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Characters / The Godfather - Corleone Family Associates

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Corleone Family | Corleone Family Associates | Other Crime Bosses

Various henchmen, allies and "business associates" of the Corleone family.
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     Peter Clemenza
"You know, you gotta stop them at the beginning. Like they should have stopped Hitler at Munich, they should never let him get away with that, they was just asking for trouble."
Portrayed By: Richard Castellano (The Godfather), Bruno Kirby (Part II)

One of Vito's caporegimes, who helped initiate Vito's criminal career and became one of his most trusted advisors. Serves as a mentor to Michael and other members of the Family.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Acrofatic: Both the book and the film show him as a surprisingly agile dancer at the Corleone wedding.
  • Affably Evil: To his friends and associates, Clemenza's regarded as a friendly, jovial kind of guy, always happy to talk and always happy to share his tales of the good old days.
  • Big Fun: Seems to provide a comedic scene or two, the quote above being the top example on how funny he can get.
  • The Big Guy: As a Capo of the family, he takes a direct role in controlling the movements of the family soldiers; for good measure, he's occasionally called upon to act as a hitman.
  • Bond One-Liner: "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."
  • Bus Crash: He dies of a heart attack — although Cicci implies foul play — between the events of the first and second films and his position as capo of the Corleone family's New York branch passes to Frank Pentangeli, his Suspiciously Similar Substitute. This was not originally going to happen; the reason for this change was a disagreement between actor Richard Castellano and Coppola (Castellano wanted creative control over his character and Coppola would not allow it, so Castellano was dropped from the film).
  • Cool Uncle: To Vito's children, even if not by blood.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: While killing Carlo Rizzi.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Dialogue in the second film implies that he died of a heart attack between movies.
  • Formerly Fit: In Part II, when played by Bruno Kirby in his youth, Clemenza was a lot skinnier than when played by Richard Castellano. Though the younger Clemenza is a bit thicker than the younger Vito and Tessio and can be seen eating a lot. His final scene in the flashback shows him gaining much more weight.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Vito and Tessio.
  • Ironic Name: The professional killer's last name means "mercy" in Italian.
  • Honorary Uncle: To Vito's children.
  • Fat Bastard: Has a reputation for violent, ruthless tactics in gang wars.
  • Hidden Depths: An excellent cook, even showing Michael how to make spaghetti sauce, and a history buff who compares Sollozzo's actions to Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch.
    • The movie additionally emphasizes how Tessio is the "smarter" of the two Corleone Capos, but Clemenza demonstrates a fairly calculating demeanor when walking Michael through the best way to assassinate Sollozzo and McCluskey.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Personally kills Carlo Rizzi by strangling him in a car. It was probably personal since Sonny, who Carlo lured to his death, was Clemenza's godson.
  • The Mentor: According to the book, he taught Sonny how to fight and kill, though he was a bit disappointed that Sonny never showed any particular liking for the garotte. In both the film and the book, he also advises Michael on carrying out the killing of Sollozzo and McCluskey.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Loosely based on Frank Labruzzo, Joe Bonanno's brother-in-law who stayed loyal to him even during the tumultuous Bananas Wars in the 1960s. Also had some elements of Joe Magliocco, Giuseppe Profaci's underboss and cousin, and as well as Vincent Gigante, Vito Genovese's protege and future boss. The assassination of Victor Stracci by Clemenza was partially based on the botched hit on Frank Costello in 1957; Gigante's unintentional warning only grazed Costello's scalp, but Costello saw the writing on the wall and later stepped down as boss.
  • Real Men Dont Cry: Averted in The Godfather Returns, he will not watch Tessio's execution because "there are some things a guy doesn't want to see."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to Tessio's blue.
  • Undying Loyalty: There's a lot of love between him and Vito and Vito's family. In the end he's the one who remains loyal to them whilst Tessio and Frankie betray them.

     Salvatore Tessio
We hit Bruno Tattaglia at four o'clock this morning.
"Tell Mike it was only business. I always liked him."

