- "[Al Neri] understood he was being courted but understood more. That the Corleone Family approved that act of his which society had condemned and had punished him for. The Corleone Family valued him. Society did not. He understood that he would be happier in the world the Corleones created than in the world outside. And he understood that the Corleone Family was the more powerful, within its narrower limits."
- ―The Godfather (novel)
- "It was obvious that his respect for Michael was enormous... Albert Neri was his man to the death."
- ―The Godfather (novel)
Career with the NYPD
Al Neri began his career as a New York City policeman where he earned a reputation as a legitimately tough officer due to his fierce temper and quick reflexes. He frequently patrolled the streets with a large flashlight which he used to great effect, either cracking up the foreheads of Italian youths that ran with street gangs or shattering the windshields of diplomats who showed no regard for traffic laws. After his wife, Rita, left him because of her fear of his temper, Neri killed violent pimp Wax Baines who was in the process of slashing a little girl. Neri accomplished this by shattering Baines' skull with his flashlight; he was later convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
Tom Hagen and Peter Clemenza saw in Neri's record a parallel to Luca Brasi, Vito Corleone's previous enforcer, and arranged for his release before he served any prison time. Michael, appealing to Al's sense of loyalty and Sicilian roots, recruited him into Clemenza's regime. He "made his bones" soon afterward, and eventually became Michael's chief lieutenant and most loyal ally.
Career as a Corleone
- "I got Moe Greene mugged and numbered up here"
- ―Al Neri[src]
Neri killed Moe Greene on Michael's behalf a month after Michael's trip to Las Vegas. He did not reappear in New York until a month later as he had taken his vacation in the Caribbean. When Michael ordered the assassination of the heads of the Barzini and Tattaglia families, Al was responsible for the murder of Emilio Barzini, donning his old N.Y.P.D. uniform in order to delay Don Barzini's departure from the courthouse for an ambush on the courthouse steps as Barzini was leaving. Al killed Barzini's bodyguard and chauffeur, before hitting Barzini twice in the back, killing him.
The move to Nevada
When Michael and his family moved to Nevada, Al became head of security for all hotels controlled by the Corleones. By this time, Al was seen to be an unofficial second-in-command to Michael. He functioned as one of Michael's caporegimes alongside Rocco Lampone and Frank Pentangeli. He was responsible for a prostitute's murder that guaranteed the loyalty of Senator Pat Geary. He also forced Meyer Klingman, a rival hotel owner, into selling out to the Corleones. Al was personally responsible for carrying out the assassination of Michael's brother Fredo Corleone - a murder that was ordered by Michael because of Fredo's betrayal of him as well as the Corleone family.
Al remained loyal to Michael, and when Michael's mother died, he was seen at the funeral paying his respects.
In the 1960s, Al began to work closely with his nephew Thomas, who had also been accepted into the family business. The two of them were instrumental in the search for the turncoat Nick Geraci, and interrogated Nick's father Fausto for information. Fausto died from his wounds without revealing anything.
- "Look! I'd love to smack Joey Zasa and then whack the bag, Okay? But it's impossible. He's always mingling with people. In front of TV cameras, in his own neighborhood, it's impossible."
- ―Al Neri[src]
By 1979, the aging assassin was still working for the Corleones, his loyalty to Michael extending to the new Don, Michael's nephew Vincent, who he assisted in helping Michael escape a Commission meeting that was being attacked by Joey Zasa.
It was Al and Connie Corleone, who gave the go-ahead for Vincent's assasination of Joey Zasa shortly after, despite his protests that it would never work.
Al's talents were called upon one final time, when Vincent ordered him to kill Archbishop Gilday in revenge for the priest's intrigue against the family. He hid his gun beneath a box of chocolates as to get past Vatican Security, and shot the Archbishop as he ascended a spiral staircase, he then threw the Archbishop's lifeless body down the centre of the staircase.
It is unknown what happened to Neri after this hit, he presumably retired following Vincent's takeover as Don.
