I just don’t get it. What is it about Fredo Corleone that invites such universal scorn? Have you ever heard anyone anywhere stick up for this guy? I once heard him referred to during a conversation between seminarians as a weak bastard. I mean, a little perspective here. Let’s take a closer look at his family.
Father & Mother–He’s the middle son of a homicidal crime boss. What kind of a father was Vito Corleone? His pseudo guinea charm is exposed in the scene in II when he brings home a pear. His wife, Carmella [real stand-up chick this one], acts as though they have just won the Lotto. This suggests there were earlier beatings when the original Ms See No Evil showed something less than enthusiasm to earlier Vito ‘generosities,’ i.e. bread or Sodium bicarbonate. The next time you watch that scene, watch Carmella closely and tell me if she doesn’t resemble the adults in the Billy Mumy Twilight Zone episode. Trips to the zoo with this guy probably ended with Fredo being held up to the Gorilla cage and told not to show any fear when they approached, Clemenza chuckling in the background.
Older Brother–How bad a bad-ass was this disturbed sociopath? Professional assassins, having already shot Santino 173 times and with numerous potential assailant/witnesses approaching [not from the “the Jersey Turnpike”] in more than one vehicle, felt it necessary to stop, methodically walk up to the sieve-like figure lying on the floor and emptied out the remaining ammunition in their NRA rifles [aka machine guns]. Mind you, these were the type of people who would later develop signature assassination procedures, widely hailed for their efficiency [double-tap] and copied throughout their industry. ‘Santino, watch your brother,’ probably initiated more than a few Fredo nightmares.
Younger Brother–Had older brother killed. Planned it for months. Watched. Most popular Corleone son.
So the next time you hear some bourgeois pansy rip Fredo, in the words of his Dad’s advice to Johnny Fontane, ‘you can act like a man’ and do the right thing. Stick up [pun intended] for the only normal Corleone you’ve ever been exposed to.