Friday, October 13, 2006

Dapper Don Instigated Bloody Mob War

Friends of ours: John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Gambino Crime Family, Colombo Crime Family, Carmine "The Snake" Persico, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, Alphonse "Allie Boy" Persico, Vic Orena, John "Junior" Gotti, William "Wild Bill" Cutolo

The late Gambino boss John Gotti instigated the bloody civil war within the Colombo crime family in a diabolical scheme to consolidate his power on the Mafia Commission, a turncoat witness testified yesterday. Gotti falsely branded jailed Colombo boss Carmine (The Snake) Persico "a rat" in an attempt to get him replaced by another Colombo gangster who was close to Gotti, according to former Gambino capo Michael (Mikey Scars) DiLeonardo.

DiLeonardo, testifying at the racketeering trial of Persico's son and acting boss Alphonse (Allie Boy) Persico, surprised Brooklyn Federal Judge Sterling Johnson when he matter-of-factly said that Gotti was behind the conflict that left a dozen gangsters dead and an innocent bystander slain outside a Brooklyn bagel shop in the early 1990s.

"John Sr. instigated it?" the judge asked the witness.

"Oh, yeah," DiLeonardo replied.

DiLeonardo explained Gotti's strategy this way: "John was close to Vic Orena and figured if he could get him in, and Allie out, he [Gotti] would have a majority vote on The Commission," DiLeonardo said. "He [Gotti] owned Vic Orena."

During the war, DiLeonardo said he accompanied John A. [Junior] Gotti to Rockaway Beach for secret late-night meetings with members of the Orena faction to try to iron out a settlement.

DiLeonardo said he thought that it was wrong that the Dapper Don had slurred the elder Persico's name. "Allie found out about it and wasn't happy," he recalled. "I told him it wasn't right and I set out to try and make things right."

Alphonse Persico is charged with ordering the 1999 murder of Colombo underboss - and Orena loyalist - William (Wild Bill) Cutolo.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jack Nicholson Researches for Role in The Departed

The Departed topped the box office nationwide Sunday, starring Jack Nicholson as a cocaine-snorting, hard-drinking, womanizing Mafia boss. He had to do a lot of research for the role. He had no idea what it's like to be a Mafia boss.<br><br>

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Departed Gets it Right

Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" is set in Boston among the Irish mob and Irish cops, a story of betrayal and lies by a director who has made his life's work the study of the consequence of sinMartin Scorses's The Departed

"I didn't want to be a product of my environment," says Boston mob boss Frank Costello, played by Jack Nicholson, in a raspy voice over a black screen at the outset. "I want my environment to be a product of me."

Naturally, it begins with an altar boy sipping a soda in a store, with Nicholson in shadow, muscling a terrified shopkeeper. The shopkeeper hands over some cash in the shakedown, and Nicholson then begins flirting with the teenage, female cashier. The boy silently takes all this in, the threats, the cashier's receptive smile, and there is a glint in the boy's eye. He's charmed by such leverage. He's an intelligent boy drawn to the possibilities of power. And so he becomes the servant.

There is no one who does sin better than Scorsese.

"The Departed" is a story of the mob infiltrating the police, and the police infiltrating the mob, and others leveraging the feds in scheme after scheme. They rat each other out, and the consequences fall upon them, inevitably, like snow on a graveyard in December.

With all the intrigue, it could easily have been set in Chicago, and should have been, although we don't seem to do that kind of movie here. Here, we have history enough for Scorsese to make a trilogy on the Outfit and local law enforcement.

We've had hit men cops and jewel thief cops who've been portrayed as heroes until their arrests; and honest police officers stuck for their entire careers hauling drunks out of wagons, others sentenced to 25 years in blue without ever making sergeant. It is a circumstance that can only happen in a highly political town, a town where everything is traded, a bartertown like Chicago, like Boston.

