Albert "Al" Neri
(1916-1990) is a fictional character appearing in Mario Puzo's novel The
Godfather and the three films based on it. He is portrayed by actor Richard
Bright. He functions as the personal bodyguard, caporegime and chief
assassin to Michael Corleone. He is completely devoid of fear and totally
loyal to Michael and the Corleone family.
In the novel "The Godfather," Neri began his career as a New York City
policeman where he earned a reputation as a legitimately tough officer
thanks to his fiece temper and quick reflexes. He frequently patrolled with
a large flashlight which he used to great effect, either cracking 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 left him in fear of his temper, he killed a drug dealer and pimp by
shattering his skull with the flashlight and was convicted of manslaughter.
Tom Hagen and Pete Clemenza saw in his record a parallel to Luca Brasi, Vito
Corleone's previous enforcer, and arranged for his release from prison.
Michael, appealing to Neri's sense of loyalty and Sicilian roots, recruited
him into Clemenza's regime where he "made his bones" and became Michael's
When Michael ordered the assassination of the heads of the five New York
Families, at the end of The Godfather Part I, Neri was responsible for the
murder of Emilio Barzini, donning his old police uniform in order to arrange
an ambush on the courthouse steps as Barzini was leaving. When Michael and
his family moved to Nevada, Neri became head of security for all hotels
controlled by the Corleones.
In The Godfather Part II, Neri is certainly seen to be an unofficial second-in-command
to Michael. He functions as one of Michael's caporegimes after the betrayal
of Sal Tessio, the death of Clemenza and the suicide of Frank Pentangeli. He
is responsible for a prostitute's murder that guarantees the loyalty of
Senator Pat Geary. Neri was also personally responsible for the
assassination of Michael's brother Fredo Corleone, under Michael's orders
for Fredo's previous betrayal.
This is demonstrated further in The Godfather's Revenge. He also takes part
in an attempt to kidnap Nick Geraci's father (which fails). He is also
seriously wounded in the final shootout at the end of the novel.
By the time of The Godfather Part III, the aging assassin was still working
for the Corleones, his loyalty to Michael extending to the new Don,
Michael's nephew Vincent. His talents were called upon once again at the
conclusion of the film when Vincent ordered him to kill Archbishop Gilday in
revenge for the priest's intrigue against the family.