Portrayed By: Abe Vigoda (The Godfather), John Aprea (Part II)

Another associate of Vito's from the old days, a Corleone family capo based in Brooklyn, considered more cautious and intelligent than Clemenza.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Been There, Shaped History: The novel narrates that he killed Salvatore Maranzano in a Brooklyn restaurant.
  • The Cameo: Briefly appears in Part II.
  • Defector from Decadence: It's implied that Michael's apparent weakness and lack of resolution (a ruse meant to lull the other families into a false sense of security as well as to force the hand of any potential traitors) is the reason behind his betrayal. Factored in and hinted by the two main capos announcing their intention to spin-off from the Family because of Michael's incapacity to defend their own territories.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Once it's clear that he can't talk his way out of his execution, he calmly and willingly steps into the car without another word of protest.
    • Subverted in the game, where you have to chase him down and kill him and he begs for his life.
  • The Mole: Secretly works for Barzini.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Loosely based on Gaspar DiGregorio, a capo in the Bonanno family, a trusted friend, and distant relative of Joe Bonanno. But when Bonanno promoted his son Bill to consigliere, this left hard feelings on DiGregorio, who then plots with rival bosses (who were already incensed with Bonanno's plot to kill them) to orchestrate Bonanno's ouster, splitting the family into two rival factions. Like Tessio, who set up Michael for an assassination in a supposed "sit-down", DiGregorio arranged an ambush on Bonanno's son, but not a single shot aimed by DiGregorio's men hit their intended target. But unlike Tessio, who gets a "one-way ride", DiGregorio was rebuked by the Commission for his incompetence on the ambush against Bill Bonanno and was forced to step down, living in relative obscurity until his death in 1970.
  • Nothing Personal: After being discovered as Don Barzini's mole in the Corleone family, he explains that nothing about his betrayal was personal.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue to Clemenza's red.
  • The Smart Guy: Considered the smarter of the two Caporegimes, and usually makes the tactical decisions of the Family soldiers.

     Luca Brasi
"Don Corleone, I am honoured and grateful that you have invited me to your home today on the day of your daughters wedding... and I hope that their first child, be a masculine child."
Portrayed By: Lenny Montana

Vito's feared bodyguard and personal hatchet man.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the novel Luca was infamous for his violence and cruelty with a couple of brutal murders and even the murder of his own infant child to his name. The Corleone family even fears him and his allegiance to them isn't guaranteed as much as they'd like. The film omits many of his harsher actions, including the infanticide and on the whole his major scene of him at the party serves to humanize him as a bumbling but still affectionate follower of Vitos. Similarly the Corleone family is more confident in his loyalty and there's never any fear of him turning on them.
  • Ax-Crazy: Implied to be one in the book.
  • The Dragon: He is the Corleone's most trusted bodyguard, though he's also The Brute.
  • The Dreaded:
    • In the novel even Vito is afraid of him, to the point of being apprehensive when he has to receive Brasi's congratulations on his daughter's wedding day despite Brasi being the only one of these visitors not to include the request of a favour with the congratulations. When Sollozzo's men make it clear to the Corleones that they have killed Brasi, the Corleones are relieved to know that Sollozo had not turned him and that he isn't coming after them.
    • As this Cracked article notes, the movie inverts this; the fact that the huge and terrifying Brasi is seen nervously reciting his speech to Corleone only to awkwardly stutter through it and mess it up when actually in the Don's presence makes it clear exactly who the really scary one in this version is. Although even then, the Don is uncomfortable around him, as evidenced by him asking Tom if it's necessary for him to meet with Luca that day.
  • Dumb Muscle: He would often have to rehearse what he said to someone before speaking with them.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Clearly seen struggling with English during his introduction at the wedding, but has no problems using colloquial Italian later.
  • Fake Defector: Don Corleone sends him to infiltrate the gang of Sollozzo to garner information, but Sollozzo is wise to the plot and Luca ends up sleeping with the fishes.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: To extreme levels.
  • Hidden Depths: The movie doesn't make him look particularly intelligent, but the book explains how part of what made him so dangerous was his ability to commit murders all by himself; most enforcers need backup on a hit. And when you commit a murder by yourself, there's no one to tell the police what happened.
  • Informed Ability: None of the brutality that he is supposedly capable of is seen on screen, but everyone talks about it. The only story told about Brasi is fairly meek compared to the on-screen action: Michael tells Kay that Brasi once pointed a gun to a music director to extort him to sign Johnny Fontane away. When Don Vito gives Brasi the task of pretending to go work for Sollozzo, Brasi fails and gets killed before doing anything. The book is more explicit about Brasi's savagery although always as Offstage Villainy in the distant past.
    • Justified thematically in that Luca, like Vito, is getting older and his Glory Days (such as they were) are behind him.
  • Jerkass: He's a bumbling thug in the film who is revealed to be a horrible human being in the novel.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Averted in the book when he's strangled.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Brasi was mostly based on Willie "Moore" Moretti, Frank Costello's right-hand man. He also had some elements of Albert Anastasia, a vicious mob boss, and Carmine Galante, a violent hit man and underboss to Joe Bonanno.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: In the book, he has his half Irish illegitimate baby killed because he believes "None of that race should live."
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Went on one after an attempt on Vito's life in the Olive Oil War. It took Vito recovering and personally calling him off to avoid Luca dropping enough bodies to make peace impossible. The Turk has him killed before they attempt to kill Vito to avoid this happening to him.
  • The Sociopath: More evident in the novel than the film.
  • The Worf Effect: Established as Don Corleone's most fearsome right-hand man at the beginning of the first film, but then is quickly taken out by the Tattaglia family to show the grave danger the Corleones are facing.

