Storytellers: Salvatore Giuliano, The Lost Corleone
Salvatore Giuliano, a.k.a., “The Gentleman Bandit,” was a Sicilian peasant who rose up to become one of the key members of the Sicilian Independence Movement. He was also predominantly known as a Robin Hood-esque figure who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. Due to his handsome looks and charisma as well as enviable survivalist skills, Giuliano quickly rose to infamy after he was forced to kill a Sicilian carabiniere due to circumstances beyond his control. He took refuge in the mountains overlooking his village and quickly assembled a fellow gang of bandits. Soon, he was framed by the government for many acts of random violence and there was a hefty price upon his head, but Giuliano had the support of the people and also some key members of the Mafia.
That last little detail is vital to where Mario Puzo’s book, The Sicilian (which is still considered the literary successor to The Godfather), comes into play and weaves some of the actual historical happenings into the novel. As part of Michael Corleone’s conditions for coming back to America after his four-year exile in Italy, Corleone was directed to safely squire Giuliano along for the ride. The only problem, of course, is that Giuliano was then betrayed by his own right-hand man and childhood best friend, Gaspare Pisciotta, who was promised immunity by the government in exchange for killing Giuliano. Of course, the immunity never happened, and Pisciotta was eventually served some highy poisonous tea while serving hard time in prison. This second untimely end was presumed to be revenge from one of Giuliano’s men under the Gentleman Bandit’s own everlasting coda: “So die all who betray Giuliano.”
Historically, this is also where Giuliano’s story is presumed to have ended, which is also the point at which an existing film adaptation to The Sicilian leaves off as well; unfortunately, that adaptation completely leaves out the bookending appearances of Michael Corleone for copyright reasons. In addition, an Italian-language documentary details Giuliano’s legend through life and inevitable death, but it’s all too nicely tied up with the assumption that Giuliano met his end at the hand of the law.
However, conspiracy theories abound concerning Giuliano’s death. He’s sort of like the Sicilian Elvis only not so musical and not all fat and bloated. In an attempt to put these rumors to rest, the official grave of Giuliano was exhumed in 2010 for DNA testing. Much to Sicily’s surprise, the testing wasn’t even necessary in the first place because the local coroner confirmed that the skeleton in the grave was far too short to be Salvatore Giuliano. In other words, 60 years of Sicilian history may need to be rewritten.
So let’s play along and assume that Giuliano indeed made it out alive, faked his own death, and shipped over to the United States and hope that, somehow, Hollywood shall one day choose to fictionalize this account. Perhaps he could have functioned as a wingman of sorts for Michael Corleone in his efforts to woo back Kay Adams; certainly, Giuliano wouldn’t have stolen Kay away for himself, since his own pregnant fiancée preceded him to America. Another thing, Giuliano would’ve been significantly indebted to Don Vito Corleone and may have joined the family ranks as a Caporegime (possibly even with the ability to whip up spaghetti sauce that would’ve rivaled that of Peter Clemenza). Maybe he could have even jazzed up The Godfather III somewhat so that you people could collectively stop bitching so much about it. Whatever the case, Giuliano would’ve made an interesting addition to the Corleone family.
Casting this alternate and extended take on Giuliano’s life would obviously be quite difficult at this point in time for the simple fact of having to cast a young, Godfather-era Michael Corleone when Al Pacino is obviously far too old to reprise the role. Actually and at this point, I’m content to live with the conspiracy theories and tell Hollywood to leave this newfound aspect of the story alone. Hell, they’d probably cast some damn guidos in this movie and ruin the story completely. Long live Giuliano!
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.
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