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 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

Born as Francesco Pentangeli in Partinico, Sicily, Pentangeli has an older brother named Vincenzo who remains in the country. Frank is a caporegime in the Corleone family, running the family's operations in New York City while Michael (Al Pacino), his brother and underboss, Fredo (John Cazale), and the other two capos, Rocco Lampone (Tom Rosqui) and Al Neri (Richard Bright), 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

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. After visiting Florida to seal the deal with Roth, Michael pays an unannounced visit to Pentangeli in Long Island and asks him to help take his revenge. As part of his plan, he 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.

Following Michael's orders, Pentangeli arranges a meeting with the Rosato brothers. Arriving at the meeting place, Pentangeli leaves his bodyguard outside and enters the bar alone. Once inside, Tony Rosato (Danny Aiello) ambushes Pentangeli with a garotte, telling him, "Michael Corleone says hello." A policeman, curious that the bar is occupied during the daytime, steps inside 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, Michael learns that the committee intends to call Pentangeli as a surprise witness to contradict Michael's adamant denial that he is a crime boss. 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 has also disclosed this to the FBI. However, he is unable to directly implicate Michael in any criminal activities; due to "buffers" in the Corleone organization he never received orders directly from Michael. In contrast, since Pentangeli 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. That glance is enough to remind Pentangeli that he will disgrace the family's honor by testifying to the authorities. He recants his earlier statements, saying he "told the FBI guys what they wanted to hear," and now claims that the Corleone family is innocent of any wrongdoing, thus perjuring himself before the Senate committee. 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 and Pentangeli talk nostalgically about the good old days when the Corleone Family, as Pentangeli says, "was like the Roman Empire." Hagen tells a story about what would happen to traitors during those Roman days, implying that the correct thing for Pentangeli to do now is 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, just as the families of confessed traitors in the Roman days who killed themselves were allowed to keep all of their possessions. He thanks Hagen, returns to his assigned quarters, and despite the presence in the other room of his federal guards, 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."
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