Another element missing were the politicians. The Outfit has owned several freight trains of politicians in Chicago, including mayors. And in Boston, there's Democratic political boss William Bulger and his brother, James "Whitey" Bulger, the hit man charged with 19 murders, and who also corrupted an FBI agent. There weren't any politicians in this one. Maybe next time.

I saw the film on Friday morning. Though I've written about the Chicago Outfit and it's penetration of local law enforcement in the case of former chief of detectives William Hanhardt, I'm no movie critic. But I did go to film school at Columbia College and ran the projector for free screenings for a month or so, watching post-war Italian films involving sad dogs and sad clowns during lunch. So why can't I rate this one?

I happily give "The Departed" four broken knuckles, or four bullets, or four lead pipes, or four broken thumbs, if you will.

Not for the violence (it's supposedly terrible to celebrate violence, but it makes for great cinema when done right), but for the acting of Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin.

And a special bonus for the scene in which DiCaprio's character asks the alluring female police psychiatrist if she has any cats.

"You don't have any cats?"

"No," she says.

"I like that," he says.

I'm not going to spoil what happens next. You'll have to trust me. You might believe what happens immediately after the cat scene, but you won't believe the rest.

So see it soon, before other people you know see it themselves and invariably spoil it for you, the way some idiots spoiled "The Usual Suspects" (directed by Bryan Singer) a few years ago.

People who saw "The Usual Suspects" before you did just couldn't keep their mouths shut about it, could they? They pretended they didn't want to say anything, but they couldn't resist the temptation of dropping some stray detail, which zinged back through your memory as you sat in the theater, moments before you learned the identity of Keyser Soze.

Don't let anyone do that to you this time. See the movie. And except for the cats and the altar boy, I'm not going to spoil or divulge anything from "The Departed," except for this one little thing.

A woman behind me at the movie started talking, alone, to herself during the ending. As I turned, she was rattling her popcorn bag, her fingers glistening like washed baby carrots.

She kept saying "Come on!" and "Gosh!" and "Oh!" and I kind of lost my temper, just a bit, and politely told her to shut her mouth or I'd pull a Jack Nicholson on her.

"Wow!" she said.

"Madam, will you please be quiet! Please!" I hissed.

"Oh all right," she said, mumbling something under her breath, before the final scene, which I won't tell you about. You've got to see it for yourself.

Thanks to John Kass

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Organized Crime to Help Terrorists? Fughgeddaboudit!!

FBI officials in Washington have said that they worry terrorists will ally with organized crime in America to plot terrorist attacks. That's insane. Not even the janitors union struck the World Trade Center when John Gotti protected New York.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

"JP" Helps the Syndicate

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Albert "The Blast" Gallo, Genovese Crime Family, Colombo Crime Family, Crazy Joe Gallo, Larry Gallo, Vincent "Chin" Gigante, Frank "Punchy" Illiano

On your "Gambino Crime Family" profile chart you list Albert "Kid Blast" Gallo as a Friend of Ours. He's actually a made member of the Genovese Family. He started with the Colombos in the crew run by his brothers--Crazy Joey and Larry Gallo. He went through the Gallo-Profaci War with them. He was supposedly a favorite of Vincent "Chin" Gigante until The Chin died this past December.

Then Albert "Al the Blast" Gallo Jr. (his full name and I don't think he uses the "Kid Blast" nickname anymore) switched allegiance to the Genovese Family in the mid-1970s after Larry died of cancer and Joey was hit in 1972 at Umberto's Clam House in Little Italy. Nearly the whole crew switched to the Genoveses.

Former Gallo crew member Frank "Punchy" Illiano is now a capo in the Genovese Family and Al Gallo is a made guy in his crew (or it could be the other way around, Gallo's the capo and Illiano's the top member of his crew--reports are conflicting on exactly who the capo of the crew is).

Thanks to "JP" who emailed this information to me.

Will The Departed Lead to an Arrest by the Police?

Friends of ours: James "Whitey" Bulger

The Tulsa Police hopes a piece of Hollywood will finally end a murder case that began 25 years ago.