     Aldo Trapani 
"Everybody loses something."

Portrayed By: Andrew Pifko (The Godfather [video game]), Rick Pasqualone (The Godfather II [video game])
The protagonist of the first film's 2006 video game adaptation. A young Corleone recruit who can rise through the ranks of Mafia hierarchy. In the game's sequel The Godfather II, Aldo is murdered shortly after the start of the game.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Been There, Shaped History: He is responsible for helping Rocco in removing Khartoum's head and placing it in Woltz's bed, beating the two kids who tried to rape Bonasera's daughter, assassinating both Paulie Gatto and Salvatore Tessio for betraying the Family, hiding the pistol Michael would use to kill Sollozzo and McCluskey, and participating in the assassination of the heads of the Five Families.
  • Retcon: It's a goal to become "Don of New York" in the game, with a cinematic showing it is exactly what it sounds like as he oversees Manhattan in a high rise building with Mafia dons as his lackeys. Come to "Part II" and he's a capo with no hints of having rose anywhere above it.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Briefly appears in Part II.
  • Villain Protagonist: While he certainly is better than his enemies, and maintains a good relationship with everyone he meets, he still beats and maims shop owners for protection money and dives head-first into the Mafia lifestyle with no hesitation.
  • You Killed My Father: He guns down Barzini at the steps of the City Hall.

     Al Neri
"Look! I'd love to smack Joey Zasa and then whack the bag, Okay? But it's impossible. He's always mingling with people. In front of TV cameras, in his own neighborhood, it's impossible."
"[referring to Tom Hagen and Neri] I trust these men with my life, Senator. To ask them to leave would be an insult."
Michael Corleone
Portrayed By: Richard Bright

A former NYPD cop expelled for Police Brutality, he was taken in by the Corleones as a hitman. Eventually became Michael's right-hand man and his most trusted bodyguard and advisor.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: By the second film, he becomes one of Michael's most trusted subordinates. And by the third, he's next to Connie in terms of power in the Family.
  • Co-Dragons: With Rocco, for Michael.
  • Cowboy Cop: What got him fired from the Force and into the Family.
  • The Dragon: He and Rocco take over as Michael's main enforcers and gunmen. Al also survives the second film unlike Rocco which leaves him as the sole Dragon.
  • The Dreaded: One assumes this after Tom says of him to Michael "Now you've got your Luca."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A small moment, but you can see that he looks down after Michael orders him to kill Fredo with just a look.
  • Genius Bruiser: Genius might be an overstatement, but Al is very intelligent and Michael seeks and trusts his input.
  • Impersonating an Officer: He does this in order to assassinate Barzini.
    • In the books, Al Neri was previously an actual police officer until he killed a perpetrator while on the job rather than arresting him. The Corleones took a look at the circumstances and decided to provide him a high-powered defence to get him off the hook at the later trial, after which he came to work for the family.
  • Kick the Dog: To blackmail Senator Geary in Part II the Mob kills an innocent hooker and positions it near him as he sleeps to make him think he did it. It's implied that Al was the one who killed her.
  • Lawman Gone Bad: In the novel, he is revealed to be an incorruptible but ferocious cop. When a Pay Evil unto Evil situation does not quite go as planned, he winds up convicted of manslaughter. Michael gets him off with a suspended sentence; in gratitude, he becomes Michael's most trusted bodyguard and Professional Killer.
  • Mook Promotion: He goes from a "Button Man" to Michael's trusted caporegime.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Loosely based on Carmine Galante, a vicious hitman and underboss to Joe Bonanno.
  • The Quiet One: Says nothing in the first film, and only a few scattered lines in the second.
  • The Stoic: The closest thing he exhibits to an emotion is concentration when preparing to kill Barzini.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Michael.

