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Moe Greene is a fictional character appearing in Mario Puzo's 1969 novel The Godfather and the first installment of the The Godfather trilogy of films, in which he was portrayed by actor Alex Rocco. Greene's character is heavily based on real-life gangster Bugsy Siegel.

Biography

The Godfather

In his younger days, Greene was one of the top killers in Murder, Inc. He is credited with helping turn Las Vegasmarker into a gambling and entertainment city, bringing the interests of the most powerful organized crime organizations in the world to the town. Among these was Don Vito Corleone, who bankrolled the creation of Greene's first hotel-casino. In return, Moe took the Don's son Fredo under his wing during the war between the Five Families in New Yorkmarker. Although Fredo was greatly influenced by the city and Greene, family heir Michael Corleone disapproved of the effect on his brother, whom Greene reportedly chastised and slapped around in public.

At a meeting with Greene, Michael expressed his disapproval and, perhaps partially motivated by Fredo's disgrace, made a stern offer to buy out Greene's entire interest in the casino as part of the Corleone's relocation to Nevadamarker. Offended, Greene angrily refused, claiming that the Corleones had neither the favor nor the muscle required to drive him out of the business. In the film, he belittles Michael's credentials as a mob boss, saying, "I made my bones when you were going out with cheerleaders!". In return, Michael has him murdered, although the method differs between the book and the film.

In the novel Greene is murdered by Michael Corleone's bodyguard and lieutenant Albert Neri not long after the meeting in Las Vegas. On the airplane ride home Michael asks Neri, "Did you make him good?" To this question Neri taps his head and responds, "I got Moe Greene mugged and numbered up here." Not long afterward Neri goes to Las Vegas as the family representative at the funeral of family friend Nino Valenti. During the course of that trip, Greene is assassinated.

In the film Michael lets the matter rest until the day of his nephew's baptism, when he has Greene killed as part of his sweeping revenge on enemies of the family. In one of the most famous scenes of the film, Greene is shot clean through the eye while getting a massage in one of his hotels. The method in which he is killed, where the victim is shot through the eye, came to be known as a "Moe Greene Special." In real life, Bugsy Siegel was shot twice in the head, however one bullet struck the bridge of the nose and passed behind his left eye, causing it to be blown from the socket. A widely-published photo of Siegel's body on a couch with the left eye missing and the second head wound unclear, led to the myth that he had been shot through that eye.

The Godfather: Part II

Greene's death returns to haunt Michael in The Godfather Part II, when rival Hyman Roth, formerly a partner of Greene's and a mentor to him, angrily cites his death to Michael as an example of Roth's willingness not to question or become involved with business-related killings, despite his friendship with the victim. Since Roth is in fact plotting an otherwise unprovoked attempt to eliminate Michael at the time, the scene might imply that revenge for Greene's death is what drives him to conspire against the Corleones. Roth is unsuccessful, however, and killed in the film's closing scenes.

References




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