One of the classic and most influential films of all time, The Godfather, will take you to the world of crime family business. This Crime Drama movie got so famous all around the world that it received an IMDB ranking of 9.2, and even now, the ranking has not yet dropped.
The Corleone family, whose main patriarch is Don Vito, one of the well-known dons in the country whom everyone in the crime world respects, has three sons one is Michael, the second is Fredo, and the third is Sonny. He also has a daughter named Connie.
The story of The Godfather will hover around these main characters while introducing you to the world of the Mafias, which is full of thrill and betrayal.
Since 1974, when The Godfather II was released, the debate over why Fredo betrayed Michael and what exactly he did do to Michael has heated up the internet.
So, here is a thorough analysis of all the fan’s theories to understand why and how Fredo betrayed Michael.
Understanding Fredo’s Character
In the film The Godfather, Fredo is introduced as Don Vito Corleone’s older son, who is younger than his other sibling, Sonny. Given that Fredo is one of the older sons, it was inevitable that he would succeed Sonny as the head of the crime family and succeed Don Vito as the next don.
But because of his tendency for womanizing, Fredo has never had a satisfactory relationship with his father. His father didn’t like him and didn’t want him to succeed him as the Corleone family patriarch.
Throughout The Godfather II, Fredo is shown as weaker than his other siblings, who always make dumb decisions, making him incompetent in handling the family business.
As a result, he never obtains the position he has always desired.
Understanding Michael’s Character
Michael is the youngest and favorite son of Don Vito. Michael, who is not at all interested in the family business, wants to lead a very normal life with his girlfriend, Kay. However, things do not go in the way he always desired.
Despite being Don Vito’s favorite son, even Michael’s father does not want him to succeed the Carleone family because he never wanted his son to become involved in politics and crime, and even Michael himself did not want to commit crimes.
Due to several assassination attempts on Don Vito, Michael commits to his father and gets involved in the family business. Sonny, the eldest son of Don Vito, who is also the underboss to his father, handles everything in place of his father; however, when he dies, Michael finds no option but to take his place.
Subsequently, after Don Vito’s death, Michael gets on to the position of Godfather, and Fredo becomes his underboss.
Why Did Fredo Betray Michael?
After Sonny’s death, Fredo, who had always desired the authority and control that his father possessed, became so fixated on obtaining the position of don that he would stop at nothing to succeed to the godfather’s throne because he had never wanted to serve under his younger brother.
So, in an effort to gain power, Fredo befriends Michael’s foes, who have the intention of killing Michael, but it is still unclear if Fredo has any idea about their killing intent.
Michael always treats Fredo well and always respects his position as an underboss to him because he has no idea what Fredo intends to do to him.
As shown in the movie, Fredo makes good connections with two of Michael’s enemies, Johnny Ola and Hyman Roth, and provides them with special information to destroy Michael totally.
However, what does Fredo actually do to betray Michael?
How Does Fredo Betray Michael?
There are many theories that explain what Fredo did to Michael to betray him; the first point to be considered was also shown in the movie that Fredo teams up with the biggest enemy of Michael, Hyman Roth, and his associate, Johnny Ola.
Hyman Roth has been the most important partner of the Corleone family business right from the start when Don Vito was the godfather. After Vito’s death, Roth becomes a partner of Michael in the business.
However, due to Hyman Roth’s personal grudges against Michael, including Roth’s best friend, Moe Green’s murder, Roth decides to avenge his death by killing Michael, and for that, he tricks naive Fredo into going against his brother Michael.
Hyman Roth’s Promise to Fredo:
Hyman Roth, who has been planning Michael’s assassination for so long, finds Fredo as a key to getting at Michael’s weak points. He does not find any other better option than persuade Fredo to team up with him and stand against Michael.
Dumb-witted Fredo accepts the luring promises that Hyman offers him in order to get away from Michael’s shadow and his presence as a Godfather of the Corleone family.
When Hyman Roth says to Fredo that their collaboration against Michael will be good for the family, here’s when Roth actually touches Fredo’s heart, succeeding in persuading Fredo against Michael.
Enemy’s move to assassinate Michael:
As a gangster and the godfather of the Corleone family, Michael lives in a house surrounded by tight security, and no one else except the people from his house can trick the security guard into helping assassins enter the house.
Fredo, the only enemy who lives with Michael, could make it possible to help assassins enter the house, and he may have done it in order to betray Michael.
Additionally, when assassins make their move to kill Michael, the Drapes of Michael and Kay’s room are opened, and Kay also suspects why the drapes were opened while they were about to sleep.
Because of the opened drapes, assassins got a clear view of Michael, making them easy to shoot him.
However, who did open the drapes of Michael’s room? Fans suspected that it could be Fredo, who lives in the same house as Michael and his wife.
Michael’s plan to kill Hyman Roth:
As Michael gets to know that his close ones, Fredo and Hyman Roth, with Johnny Ola, are betraying him, he gets furious. Angrily he makes an impromptu decision to kill Johnny Ola and Hyman Roth.
So, he succeeds in killing Johnny Ola but fails to kill Hyman Roth. Just before sending assassins to Hyman Roth’s patient room, Michael confronts Fredo about the betrayal, and the scared, naïve Fredo may have called Cuba Police to stop the assassin from killing Hyman Roth, ultimately spoiling Michael’s whole revenge plan.
As there are many other theories related to what exactly Fredo’s plan was against Michael, given his naïve behavior, Roth made an intelligent attempt to turn Fredo against Michael.
Whether Fredo ever intended to kill Michael or if he only desired to hold Michael’s position is still a matter of debate. As a result, Michael’s successful attempt to kill Fredo after learning of the betrayal has not been well received by the fans.