     Rocco Lampone
"These things happen, nobody's perfect."
"Difficult, not impossible."

Portrayed By: Tom Rosqui

A Corleone soldier who works his way from hitman to trusted advisor.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: Like Neri, has much more screen time and importance in Part II than the original.
  • Co-Dragons: With Neri, for Michael.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Kills Roth before being gunned down.
  • Handicapped Badass: In the novel, Rocco suffered a crippling knee injury during World War II, which didn't prevent him from being a tough and efficient assassin. This backstory's left out of the film.
  • Mook Promotion: He goes from a "Button Man" to Michael's caporegime.
  • Rite of Passage: Killing Paulie is how Rocco 'makes his bones'

     Willie Cicci
"The family had a lot of buffers."

Portrayed By: Joe Spinell

Another Corleone soldier who becomes Frank Pentangeli's aide in Part II. Like his boss he testifies before the Senate committee investigating Michael, albeit without providing useful evidence.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: While named in the books in the first film his name goes unsaid despite his killing of Cuneo and Tessio however in the second film he gets far more lines and screen time.
  • Bus Crash: He was reportedly supposed to have a major part in Part III but after Coppola learned of the death of actor Joe Spinell, the character was changed to Joey Zaza. Interestingly enough, Cicci was one of the loose ends from ''Part II'' as his final fate was left unclear. Most assume that he would have been dead by then (probably killed in prison), given his violation of omertà.
  • Dumb Muscle: Implied in Part II; Cicci can't understand the Senators' questions ("Could you amplify your answer a bit?" "Huh?") without an attorney prompting him. Though it's also possible he's Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Made of Iron: Dude was shot then struck by a car and survived.
  • Mook Promotion: He is a button in Part I and became Frank Pentangeli's capo in Part II. In Part III he was originally planned to be the one who took over Michael's New York operation after he became legitimate, but actor Joe Spinell died before filming began. He was replaced by a new character, Joey Zasa.
  • Number Two: Becomes this to Frank Pentangeli in Part II.
  • Slasher Smile: When he kills Cuneo in the first film.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Along with Pentangeli in Part II.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Due to the Bus Crash mentioned above, his fate's left unresolved after his Senate testimony. He gets prison time anyway due to his admission of crimes that he committed. It is not known what ultimately happened to him but most assume that he would eventually have been killed in prison due to his violation of omertà.

     Frank "Frankie Five Angels" Pentangeli
"Your father did business with Hyman Roth, your father respected Hyman Roth, but your father never trusted Hyman Roth!"
"Those were the great old days, you know. And we was like the Roman Empire. The Corleone family was like the Roman Empire."

