost see him transforming before your eyes; and when he says, “it’s not personal, it’s strictly business”. You can tell that , the Michael in the army uniform in the opening scene that seperated himself from his family, has disappeared and a formidable force has taken over.