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Your father did business with Hyman Roth, he respected Hyman Roth... but he never trusted Hyman Roth!
~ Frank Pentageli

Francesco "Frank" Pentageli is a major antagonist in The Godfather Part II. He was an old friend and associate of Vito Corleone.

He was portrayed by the late Michael V. Gazzo.

Biography

Pentageli was born in Partinico, Sicily in 1900. He was the younger brother of Vincenzo Pentageli, a stoic Mafia traditionalist who refused to leave Partinico despite the opportunities for advancement available elsewhere. By contrast, Frank immigrated to the United States at a young age and became a close ally of the Corleone Family. Following the death of Peter Clemenza, Pentageli took his place as a caporegime of the Corleone Family, nicknamed "Frankie Five Angels". With Michael and Fredo Corleone based in Nevada, Pentageli ran the Corleone operations in New York, even moving into the old Corleone estate.

In 1958, Pentageli approached Michael at his son's confirmation to ask permission to eliminate the Rosato Brothers, a pair of small-time criminals who were interfering with his operations. Michael refused, not wanting to start a war while working on an extremely profitable deal with Hyman Roth, who supported the Rosatos. Pentangeli protested, and stormed out. However, that same evening, Michael was almost assassinated in his own home; soon after, Michael traveled to New York and arrived at the Old Corleone estate unannounced. Pentangeli insisted that he had nothing to do with the failed hit, and offered to help. Michael said that he believed Roth ordered his assassination, and told Pentangeli to settle his dispute with the Rosato Brothers to lull Roth into a false sense of security, in keeping with his father's most important lesson - "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Pentangeli reluctantly agreed to put aside his feud with the Rosato Brothers in the hopes of giving them the impression that Michael supported their claim.

Pentageli went to a meeting with the Rosato Brothers; however, the meeting was just a cover for an assassination attempt. Almost immediately after Pentangeli sat down, Tony Rosato slipped a garrote around his neck, sneering "Michael Corleone says hello!" Fortunately for Pentageli, his screams were loud enough to draw the attention of the police, and the resulting shootout disrupted any further attempts on the wounded mobster's life.

Falsely believing that Michael had betrayed him, Pentageli entered witness protection and supplied the Feds with all the information he could supply on the Corleone Crime Family, hoping that the evidence would be enough to indict Michael in front of a Senate Committee. Unknown to him, much of the hearing was being arranged through Roth's influence, with at least one leading senator being in Roth's pocket. Knowing that Pentangeli was the only witness who could conclusively prove the Family's involvement in organized crime, Michael considered having Pentageli killed, but the target was too heavily guarded for an assassination to even be attempted. So, he decided to persuade him instead: he had Vincenzo Pentangeli flown in from Sicily, where consigliere Tom Hagen brought him to the Senate hearings where Pentageli was due to testify - and made sure that Frank saw his brother among the audience. A glance from Vincenzo was enough to remind Frank of the obligations of omertà, and he recanted his testimony.

Following the trial, Hagen visited Pentageli to discuss his future and his family. Knowing that Pentageli was a student of history, Hagen discussed the Roman Empire - the basis for much of the modern Mafia's structure - drawing specific attention to what happened to failed conspirators against the Emperors: such plotters would be allowed to pass on their property and estates to their families, on the condition that the guilty men committed suicide. Pentangeli quietly remarked that it was common practice for the plotters to "have a little party", take a hot bath and open their veins, and their families would be taken care of as soon as death was confirmed. Hagen nodded, and left.

Sometime after Hagen's visit, the agents guarding Pentangeli happened to notice that he hadn't emerged from the bathroom and wasn't responding to calls for his attention. They broke down the door, and found that Pentangeli had taken Hagen's advice and slit his wrists in the bathtub. By the time the agents managed to get the door open, he was already dead.

Trivia

  • Richard S. Castellano was originally slated to reprise his role of Peter Clemenza for the second film. However, disagreements between Castellano and Paramount led to Clemenza being written out of the second film, and the character Pentageli was created to take his place.
  • In the first draft of the script, Michael said that Vincenzo's appearance at the hearing was meant as a threat to the lives of Frank's children, who lived with Vincenzo in Sicily.

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Vito Corleone | Philip Tattaglia | Emilio Barzini | Carmine Cuneo | Victor Stracci | Michael Corleone

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