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In The Godfather I, Carlo is seen as an abuser of his wife Connie, and my general feeling (and maybe yours too) is that he's somewhat of an outsider who wants desperately to get involved in the Corleone "family business".

At the end of The Godfather II, we see that Sonny is the one who introduces Carlo to Connie when he brings Carlo to his parents house for his father's birthday party.

For Sonny to have brought Carlo to his parents house for such an occasion, I would think that Sonny trusts Carlo implicitly. You don't just bring a stranger to your father's birthday party, especially when you're in organized crime. Yet there is never, in either movie that I recall, any mention of what Carlo does or how Sonny knows him. In fact, their relationship is extremely poor in The Godfather I.

Does anyone know how Sonny knows Carlo, and what led to their deteriorated relationship?

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From what I remember from the Novel, Carlo is in some kind of trouble with the police when he comes across Sonny, who uses his connections to give him some kind of sanctuary, and eventually absolution. It's quite ambiguous what Carlo has done...

At this point there are no hostilities towards him, so no reason not to invite him to a party: he's not a Cop, he's come to them for help... The Casa Nostra appropriate social meetings in order to conduct business without suspicion, that's their basic MO with this type of thing, so it's not just a party for Carlo, it's an introduction.

Vito immediately takes a disliking to him, but not enough to do anything drastic; he just suspects he's not what he seems. Sicilian tradition however, of which Vito is Orthodox, forbids the interference of a father in a relationship bonded and destined for marriage.

It's not neccesarily explored in the film, but Carlo is secretly only married to Connie to gain entry to the Corleone family; and, further to this, uses his position of patriarchy over Connie as leverage against the Corleones.

He subtly blackmails them throughout that if he doesn't get his way, he will exert violence against Connie; this is why Sonny, and everyone else, comes to loathe him.

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"He subtly blackmails them throughout that if he doesn't get his way, he will exert violence against Connie" - I didn't really get this out of the movie. I thought Sonny hates him for beating his sister as part of simply being a bad husband. But the answer makes sense, I might just not have understood the movie sufficiently in this regard. – Napoleon Wilson Jun 18 '14 at 10:42
Its only implied in the movie, the Novel makes it a lot clearer, and also makes a point of saying Vito doesn't trust him: one of Vito's greatest strengths lies in his good judge of character, which Michael tries to reproduce. Vito even selects Michael over Fredo (his older brother), because he anticipates Fredo's character. In the novel, when Carlo shows up to the party (and thus into the family), Vito says something to Tom about not letting him know too much, not trusting him. His judgment is supernaturally infallible...that's why he's the Godfather. – John Smith Optional Jun 18 '14 at 10:59

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