Don Fanucci

Don Fanucci
Massimo Fanucci
Information
Gender Male
Occupation gangster

Massimo Fanucci is a fictional character appearing in the Mario Puzo novel The Godfather and the film The Godfather Part II, sequel to the film based on the novel of the same name. He is portrayed by Gastone Moschin.

In the novel

In the novel, Fanucci is a freelance Black Hand extortionist in New York City's Little Italy. Fanucci demands "protection" money from neighborhood businesses, and 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 threaten 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. He also loses his own job when Fanucci demands that Genco's father provide employment for Fanucci's nephew, Sandiago.

Vito becomes increasingly aware of Fanucci in the time that follows and notices that in spite of the terror he instills on others he does not appear to have powerful backers or any evident connections to powerful mobs other than by rumor. Fanucci wanders the streets without obvious protection. In the novel (filmed as a scene for the movie but deleted from the theatrical cut and available on the DVD sets) Vito witnesses an attack on Fanucci by two young muggers; though Fanucci screams for help nobody comes to his rescue and the attack ends only when the youths have robbed him, cut his throat (not enough to do serious injury), and run away. Vito knows from his own experiences that a real mafia don would probably be escorted by bodyguards, and if for some reason he did not anybody who dared attack him would be dealt with severely, quickly, and probably publicly as soon as the Don was free, yet in the days that follow there is no indication that Fanucci killed or otherwise took revenge on the two thieves. Vito begins to suspect that Fanucci's reign of terror in Little Italy is based as much on Fanucci's nerve, choosing weak victims (such as the young girl and the scared store owner) and rumor as much, if not more, than it is upon actual personal strength or Mafia connections.

One day while Vito is out driving a load of stolen merchandise, Fanucci accosts him by jumping onto the moving vehicle. Fanucci explains that he'd gotten word, correctly, that Vito, Peter Clemenza and Sal Tessio had participated in several robberies and fencing the stolen goods including a shipment of dresses. He claims that the trio has treated him "shabbily" by not allowing him to "wet my beak," (i.e. to let him take a cut of their profits) or shown respect and courtesy by sending some of the stolen dresses as a gift for Fanucci's daughters. Fanucci demands a payment of $600 from the three men, an amount based on his estimate of their proceeds from the stolen merchandise, but almost immediately states he will take slightly less if he is wrong on the amount ("but not much less" he says emphatically). He also threatens to go to the police unless Vito gives him a cut of their profits.

Realizing that if Fanucci really is a mafia chief he would neither threaten or use police intervention, and combined with his observations on Fanucci and the man's , Vito sees a chance to take the Don's place. First he assures him that he will convince his friends to pay him. In meeting with Tessio and Clemenza later, Vito is surprised that his two partners are both terrified of Fanucci and want to pay him and give Vito their third of the demanded tribute. Vito takes the money but when he meets with Fanucci he offers only a fraction of the amount demanded: $100 of the $600 Fanucci had expected. Fanucci is less insulted or outraged than he is impressed with the young man's courage and offers him work, while Vito interprets his ability to low-ball Fanucci as a sign of the latter's weakness, thus confirming his suspicion of Fanucci's vulnerability.

After the meeting, Vito stalks 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, Corleone shoots him once in the chest and two times in the face, 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 in the day and then destroys the gun, breaking it up and dropping the pieces down several of the apartment building's vent pipes that lead to garbage chutes.

Because the hit was taken by Vito's own initiative and because he was the only one of the three now cowed by Fanucci Vito moves from being equal partners with Tessio and Clemenza to being their uncontested boss in the operation. Gradually Vito, with Clemenza and Tessio as his respected lieutenants, take over the neighborhood. Because he treats the residents with a great deal more respect than Fanucci had, showing generosity especially to the weak with his money and his influence, he soon earns the neighborhood's respect and loyalty. Since Fanucci was not very well liked by the police, his murder is not fully investigated and assumed to be an assassination by a jealous rival. Due to his clean record, Vito is never suspected, though the open secret that he is responsible for Fanucci's death increases Vito's reputation for toughness when it is needed even before, at Vito's orders, Tessio and Clemenza begin assembling a gang of "tough guys" to do assist in any work that requires violence or intimidation.

Unbeknownst 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 asked by Vito why he stole, the boy brings up witnessing his father disposing of the gun and fleeing the scene. It is this revelation that results in Sonny becoming a member of the Corleone crime family.


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