One of the many things that makes The Godfather Part 2 such an incredible movie is the performances of the supporting characters. G.D Spradlin’s portrayal of Senator Pat Geary is an excellent example of this.
Geary is something of a stereotypical politician: outwardly charismatic but shamelessly corrupt and arrogant when dealing behind the scenes. Spradlin captures this perfectly with his blunt hostility and open racism towards Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone, who is visibly annoyed by Geary but maintains his cool.
Geary is arrogant and used to getting his own way, openly insulting Michael while simultaneously demanding a bribe. It may have worked on others but this tactic backfires horrendously on the Senator.
The lengths and ferocity of the Corleone’s powers of manipulation are fully on display here. When Geary wakes with a dead prostitute beside him we briefly see Al Neri appear in a doorway, wiping his hands with a towel. We are never told directly that he killed the young woman but the suggestion is plain to see.
The way Tom Hagan shakes his head at Neri also suggests Geary could have been in trouble if he had been non-compliant.
But “fortunately” for Geary the Corleone’s run the place so they could swoop in and protect him in his time of need. Conveniently, he is suddenly and deeply indebted to Michael Corleone.
The play is as genius as it is ruthless. Instead of killing Geary himself they turned him from an adversary into a subservient puppet, later speaking in defence of the Corleone’s at the Senate hearing.
Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.