The Godfather: Part II question

In The Godfather: Part II, an assassination attempt is made on Michael, which he survives when his wife Kay notices the bedroom window drapes are inexplicably open. Who orchestrated the hit?

I was under the assumption Fredo left them open.
The thing that puzzles me is, when they look at the dead would be assassins, somebody says something like: “They’re from New York- I don’t recognize them”. Then how do you know they’re from New York???:confused:

Hyman Roth ( aka Meyer Lansky ), through his right-hand man Johnny Ola ( aka Vincent Alo ). When Michael learns from Fredo’s casual comment in the sex club that Fredo knew Johnny Ola before they were introduced earlier, he immediately realizes it was Fredo who set him up ( probably inadvertently ). Fredo claims that “he didn’t know it would be a hit” and talks about how Ola had approached him and had asked for information in order to get what he thought was a negotiating edge. No doubt at some point Ola tripped up Fredo and got a bead on where he would be staying, when, and perhaps a notion of the security and layout in order to plan a hit.

He did leave them open, but it was

[spoiler]Hyman Roth that ordered the hit. Fredo had been working with Johnny Ola and Roth in Miami.

I imagine they knew, based on how they were dressed or just general appearance, that the assassins were Italian.

The point there was to set up the question of whether it was Frank Pentangeli that ordered the hit. This is what Roth tells Michael when they meet in Miami.[/spoiler]

I know Fredo was involved involved in a deception of the family somehow but I didn’t assume it would involve killing Michael.

It was orchestrated by Hyman Roth through his henchman Johnny Ola. you might remember that it’s at the nightclub in cuba when Fredo lets it slip that he knew Johnny Ola previously that Michael puts it all together and bends over in pain realizing Fredo had betrayed him.

Fredo was upset after being passed over and basically being treated like an invalid his whole life. I doubt he would’ve been given a higher position by Roth or even control of the Corleone family, but it was better than his current gig.

Also, Fredo says he didn’t know that Roth would have Michael killed. Whether or not you believe him is up to you of course. I tend to think that Michael regrets ordering the hit on Fredo because he believes that Fredo, although misguided, was telling the truth.

Solluzzo (Abe Vigoda) was almsot like family-he was the guy who helped Michael kill the police captain and his friend. What turned him? He was chafing at Michael’s rule of the family (he was getting edged out by the other families)…and even complained to Michael (“you promised we could strt our own family”. Or was “Solly” a rat all along?

So if Hyman Roth ordered the hit what was the point of Michael giving Frank Pentangeli shit about it? I assume he lied to Roth to keep the Cuba deal intact, right?

Michael believes that Fredo didn’t know it was a hit (I think), but Fredo is stupid and reckless and will do the same again for the same reasons, which is why the hit waits until he is out on a lake and has said his prayers. Michael takes no chances, and that is his downfall.

Vigoda was Salvatore (Sal or Sally) Tessio.

But if he didn’t think it was going to be a hit, why would Fredo pull the curtains open? Why else would Johnny Ola want the curtains in Michael’s private bedroom open unless he had hitmen waiting for Michael to show up in a vulnerable spot?

I mean, even Fredo couldn’t be too stupid to figure that one out. Of course he knew.

Sal Tessio, not Solluzzo. It was a couple of years between when Michael shot the Police Capt and the old Don’s death, as indicated by grandpa being with a little boy in the garden when he died, that being Michael and Kay’s son. Sal saw that the war had devastated the family’s troops and did not see that they had recovered because he did not know about the secret capo regime that was built up under Al Neri, the new capo who was unknown to Tessio and Clemenza. The old Don felt that one of his subordinates would betray him (if not already), and thought it would be Tessio. But arranging a useless meeting after the Don died tipped them off to which one it was because while Brazzini was smart, he wasn’t smart enough to ask the non-traitor to set up the meeting when it never occurred to him that having the relationship to ask for the meeting through Tessio was a tip off.

Michael wasn’t sure it was Roth when he went to meet with Roth and then Pentangeli so he went to meet with them to gauge their reactions to what he had to say. I forget which order he saw them in, but Roth gives it away when he says that Pentangeli is “peanuts”. He is not peanuts, and his reaction is wrong when it seems that he doesn’t care. Even someone with low affect like Roth should express more anger that a hit was attempted at Michael’s home, which is never, ever done. Pentangeli doesn’t have any missed reaction, so to make sure, Michael asks him to do nothing, making him a stalking horse for the Rossoto brothers to make a hit. Remember Roth gave Micheal permission to make the hit on Pentangeli, but then uses his own guys without waiting. The Rossoto brothers would have had to get permission from Roth or someone else to hit Pentangeli, a made man and a capo. Michael’s almost fatal mistake was not confirming that Pentangeli was dead after using him to draw out Roth.

Fredo was pretty stupid and weak. Since a hit is never done around the wife and kids. Michael couldn’t take the chance that Fredo didn’t know and wasn’t trying to kill him.

Which leads us to the next most confusing aspect of GF2: why did the guy doing the hit on Pentangeli say, “Michael Corleone says hello,” or words to that effect?

I mean the hit man had every intention of killing Pentangeli and the only reason he didn’t follow through was because he was interrupted when someone (a cop wasn’t it?) came into the bar in mid-strangle.

AND we’re all agreed that Roth ordered the hit and not Michael so what’s up with the line?

[spoiler]The story goes that the actor playing the hit man -a young Danny Aiello no less- took it upon himself to improvise the line on the spot. Not knowing the full context of how the story unfolds, he figured “Michael Corleone says hello” was the sort of tough-guy line that the scene called for. Coppola agreed and left it in despite the fact it had to be baffling as hell for viewers seeing the film for the first time.

Those of us who have seen the movie hundreds of times simply disregard the line all together as well as the confusion that could very easily ensue.[/spoiler]

“Michael Corleone says hello” would be for the benefit of any bystanders as ordered by Roth so that people would blame Michael. That it was Pentangeli himself was all that much better for Roth. So when word gets out if the bartender or anyone else overhears it, it looks like Michael has ordered the hit. Thus Michael is in a war with the Pentangeli regime and not Roth.

The beauty of Roth as an enemy is that he is smarter and thus even more dangerous than Michael.

Exactly. Roth ordered the hit on Frank.

Then Pentangeli goes into FBI custody and turned on Michael.

This is why he was testifying at the Senate hearing, until his brother showed up and he suddenly forgot everything he told the investigators.

When Michael first meets with Fredo back in the US, after they’ve gotten out of Cuba, Michael probably thinks Fredo was just a gullible dope who made a huge mistake and regrets what he did. Michael is prepared to forgive and forget, because he can’t imagine that Fredo was smart enough or malicious enough to take part in a plot to kill Michael.


During their conversation, Fredo blows up and goes on his famous “I’m SMAAAART” rant. It becomes clear that Fredo is not a harmless schlemiel with no passions or ambitions of his own. Fredo isn’t very intelligent, but he DOES have a streak of deviousness and a bit of an ego. Up to now, Michael (like everyone else) has patronized Fredo. For the first time, Michael sees that Fredo resents, even hates Michael, and MIGHT indeed have wanted Michael dead.

THAT changes everything.

It is this reckless ambition that makes Michael feel that he has no choice but to protect the family from Fredo. Godfather III is usually reviled, but Talia Shire does a wonderful job of “poor drowning Fredo” pretending she believes the cover and going along with it, but convenying to the audience that she knows and to Michael that she will not make a similar screw up.