Frank Pentangeli

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Frank Pentangeli
Frank Pentangeli
Michael V. Gazzo portraying Frank Pentangeli
First appearance The Godfather Part II
Last appearance The Family Corleone
Created by Mario Puzo
Portrayed by Michael V. Gazzo
Nickname(s) Frankie Five Angels
Aliases Francesco Pentangeli
(birth name)
Gender Male
Occupation Mobster
Title Street boss
Family Corleone (1934-1959)
Mariposa (1920s-1934)
Spouse(s) Unnamed wife
Children Two unnamed daughters

Frank "Frankie Five Angels" Pentangeli is a fictional character and a main antagonist from the film The Godfather Part II. In the film, he was portrayed by Michael V. Gazzo, who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance, which he lost to Robert De Niro, his co-star from the same film (as young Vito Corleone). He gets his nickname from his last name, which is Greco-Italian for five angels.

Character overview[edit]

Born as "Francesco Pentangeli" in Partinico, Sicily, Pentangeli has an older brother named Vincenzo who remains in the country. Frank is the caporegime in the Corleone family, running the family's operations in New York City while Michael (Al Pacino) and his brother and underboss, Fredo (John Cazale), are based in Nevada. He was a top soldier in the regime of Peter Clemenza (Richard S. Castellano), and took over the regime after Clemenza's death. He also moved into Vito's former estate in Long Beach, Long Island. His bodyguard is longtime soldier Willi Cicci.

In The Godfather, Part II, Frank Pentangeli is portrayed as a very old associate and family friend who has been with the family since the early days of the Corleone olive oil business. Pentangeli's character was conceived in The Godfather, Part II by Coppola and Puzo when actor Richard Castellano did not reprise his role as Clemenza in the sequel. The Pentangeli character took the part in the plot which was originally intended for Clemenza.

In the film[edit]

Near the beginning of the story, Pentangeli approaches Michael to ask for his help in eliminating the Rosato brothers, rivals in New York, who claimed to have been promised territories by Clemenza prior to his death. Michael refuses, however, and orders Pentangeli to do nothing, as he does not want a war to interfere with an upcoming deal with Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg), who supports the Rosatos. Pentangeli takes this as an insult and leaves in anger. Later that night, Michael narrowly escapes an assassination attempt at his home.

Michael concludes on his own that Roth was behind the assassination attempt. While on his way to Florida to seal the deal with Roth, he pays an unannounced visit to Pentangeli and asks him to help take his revenge. As part of his plan, Michael insists that Pentangeli capitulate to the Rosato brothers so that Roth will not suspect that Michael is on to him. Pentangeli, preferring open warfare against Roth and the Rosatos, is again very aggravated by Michael's demand that Pentangeli give in to them. However, he reluctantly obeys Michael's order.

Back in New York, Pentangeli arranges a meeting with the Rosato brothers. At the meeting, Tony Rosato (Danny Aiello) ambushes Pentangeli with a garotte, telling him, "Michael Corleone says hello." A policeman passes by and the attack degenerates into a shootout in the street. Pentangeli disappears and is believed to be dead.

Later, at a Senate hearing investigating organized crime and allegations of Michael's criminal activities, the survived Pentangeli is prepared to testify before the Senate, the committee intending to present Pentangeli as a surprise witness to provide the bases for perjury charges against Michael. Both Pentangeli and Cicci have been in the protective custody of the FBI since the apparent attempt upon his life. Believing that Michael ordered him murdered, Pentangeli provides a sworn statement to investigators that Michael is the head of the most powerful Mafia family in the nation, controls virtually all gambling activity in North America, and has ordered countless murders.

Most damningly, Pentangeli tells investigators that Michael personally killed Captain McCluskey (Sterling Hayden) and Virgil Sollozzo (Al Lettieri), and also began planning his mass slaughter of New York's other Mafia bosses as early as 1950. Cicci told all this to investigators, but because of "buffers" in the organization Cicci never received orders directly from Michael and therefore is unable to directly implicate Michael in criminal activity. Despite this, Pentangeli is prepared to testify before the Senate. And since he was a capo there is no insulation between Michael and himself. The Senate subcommittee and the FBI thus consider Pentangeli very credible, and are certain that he can corroborate Cicci's testimony and charge Michael with perjury.

While the Committee is in recess Michael and others look for a way to avoid the perjury charges. Meeting with Fredo at the Lake Tahoe estate Fredo informs Michael that the hearing was engineered by Roth as part of his plan to eliminate Michael from the scene; plus, the committee's lawyer is on Roth's payroll.

Michael knows that Pentangeli's protective custody is too secure to make an attempt on his life before he testifies. Instead, Michael flies Pentangeli's brother, Vincenzo, in from Sicily, and Vincenzo accompanies Michael to the hearing at which Frank is scheduled to testify. Vincenzo and Frank exchange a silent glance before the hearing. Understanding the threat to his family's honor in testifying to the authorities, Frank recants his earlier statements and now claims that the Corleone family is innocent of any wrongdoing, thus perjuring himself before the Senate committee and subjecting himself to over 400 years in federal prison. This testimony catches the Senators completely off-guard and effectively derails the government's case against Michael.

After the hearing, consigliere Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall) visits Frank in custody. Hagen tells Frank that he did the right thing by recanting. Tom tells a story implying that the correct thing to do now is for Frank to kill himself. Hagen tells Pentangeli if he accepts responsibility for turning on the Corleone family and kills himself Frank's family will always be taken care of. He thanks Hagen, returns to his room, and commits suicide by slitting his wrists while taking a bath.

The finished film leaves unclear exactly what about his brother's presence motivated Frank to change his story. The final film only states that Vincenzo is a powerful and ruthless Mafia chieftain in Sicily.[1]

An early draft of the film's script explains that Vincenzo, shocked that Frankie is about to break his blood oath and betray the Corleones to government authorities, attends the hearing to remind Frankie that he must not break the Mafia's code of silence, omertà. His brother's presence, as well as the stare they exchanged, serves as a threat that if Frankie follows through with his planned testimony, retribution will be taken against his children, who are living in Sicily under Vincenzo's guardianship.[2]


  1. ^ Puzo, Mario and Coppola, Francis Ford. (1973, September 24). THE GODFATHER Part Two, The Internet Movie Script Database
    "PENTANGELI: Did my brother go back?
    HAGEN: Yeah, but don't worry.
    PENTANGELI: He's ten times tougher than me, my brother. He's old-fashioned.
    HAGEN: Yeah. He wouldn't even go out to dinner. Just wanted to go home.
    PENTANGELI: That's my brother. Nothing could get him away from that two mule town. He coulda been big over here — he coulda had his own Family."
  2. ^ Puzo, Mario and Coppola, Francis Ford. (1973, September 24). THE GODFATHER Part Two, The Internet Movie Script Database
    "MICHAEL: He said his girlfriend made a spaghetti sauce once and it was so terrible he knew he could never marry her. He set her up in a house in Jersey. She had to be faithful and she had to have kids. And she did. Two, a boy and a girl. He had her checked out and watched so she couldn't cheat but the girl couldn't stand that kind of life. She begged him to let her go. He did. He gave her money and made her give up the kids. Then Frankie took them to Italy and had them brought up by his brother Vincenzo. Where he knew they'd be safe.
    (Kay begins to realize.)
    MICHAEL:: When he saw his brother in the hearing room, he knew what was at stake. (pause) I don't think Vincenzo would have done it. He loves the kids, too. Omertà, Kay. Honor, silence."