|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (September 2009)|
Don Fanucci is a fictional character appearing in the Mario Puzo novel The Godfather and the film The Godfather Part II, sequel to the film version of Puzo's novel. He is portrayed by Gastone Moschin.
In the original novel and Godfather Part II
Fanucci is a freelance Black Hand extortionist in New York City's Little Italy. Fanucci demands protection money from neighborhood businesses, but does not confine his demands to non-Italians, which is considered a sign of disrespect in the Mafia. Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) witnesses Fanucci threatening to disfigure a young girl when her father refuses to pay him, and almost intervenes but is stopped by his friend, Genco Abbandando, who tells him who Fanucci really is. Vito also loses his job when Fanucci demands that Genco's father provide employment for Fanucci's nephew, Sandiago.
Vito observes Fanucci and notices that, in spite of the terror he instills in others, he does not appear to have powerful backers. He also notices that Fanucci wanders the streets without obvious protection. In the novel, Vito witnesses an attack on Fanucci by two young muggers. Although Fanucci screams for help, nobody comes to his rescue and the attack ends only when the youths have robbed him, cut his throat, and run away. Vito knows from his own experiences that a real Don would probably be escorted by bodyguards, and that anybody who dared attack him would be dealt with severely and publicly. Vito begins to suspect that Fanucci's power comes from the threat of force rather than force itself.
One day, while Vito is driving a load of stolen merchandise, Fanucci jumps onto the moving vehicle. He explains that he has gotten word that Vito, Peter Clemenza (Bruno Kirby) and Sal Tessio (John Aprea) have participated in several robberies and are fencing the stolen goods. He demands $200 from the three men, but almost immediately states he will take slightly less if he is wrong on the amount. He also threatens to go to the police unless Vito gives him a cut of their profits.
Vito assures Fanucci that he will convince his friends to pay him. That night, Vito assures Clemenza and Tessio that he will "take care of" Fanucci. He meets with Fanucci, but offers only $100. Impressed with the young man's courage, Fanucci offers Vito work, and Vito promises to think about it.
After the meeting, Vito follows Fanucci through a street carnival and then, via the rooftops, to his apartment down the street. Letting himself in through a rooftop doorway, he descends to Fanucci's apartment and prepares to execute him. When Fanucci arrives, Vito shoots him dead, the sounds of gunfire masked by the carnival outside and by Vito using a rolled-up towel as a makeshift silencer. After the hit, Vito retrieves the money that Fanucci had taken earlier and then destroys the gun.
Because the hit was carried out on Vito's own initiative and because he was the only one of the three not cowed by Fanucci, Vito moves from being equal partners with Tessio and Clemenza to being their uncontested boss in the operation. Vito, with Clemenza and Tessio as his lieutenants, gradually takes over the neighborhood. Because he treats the residents with a great deal more respect than Fanucci had, he soon earns the neighborhood's loyalty. Since Fanucci was not well-liked by the police, his murder is not fully investigated and assumed to be an assassination by a rival. Owing to his clean record, Vito is never suspected, though the open secret that he is responsible for Fanucci's death increases his reputation for toughness when it is needed.
Unknown to Vito, his young son Sonny saw his father on the rooftop of Fanucci's apartment. However, this is not mentioned in the movie; it is mentioned in the book when Sonny is nearly caught by the police for armed robbery when he is 16. When Vito asks him why he stole, Sonny tells his father that he witnessed him disposing of the gun and fleeing the scene. It is this revelation that results in Sonny becoming a member of the Corleone crime family.