The Godfather: Tom Hagen Could Not Be a "Made Member"?

In the movie, Tom Hagen is portrayed as the family lawyer, sort of a business advisor. He never got to be the “consigliore”, and surely could never aspire to be head of the family.
From the book, this was implicit-there is a passage where Don Vito consoles his (adopted son), by saying “a lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than 100 men with guns”.
Why was this? Tom was adopted at an early age-he spoke italian, and knew all about Omerta-why couldn’t he have passed for a geniune Corleone? Or would the other “families” not trust the Corleones-if run by a non-italian?
In any case, Tom seems to have been a dutiful son-he follows orders and doesn’t complain (unlike the stupid and treacherous Fredo).Later, Michael treats him like sh*t-shuts him out of meetings, insults him, and challenges his loyalty to the family.
Tom should have whacked Michael and taken over!:cool:

It doesn’t matter. He wasn’t Italian.

He may have been their family, but he wasn’t their blood.

Yep, that’s exactly what it was.

Tom Hagen was both consigliere in Godfather I and II as well as acting Don after the assassination attempt on Michael. He rose to the number two slot in the family and probably could have gone higher if all the real Corleone’s had been whacked.

As for Michael treating him like shit, he treated everyone like shit after he ascended to Don. It was to show that he wasn’t the innocent he was at the beginning of the movie.

As others have said, it was purely a question of ethnicity. The book made it clear that the other families already ridiculed the Corleones to a certain degree for having Tom in as prominent a position as they did.

They would only have accepted a real Sicilian…like, say, James Caan.

In the novel Vito’s son-in-law, Carlo, also can’t be a made member because he’s Milanese (at least ancestrally). I’m not sure if the exclusion was because he was northern Italian or just because he was Italian and it’s a Sicilian’s only club- anybody know the answer to this one? (I don’t know if they go by the island Sicily or the archaic Kingdom of the Two Sicilys, which was defunct as a political entity decades before Vito Corleone would have been born). , but either way it’s completely a bloodline issue. Either way, it’s one reason that Carlo came to despise the Corleones so much.

Henry Hill, the real life gangster portrayed by Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, was half-Sicilian but still couldn’t be a made-man because of his Irish father. His boss Jimmy Burke (aka Jimmy Conway as played by Robert Deniro in the movie) was half-Irish and half your-guess-is-good-as-mine and thus was also right out even though he did everything for the mob a made-man can do, but because he didn’t get the Mafia tenure he wasn’t on the in-crowd. (Being a made-man means, among other things, you can’t be hit even if you’re a Joe Pesci style loose cannon without the express go ahead and blessing of your boss.)

Think of it as pure racism.

You cannot be a made man unless you are Italian. Better even, Sicilian. No matter how hard you try or what your roll in the family becomes, you are always an outsider.

It should be noted not all Sicilian gangsters- not even all who have killed for their Family- are ‘made men’ either. It is a privilege, not a birthright, and must be earned by service to the family.

Not even Al Capone could be a made guy – Italian, but not Sicilian.

It didn’t matter. He controlled the local Don, and the Chicago Mafia was (and, I suppose, still us) but a branch of the Chicago Outfit.

Not that it matters because Tom was made consigliere, but it was made clear in the book that he was never officially adopted by the Corleones.

Or Marlon Brando or Abe Vigoda.

Lol and bravo. I was just a kid when I first saw The Godfather, and that casting choice even bugged me then. Almost as much as the punch that never connected.

They considered going with Laurence Olivier as Vito, and Rod Steiger lobbied hard and heavy for the role of Michael. Lots of odd coulda-beens with that movie.

My understanding was that Tom also lacked a little bit of Sicilian flair for war. There was also mention that he was a good consigliore but not a great one, especially not a “war-time consigliore” and it was assumed he failed at that because of his lack of Sicilian blood.

As far as Michael shutting him out, I thought that was a mutual choice between him and the Don. They were intentionally putting stress on all three (Clemenza, Tessio and Tom) to see who would betray them. Because Tom was almost family, he could be the most dangerous to Michael, so it was important to push him a little and see where his loyalties really did lie. He proved himself to be true to the family and later on, he was given respect from Michael.

I always got that Tom regarded Vito as a father much more than Vito regarded Tom as a son. I think Vito saw him more as a “Cousin Oliver” who more than earned his keep with the family and he was completely trusted and the Don was more than glad to have around because of his intelligence and loyalty. Also Tom made every effort a blonde blue eyed German-Irish waif could make to blend- in the movie it’s Tessio who recognizes the vest/fish and says “It’s an old Sicilian message” (in the movie it’s Tessio), and in the book it says that he spoke Sicilian better than any of the Don’s sons and of course he married a Sicilian girl (from Sicily IIRC).

However, I got that Vito did distinguish- and not too secretly or too delicately- between Tom and his sons. Not to say he didn’t love him and didn’t trust him completely, but he was not exactly family- more like a beloved in-law. (Of course the Don wasn’t the most sentimental man on Earth; in the book when Connie confides in him that Carlo [who he can’t stand] is beating her he essentially laughs it off and tells her it’s her problem and “I told you he’s a loser, but you’re his wife now so deal with it”, which is what sends her to Sonny.)

I think Michael, who would have been a little boy when Sonny brought Tom home, regards him as a brother, certainly more than he does Fredo. Not sure where Sonny stands, but then he’s kind of a Henry VIII “the best place to be is where he’s not” character in that he loves and hates so passionately he’s always cocked and loaded with anybody.

Any other takes on the Tom-Vito relationship?

He may not have been good at war but it wasn’t for lack of cold bloodedness. While it’s a mystery exactly what happened with the prostitute the best evidence always seemed to me that Tom gave the order (what are the chances that the senator just happens to wind up in bed with a dead whore in a Corleone run brothel?), and he’s the one who without emotion lets Tessio know the bells have rung and who later tells Pentangeli/Clemenza (God how much greater the movie would have been if Castellano hadn’t been so impossible- Gazzo was great, but the continuity) to cut his wrists even though he’s known and genuinely revered them both for many years. You never see him after the Fredo hit but you know he’s completely cool with it even though Fredo’s like a brother to him as well.

I don’t think it’s that so much as that figures he doesn’t have the right to stop a man, even if the man is Carlo, from disciplining his wife, even if the woman is his daughter.

I think of all of them, Sonny is closest to Tom and Tom is closest to Sonny. In the book, when the Don is shot, the first thing Sonny tries to do is get hold of Tom. He fails, because Tom has been kidnapped, but that’s still his first instinct. There’s a line in the book, just after Hagan’s been released.

There’s this, from the book:

As far as Tom being cut-throad, don’t forget he was the man behind the horse’s head.

Michael treating Tom badly isn’t an indication of Tom not being family; it is an indication that Tom was family. Throughout the films, Mike slowly turns away from his family as he becomes the head of it. He shuts Tom out, he makes a wido of his sister, he cuts the mother of his child out of his life, and he eventually kills his own brother. He betrayed the one thing that was most important to his father.

I think you messed up this sentence. Anyway, I’m confused.

I did. In the book, TOM is the person who recognizes it as an old Sicilian message; in the movie that’s changed to Tessio.

Note: while Vigoda is ancestrally a Russian Jew, you must admit he looked right as a Sicilian mob boss- not quite Castellano or Pacino perhaps, but Sicily is famous for its ethnic blend (Italian, Greek, Moorish, other)- you wouldn’t think “liar” if he said his parents were born in Castrofilippo, while you probably would if James Caan walked in. I think Brando is a French name, but with the make-up he was perfect; you could easily imagine him sitting in a barbershop in Palermo complaining about the weather.