The movie, "The Departed" opened Friday in theatres and stars Jack Nicholson playing an Irish Mafia boss in Boston. That character is based on real life Irish mobster, Whitey Bulger.

Bulger has been on the run since 1995 when corrupt FBI agents warned him he was about to be indicted. Tulsa Police want him in connection with the mob murder of Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler in May of 1981.

They hope this movie will lead someone to turn Bulger in. Tulsa Police Sgt. Mike Huff: "We would love to see him captured. It'd be wonderful to finally put this thing to an end. I have never seen a case that has drug on this long. It changed a lot of people's lives." Bulger has a $1-million price tag on his head and is on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted fugitive list.

Police say he was spotted in Oklahoma as recently as three years ago, at the Luvs in Henryetta.

Scorses is the New Boss with The Departed

Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" is an instant gangster classic, a gritty, intense and electrifying work from a master who knows this turf better than any director who ever lived. The moment it was over, I wanted to see it again.
The DeParted
In Jack Nicholson's opening monologue as longtime crime boss Frank Costello, he spews a nasty racial slur as casually as you'd say "hello." You're not going to like this man. He doesn't want you to like him. Even before he emerges from the shadows of the narrative and reveals his hardened face, Nicholson is serving notice that he's going to keep the familiar tricks -- the lovable bad boy grins and the arched eyebrows -- in the drawer in favor of serving up an authentic, searing performance. It's some of the best work he's ever done -- and it's one of a half-dozen nomination-worthy performances in the best movie so far this year.

With "The Departed," Martin Scorsese returns to the gutter-level gangster genre he practically re-invented with "Mean Streets" (1973) and then perfected with "Goodfellas" (1990) -- but this time, his camera is prowling the streets and alleys and abandoned buildings and taverns of Boston, and most of the criminals and the police are Irish to the core. We actually spend more time with the cops than the crooks -- not that you can always tell one from the other, even with a scorecard.

"The Departed" is based on the Hong Kong classic "Infernal Affairs" (2002), but there are major revisions in the story and a shift in focus on some of the characters, most notably Nicholson's mob boss, a rather minor force in the original who becomes the central figure in the epic American version.

Nicholson's Frank Costello is a 70-year-old career criminal who rules his turf with all the subtlety of a lion in the wild. With his unkempt hair flying every which way and his mad eyes darting about, Costello grabs what he wants with both hands and stomps his enemies with bloody glee. Whether he's singing an Irish tune with an exaggerated, self-mocking accent, harassing a pedophile priest in a restaurant, sitting in an opera box with two dates whose combined ages don't match his, or meeting with an informant in a porn theater, Costello is the dominating force in the room, lapping up every moment while there's still time.

When Frank asks one tavern patron about his mother's health, the man says, "She's on her way out."

"We all are," says Frank, as he begins to make his exit. "Act accordingly."

It's a giant and sometimes funny performance, but Nicholson isn't clowning around or vying for our affections a la his villainous work in "Batman" or "The Witches of Eastwick." He's a man and he's a monster, albeit a very entertaining one.

Scorsese has cinematically adopted Leonardo DiCaprio, who follows his fine work in "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator" with the best performance of his career as Billy Costigan, a smart hothead who tries to escape his criminal family ties by joining the Massachusetts State Police Department's Special Investigations Unit, which is obsessed with bringing down Costello and his crew. Matt Damon plays Colin Sullivan, an equally promising recruit who fast-tracks his way through the department -- but even as Sullivan gets assigned to the elite unit tracking Costello, he's working his second cell phone every step of the way, letting the mobster know exactly where the investigation stands. Sullivan isn't a good cop gone crooked --he's a plant who was handpicked as a teenager by Costello to join the force as the ultimate mole. This guy is an informant a dozen years in the making.

