Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Andy Pettitte's Frankie Pentangeli moment

When I heard today about how Andy Pettitte indicated that he might have, um, misremembered what Roger Clemens said about HGH, my first thought was that it was something out of a movie. The Godfather, Part II, that is!

Specifically, I am referring to the infamous scene in which Frankie Pentangeli, who is set to testify as to what he knew about Michael Corleone's crimes, all of a sudden clams up. That's because Corleone has arranged for Frankie Five Fingers' brother to come in from Sicily. Seeing his brother keeps him from testifying -- he tells the Senate committee that he doesn't know anything:
The FBI guys promised me a deal. So I made up a lot of stuff about Michael Corleone. Because then, that's what they wanted. But it was all lies. Everything. They said Michael Corleone did this, Michael Corleone did that. So I said, "Yeah, sure."
The final script of the movie movie doesn't really explain why just seeing his brother would compel him not to testify, other than it being about Sicily and omerta, although Michael tells his wife Kay that "it was between those brothers." (An aside -- Pentangeli's character wasn't in the first movie, and he serves as a replacement for Clemenza after Richard Castellano, the actor who portrayed Clemenza in the movie, couldn't come to terms with Francis Ford Coppola on a new contract. While The Godfather, Part II is a great movie, I think Pentangeli's role would have been much more powerful if he were still Clemenza, like in the first film. But I digress.)

Anyhow, back to Andy Pettitte. According to his Congressional testimony, he told Laura Pettitte of what Clemens said back in the day about using HGH. However, as Ken Davidoff, now of the New York Post, reminds us:
The government’s best weapon to fight back would be to reveal that Pettitte acquired HGH from Brian McNamee, who will say he injected Clemens with illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and that Pettitte shared the details of the conversation with his wife, Laura. District Judge Reggie Walton has closed both doors, however, saying the McNamee connection would be “guilt by association” and the Laura Pettitte testimony “hearsay.”
Oh, great. Thanks, Andy, for potentially helping to set Roger Clemens free, by saying this today in court:
“As you sit here today, you believe in your heart and mind that you very well might have misunderstood Mr. Clemens in 1999 or 2000?” asked one of Clemens’s defense lawyers, Michael Attanasio. “Could have,” Pettitte said. “It’s 50-50 that you might have heard it, might have misunderstood it?” “That’s fair,” Pettitte replied.
The thing of it is, being so ambiguous, and unsure, will not change anybody's minds who thinks that Pettitte was a rat. It will not repair his friendship with The Rocket. But what it could do is give a jury reasonable doubt on finding Clemens guilty. Lovely. Thanks for nothing, Andy!

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Sully said...

I always interpreted the fact that Pentangelli changed his testimony to save his brother's life. He looked at his brother and then at Michael and understood.

Michael wouldn't think twice about killing his own brother in law or Tessio in Godfather 1. Why would he care about Pentangelli's brother. It was a "We can't get to you, but we've already got your brother who has NO CLUE his life is in danger."

So by letting Michael off the hook, he showed his loyalty to the Corleones but also kept his brother from being killed.

Lisa Swan said...

IIRC, the original Godfather II script had something about how Frankie's brother was raising his mistress' kids with him, with the implication being that they would get killed if Pentangeli ratted out Michael.

At any rate, I found his character really annoying. It would have been so much better if Clemenza had been in that part.

Sully said...

It would have been better had it been Clemenza. But I like Frankie

BklynSoxFan said...

It's a bit off the subject, but I remember reading that Richard Castellano got bounced from Godfather II because he wanted to write Clemenza's dialogue and Coppola wouldn't permit it.

And I agree with Sully that Michael would have killed Frankie's brother if he didn't clam up. BTW, isn't his nickname "Frankie Five Angels" and not "Frankie Five Fingers?"

Good analogy to Pettitte, Lisa.

Tanel Kagan said...

There are two possible interpretations to the way in which Pentangeli responds:-

1. The presence of his brother reinforces the idea of family. Frankie suddenly "remembers" his connection and considers that testifying would bring shame to the Pentangelis.
2. (More likely) It showed that his brother's life was in danger, since Corleone would inevitably kill the brother (and/or other family) if Frankie proceeded. This is reinforced by Hagen's speech hinting to Pentangeli that if he were to "voluntarily" take his own life, his family would nonetheless be looked after.

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