Personality and traits
Al Neri seems to have a sociopathic, or at least extremely detached personality; throughout the series he kills a large number of people, though of course under orders. This includes a prostitute whom he killed in a very bloody way. He is well trusted by the Corleones and eventually becomes the family's underboss; this is a testament to his strong loyalty. Whilst he was a police officer he was famed for his explosive temper, quick reflexes and brute physical strength which led to him taking the place of the assassinated Luca Brasi as head enforcer and first choice hitman for the family.
While he is paralleled to Luca Brasi, there are several differences between the two. Brasi was a powerful, individual man who was already into crime before meeting The Godfather. He was known for his savagery, strength, and implied "evil" in each of his actions. He was mostly viewed as a monstrous type of person, and while he worked loyally for the Corleones he often lived and moved by himself, only coming in to help Vito when he was asked for, or when he felt he needed to take initiative (such as when Vito got attacked).
Al is quite different from all this. While he does seem to have little problem hurting and killing others, as a police officer he seemed to be primarily doing this because of his belief in justice (he smashes windows of the cars of diplomats for not obeying the law; this is a rash action though clearly not motivated by any bloody desires). Neri was also brought into the family during a weak moment, when he was just arrested. He was happily married before his wife left him. He was never angry or rough to his wife at all, while Brasi killed his 'lover' shortly after she bore his child. It appears that the real reason Neri was chosen to be the replacement was because of his powerful physical abilities, his fierce loyalty, and knowledge of police procedure, and many old contacts in the Department.
Al Neri was described as watchful, taciturn, ruthless and unswerving in his loyalty to Michael. He was described as relating to Michael as one would an elder, though there was only an approximate five-year difference in age between them.
Al's full fledged membership in the Corleone family's organization is a testament to both his loyalty and the trust placed in him. He is an departure from the fundamental rule that prohibits former law enforcement members from being "made" members.
Murders committed by Al Neri
- Drug dealer and pimp Wax Baines, when he was still a New York Police Officer.
- In the novel, it is heavily implied that Neri shoots Moe Greene to death, however, according to the film, this would be physically impossible as Barzini and Greene were killed on the same day and Greene lived on the West Coast, while Barzini was killed in New York.
- Don Emilio Barzini.
- Barzini's unnamed bodyguard.
- Barzini's unnamed driver.
- Tattaglia's top button men.
- Fabrizio, killed with a car-bomb off screen.
- June Gardner with the intention of blackmailing Pat Geary.
- Fredo Corleone, for his betrayal of Michael.
- Sal Narducci's henchman, killed and buried in the desert outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.
- Fausto Geraci, Nick Geraci's father, in an attempt to find information about his son's where-abouts result in a heart attack.
- Archbishop Gilday.
In the video game
In the video game, Al is first encountered at the Corleone mall following Aldo Trapani's promotion to caporegime. He gives Trapani the hit on George Jovino and later gives subsequent hits from a park in Midtown.
Later, he appears in his police uniform to eliminate Barzini, but it is Aldo Trapani who deals the killer blow. He is only given a fleeting reference in the sequel and Dominic Corleone is responsible for killing Fredo.
Players (Favor 5: Infiltrate the Bank and Retrieve Don Corleone's Evidence):
Al Neri - Neri is still head of hotel security for the Corleones which is why he's asked you to meet him in the Corleone's swankiest of establishments. He's counting on you to help the Don out.
Behind the scenes
- In Dean Reisner's draft of The Godfather Part III, Neri got a call from his nephew, Tommy. Neri's sister had fallen ill and Neri went to see her along with Frankie Rizzi. Neri and Rizzi were then ambushed by a horde of Puerto Rican assassins. At first, Neri had the upper hand, killing a great fraction of the horde. Frankie, however, was shot in the arm while trying to reach his gun. While trying to protect Frankie, Neri gets shot in the back by two assassins. Neri starts coughing blood and tries to raise his gun for one last shot, but is mercilessly executed by an assassin.
- In the third draft of the screenplay, Neri secretely sides with Don Altobello and act as his mole within the Corleone family. When his treachery is discovered by the Corleones, he is killed and his body dumped in the hills of Sicily.
Notes and references
|Underboss of the Corleone crime family|
|1959- Unknown||Succeeded by:|