Portrayed by: Michael V. Gazzo

Clemenza's successor running the Corleone family's New York operations, he's quick-tempered and spoiling for a fight with Hyman Roth and his allies, the Rosato Brothers. He's eventually trapped into informing on Michael, and his incriminating testimony to the Senate becomes a major plot point.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Bath Suicide: In Part II, Tom Hagen visits him in prison and talks about this practice in the Roman Empire, hinting that if he does this his family will be spared. He does, and they are. The camera shot depicting the outcome is a Shout-Out to the painting The Death of Marat.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: He's initially introduced as a goofy comic relief character who tries in exasperation to get the Communion band to play a Tarantella. It's worth remembering that he's a high ranking lieutenant in the Corleone family, and in ''Part II' proper he becomes extremely dangerous by initially being willing to testify to Michael's criminal activities; unlike Willi Cicci he would have been able to implicate Michael directly.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Pentangeli is perfectly willing to openly call out Michael for his dealings with Roth, and is not shaken when Michael tries to cite his superiority.
  • Cassandra Truth: He warns Michael early on that Roth is behind his trouble with the Rosato brothers. Michael ignores him, to his peril.
  • Driven to Suicide: Slits his wrists after Tom pays him a visit so his family could be looked after..
  • Heel–Face Turn: Subverted, Pentangeli is put under Witness Protection and is going to testify against the Corleone family. Michael and Tom Hagen find a way to prevent him breaking the omertà; his brother shows up the day he has to testify. It's not stated if they stop Pentangeli by shaming him in front of his old school brother or there's some kind of Implied Death Threat going on. note 
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Family wants him dead, but Tom Hagen tells him that if he kills himself the Corleones will provide for his surviving family from that point on.
  • Hidden Depths: Demonstrates a knowledge of history, when he references the practice of attainted Romans committing suicide so that their families would be spared the Emperor's wrath. This is exactly what he does to atone for his betrayal.
  • Hot-Blooded: He'd much rather kill the Rosatos than talk with them.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Reportedly a composite of crime boss Joe Profaci (founder of the Colombo crime family and a notoriously greedy boss), Carmine Persico and informant Joe Valachi. The Rosato brothers' hit on Pentangeli resembles a similarly botched attack on Larry Gallo, down to the policeman interrupting.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on his face when he shares a look with his brother before the hearing, realizing what will happen if he violates the omertà (potentially to his family in particular).
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Cites the Rosatos hiring blacks and Hispanics as one reason he hates them so much. His comments towards Roth drip with thinly-veiled anti-Semitism, wondering how Michael could trust a Jew against "his own blood."
  • Remember the New Guy?: A classic example, with Fredo gushing over Frankie as a long-lost friend we'd never seen before.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Pentangeli was written to replace Clemenza when Castellano didn't return for Part II.
  • The Stool Pigeon: With Willie Cicci after he mistakenly assumes Michael put a hit out on him. Though he recants at the last minute when his brother paid him a visit.
  • Tragic Villain: He's essentially a pawn in Michael and Roth's conflict, becoming an antagonist through no fault of his own. He only turns against Michael after he's convinced that Michael tried to kill him.

     Senator Patrick Geary
"I despise your masquerade, the dishonest way you pose yourself. You and your whole fucking family."

Portrayed by: G.D. Spradlin

A crooked Nevada politician in Part II, whom Michael blackmails into supporting him.

This character exhibits examples of:

  • Anything That Moves: Hookers, night club singers, he's a womanizer and proud of it.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: He tries to extort and bully Michael... and not out of greed but because he's a racist spiteful bastard.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: How Tom blackmails him.
  • Malicious Misnaming: He publicly mispronounces "Corleone," only to pronounce it accurately in private conversation.
  • The Mole: He's part of the Senate committee investigating Michael while being blackmailed by the Corleones.
  • Mugging the Monster: He tries to extort and bully Michael for a gambling license. A nonchalant Michael bides his time and turns the tables with a cold frameup. It's worth pointing out that the Senator knows Michael is a powerful criminal but misevaluates him as harmless thinking that a political leader is out of his nefarious reach.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Based on real-life Nevada Senator Patrick McCarran, to the point where he was even named McGarry in an early script draft until Coppola decided it was too on the nose. Like Geary, McCarran was long rumored to have ties to the Las Vegas mob, and also called for harsh restrictions on immigration to the United States, invoked here by Geary's insults towards Michael's heritage. Today he's probably best-remembered for his role in the Red Scare of the early '50s, and because of the Las Vegas airport which bears his name.
  • No Party Given: Several passages in the script strongly imply he's a Democrat,note  but these aren't present in the movie.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Drops some savage anti-Italian slurs in conversation with Michael.
  • Sleazy Politician: Corrupt, in bed with the Mafia and cavorts with hookers. He's this trope to a T.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: His over-the-top defense of Italian-Americans at the Senate hearings.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: "I remember she was laughing."


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