Genco is only referred to in GF-1 although in cut scenes he is visited by the family while he is dying. I can understand why this was cut -- there would be later scenes in a hospital with Michael and those scenes are central to the movie. But I believe Sonny mentions that Genco was consigliere when he berates Tom.

It is in GF-2 that we see this same Genco (although that might not be clear) excitedly want to introduce Vito to his girlfriend but then slink out when Fanucci holds a knife to her throat, even though Vito seems to signal that he will help Genco fight (indeed kill probably in that situation) Fanucci but Genco is plainly afraid.

So does it make sense that Vito would make such a cowardly person (there is no other way to describe him) consigliere and he apparently, despite his show of cowardice so many years before, is a very effective war-time consigliere which Sonny feels Tom is not? I don't recall if in the book the theatre scene is present and if it is present, whether an explanation of how Genco became consigliere despite this is provided.

1 Answer 1


You must recall that the historical events in The Godfather 2 are an expansion of very brief details provided in the original novel.

There is no great backstory to the relationship between Genco and Vito provided other than Genco was Vito best friend.

Even the theatre scene is made up of whole cloth and does not exist in the original novel. It's purpose is expository to tell us, the audience, who Fanucci is and why everyone is afraid of him.

Fanucci's introduction in the novel reflects a somewhat different attitude in Genco to the movie...

In the neighborhood lived a man called Fanucci. He was a heavy-set, fierce-looking Italian who wore expensive light-colored suits and a cream-colored fedora. This man was reputed to be of the “Black Hand,” an offshoot of the Mafia which extorted money from families and storekeepers by threat of physical violence. However, since most of the inhabitants of the neighborhood were violent themselves, Fanucci’s threats of bodily harm were effective only with elderly couples without male children to defend them. Some of the storekeepers paid him trifling sums as a matter of convenience. However, Fanucci was also a scavenger on fellow criminals, people who illegally sold Italian lottery or ran gambling games in their homes. The Abbandando grocery gave him a small tribute, this despite the protests of young Genco, who told his father he would settle the Fanucci hash. His father forbade him. Vito Corleone observed all this without feeling in any way involved.

The Godfather - Mario Puzo

Additionally, the events in *The Godfather itself take place many years after the Fanucci incident. Plenty of time for the young Genco to mature into the wartime consiglieri referred to.

  • You know what would be interesting? A novelization of GF-1 and GF-2. I think that would be a heck of a book, an improvement on the original in that it would lack the whole irrelevant doctor story, etc. It is clear from the excerpt that the book's Genco would not have slunk out but probably have killed Fanucci, changing history except maybe Fanucci would have not dared try to extort Genco's girlfriend's father.
    – releseabe
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 11:09
  • But anyway, the book does not provide an answer. Genco's cowardice actually occurred not long before Vito began his ascent and it is hard to believe Vito would have not at least been concerned about being involved with him in a criminal enterprise.
    – releseabe
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 11:13
  • 1
    As I said, Genco's cowardice is a movie invention to increase the apparent threat posed by Fanucci...it does not accurately reflect his actual personality.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 11:15
  • The question is about the movie. In GF-2 he acted like a coward but in GF-1, he is revered as a war-time consigliere. I assert this is inconsistent. And it would have been so easy to have had someone other then Genco be consigliere unless of course FFC wanted to show us that one could be a coward and yet also be an effective strategist. It's a longshot, but someday I may run into FFC and if I have 5 minutes, this will be one question I ask. I will also ask some stuff about Fredo.
    – releseabe
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 11:21
  • 1
    I asked if it made sense. How many questions here do not involve some measure of opinion? Asking if some behavior of a character makes sense given the facts that we know -- if the answer always is, We don't know, some people act irrationally, etc. really limits the sort of questions that can be asked.
    – releseabe
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 11:55

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