In the meantime, Costigan washes out of the force, gets convicted of a crime, does some jail time and winds up hanging around with his idiot drug dealer of a cousin -- but that's all by design as well. Only two men on the force -- a Notre Dame-loving captain (Martin Sheen) and his foul-mouthed second-in-command (Mark Wahlberg) -- know that Costigan in fact has never left the force and has been tabbed to infiltrate Costello's crew.

Never have cell phones played such an integral part in a crime thriller, with Costigan and Sullivan text-messaging and calling their respective bosses with key bits of information, even as both units try to flush out the rat in their midst. (There is a moment late in the film when they have their own cell phone "meeting," and nothing is said, and yet everything is said. The tension is almost unbearable.) But when you spend a year pretending to be a gangster, or for that matter a hard-charging cop, how much of it begins to rub off? Damon and DiCaprio are so skilled at portraying moral ambiguity, and Scorsese is so adept at keeping these stories racing along until their inevitable collision, that there were times when it was difficult to remember who was the good guy and who was the real crook. It's a house of mirrors, but one never feels manipulated.

Complicating matters is Vera Farmiga's Madolyn, a psychiatrist who seems like she needs her own time with a therapist. She's dating Sullivan (whom she believes to be a good cop) and counseling Costigan, to whom she is also attracted. Each man feels as if he's closest to being himself when he's talking to Madolyn, but neither is telling her the truth. Everybody in "The Departed" is a professional liar, with the possible exception of Sheen's Captain Queenan and Alec Baldwin's Captain Ellerby, a hilariously intense veteran whose gut bulges against his sweat-stained dress shirt as he rails about his hatred for Costello.

Scorsese is an original artist, but "The Departed" contains all sorts of touches and echoes of other films, from "True Romance" to "The Third Man." A number of signature Scorsese moves come into play as well, from the sublime use of 1970s rock-soundtrack staples such as "Gimme Shelter" and "Comfortably Numb" to the pervasive Roman Catholic imagery in scene after scene, to the shocking jolts of violence that somehow feel more real than the gunplay and bloodshed in just about any other gangster movie.

"The Departed" is about men who live in a world of casual violence, whose workdays routinely include battering skulls or attending funerals. It is funny, shocking and brutal, and it's filled with brilliant performances, with some of our best actors sinking their teeth into a great screenplay from William Monahan. Scorsese reinforces his reputation as one of the greatest living directors. He may get his sixth Oscar nomination and he might even win, but does it matter? Along with "Goodfellas," this is one of the best gangster movies in film history, whether or not there's ever a gold trophy attached to it.

Thanks to Richard Roeper

Scorsese's World

Director Martin Scorsese practically invented the gutter-level gangster film:

Not so much a gangster movie as a perceptive, sympathetic, finally tragic story about how it is to grow up in a gangster environment. Johnny Boy is played by Robert De Niro and it's a marvelous performance, filled with urgency and restless desperation. (R, 1974) **** Roger Ebert

A masterful examination of guilt, greed and violence in the American Mafia, "Goodfellas" tells the real-life story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a mobster who lusted after the recognition and status he could find as a professional criminal, but who was never really top material. (R, 1990) **** Ebert

David Ayer to Direct a "Mafia Cop"

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family
Friends of mine: Louis Eppolito, Stephen Caracappa

David Ayer ("Harsh Times") has signed on to rewrite and direct "Mafia Cop" for Mandalay and Universal Pictures reports the trades.

The true-life story centers on highly decorated police officers Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa who participated in eight murders (three mafia-sponsored), two attempted murders, one murder conspiracy, money laundering, obstruction of justice and drug distribution from 1986 to 1990.

Eppolito and Caracappa were arrested in 2005 after retiring from police work. Eppolito's father was a member of Gotham's Gambino crime family and before his arrest, Eppolito tried his hand in acting in such films as "GoodFellas," "Bullets Over Broadway" and "Predator 2".

Ayer also wrote "Training Day" and the "Wild Bunch" remake "Cartel" which he is attached to direct. Dan Gordon penned the first draft of the 'Cop' screenplay.

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