|First appearance||The Godfather|
|Last appearance||The Godfather's Revenge|
|Created by||Mario Puzo|
Albert "Al" Neri is a fictional character appearing in Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather and the three films based on it. In all three motion pictures, he is portrayed by actor Richard Bright. He functions as the personal bodyguard of and chief assassin for Michael Corleone.
In the novel
In the novel The Godfather, Neri begins his career as a New York City patrolman, where he earns a reputation for a fierce temper, quick reflexes, and tremendous physical strength. He frequently patrols with a large flashlight, which he uses to great effect, either cracking the foreheads of Italian youths who run with gangs or shattering the windshields of diplomats who disregard traffic or parking laws. After his wife leaves him in fear of his temper, he kills a drug dealer and pimp by fatally cracking his skull with the flashlight, and is convicted of manslaughter.
Tom Hagen and Peter Clemenza see him as a potential replacement for Luca Brasi, Vito Corleone's feared enforcer, and arrange his release from prison. Normally, policemen are barred from becoming made men, but they were impressed enough to recommend that Michael intercede. Michael, appealing to Neri's sense of loyalty and Sicilian-American roots, recruits him into Clemenza's regime. Clemenza is initially impressed by the ferocity that Neri displayed in their first meeting. Neri later "made his bones" and became Michael's chief lieutenant by personally murdering Moe Greene and Emilio Barzini on Michael's behalf. Neri carries out the latter murder while disguised in his old police uniform. After Salvatore Tessio is executed for betraying Michael, Neri is promoted to caporegime of Tessio's former crew, and plays a key role in the bloodbath that reestablishes the Corleones as the most powerful family in the nation. When Michael and his family move to Nevada, Neri becomes head of security for all hotels controlled by the Corleones.
In the film series
In the film version of The Godfather, Neri's story prior to becoming a made man is not mentioned. He does not say a word in the first film and following Michael's return from exile in Sicily, Neri becomes his bodyguard, accompanying him everywhere. In the famous "baptism sequence," Neri (disguised in his old police officer's uniform) guns down Barzini and his bodyguards on the steps of a courthouse, much as he does in the novel. However, the murder of Greene, which occurs simultaneously, is handled by another, anonymous gunman.
In The Godfather Part II, Neri is seen to be Michael's unofficial second-in-command in his operations in Nevada, and is one of Michael's capos along with Rocco Lampone and Frank Pentangeli. In a deleted scene, Neri is shown "convincing" Meyer Klingman, a hotel owner, that he must give up (or that he has already given up) his interest in the hotel in favor of the Corleone Family. When Klingman protests, Neri slaps him in the face and pursues him through the casino's showroom, while casino security guards (now under Corleone control as well) do nothing. Neri is identified as a capo on an organization chart of the Corleone family created for the government. Neri also carries out the murder of Michael's brother Fredo, under Michael's orders. While out fishing together on Lake Tahoe, Neri shoots Fredo in the back of the head.
By the time of The Godfather Part III, with Michael's decision to "go legitimate" by selling off his casino interests and handing over control of his rackets to former subordinate Joey Zasa, Neri continues to serve as his bodyguard. He is the only holdover from Michael's criminal operations who is still close to Michael. When Zasa betrays Michael and attempts to have him murdered at a meeting of the Commission in Atlantic City, it is Neri who saves Michael from an assault that kills all the other bosses still in attendance, and later helps Michael's nephew, Vincent Mancini, to plan Zasa's murder. When Michael retires and transfers control of the family to Vincent, Neri is the second to pledge his loyalty, after Calò, the former bodyguard of Don Tommasino. In the closing scenes of the film, Vincent calls upon Neri's skills one last time, sending him to infiltrate Vatican City, where he guns down the corrupt Archbishop Gilday and tosses his body down a spiral staircase.
In other media
In Mark Winegardner's novel The Godfather's Revenge, Neri and his nephew take part in an attempt to obtain information from Nick Geraci's father. He is seriously wounded in the final shootout at the end of the novel.