The Chicago Syndicate: Movies
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Frank Vincent's A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man

A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man.

These days, it’s harder than ever to know how to act like a real man. We’re not talking about the touchy-feely, ultra-sensitive, emotion-sharing, not-afraid-to-cry version of manhood that Oprah and Dr. Phil have been spouting for years. We’re talking about the though, smart, confident, charming, classy, all-around good fella that upholds the true ideal of what is known as “a man’s man.”

Now, renowned actor and true-life man’s man Frank Vincent, famed for his unforgettable tough-guy roles in such classic films as Raging Bull, Goodfellas and HBO’s The Sopranos, is going to show how any man can be all that he can be in love, work, play, and life. Everything you need to know is covered here, including, getting the best women by being the best man, dressing like a champ and taking on the world, winning big money and big respect in Las Vegas, selecting, smoking, and savoring a great cigar, and much more.

If you want to learn how to be a man’s man, you gotta learn from a man’s man. And with the great Frank Vincent vouching for you, you’ll be on your way to getting everything you ever wanted outta life.

A Guy's Guide to Being a Man's Man.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Cuban Mafia Movie, The Corporation, to Involve @LeoDiCaprio and Benicio Del Toro

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Paramount Pictures have acquired the production rights for "The Corporation," a film in which Benicio Del Toro will play a Cuban mafia kingpin, Rock Moon Production, the multimedia firm that sold the rights, announced on Wednesday.

The Appian Way production company, owned by DiCaprio, and Paramount Pictures bought the rights to produce the film based on the same-named book by author T.J. English.

Crafting the screenplay will be handled by David Matthews, who has written scripts for well-known HBO series such as "Vinyl" and "Boardwalk Empire."

A bidding war broke out last week among big Hollywood studios and production companies to obtain the rights to English's book, which tells an "epic story" of the Cuban-American underworld.

Del Toro will take on the role of Jose Miguel Battle Sr., the head of the Cuban-American mafia in a film that aims to be a "Cuban version" of "The Godfather" and "American Gangster," according to a statement on the matter.

English is the author of bestsellers such as "Havana Nocturne" and "Born to Kill," and he has been a co-screenwriter for the popular television series "NYPD Blue."

Rock Moon director Tony Gonzalez said that he could not think of a better studio than Paramount to produce the film, given that it is the studio that produced "The Godfather."

Monday, December 14, 2015

Star Wars Fans: History of the Force: New York Times Headlines From Far, Far Away

Star Wars Fans: History of the Force: New York Times Headlines From Far, Far Away.

This special collection takes you on a journey from the release of the first “Star Wars” movie in 1977 to the saga’s newest installment, “Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” set to be released later this year. Completely personalize it with a name on the cover and a choice of three different colors options.

The phenomenally successful series has captured the imaginations of sci-fi buffs for generations, and this keepsake book chronicles the public and critical reception of the film and its historical and cultural impact.

This comprehensive book includes New York Times article about the “Star Wars” films and their legacy, from reviews, news articles, graphics, photos and behind-the-scenes exclusives to profiles of director George Lucas and key actors. There are more than 25 color pages.

An epic gift for the diehard Star Wars enthusiast, the hardcover book is bound in a stately leatherette binding that is personalized with the recipient’s name. On the slate gray cover, you get to choose from three foil stamp colors and edition names.

- Green & Gold is the Light Edition
- Black & Red is the Dark Edition
- Slate Gray & Silver is the Master Edition

The contents are the same for each edition and each one has a companion “Star Wars” wallet -- Stormtroopers, "Star Wars" logo or Hans Solo and Chewbecca. Each wallet is made of DuPont™ Tyvek®, a plastic micro fiber that is tear resistant and water resistant. Super strong and compact, the wallets expand to hold everything you need.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Blues Brothers Original Movie Poster - 1980 #OnaMissionFromGod

Blues Brothers Original Movie Poster - 1980.

The Blues Brothers" is a 1980 comedy movie based on the Blues Brothers characters that John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd played on Saturday Night Live." This is a fully original 1980 one-sheet poster that features a fantastic image of Belushi and Aykroyd as the title characters. This 27" x 41" poster is in excellent condition. A great piece of movie memorabilia.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Godfather Original Movie Poster With Linen Back - 1972 - Only One Available!

The Godfather Original Movie Poster With Linen Back - 1972.

All serious movie fans search to find this classic popular poster. The Godfather" is often considered one of the greatest movies of all time and certainly the most influential gangster movie. It starred Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as the leaders of a New York crime family. The movie also featured stars like James Caan, Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton. It was a huge success at the box offices as it is still ranked among the Top 25 highest-grossing films in America. The movie was also critically acclaimed. The Godfather" won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. In 1990, the movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress.

This is an authentic, original poster not a reprint or a reproduction. It was distributed by the studio when the film was released and was intended for theatrical display. This is a fully original 1972 one-sheet poster that features the original movie logo. This poster is in excellent condition and it has been professionally linen backed to 30" x 44" in order to preserve the condition. A great piece of movie memorabilia. Only one available. Ships rolled. Comes with a certificate of authenticity from Brigandi Coins & Collectibles of New York, a leader in collectibles since 1959.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The Manchurian Candidate Original Movie Poster, Linen Backed, - 1962

The Manchurian Candidate Original Movie Poster, Linen Backed - 1962.

Vintage movie posters were normally printed in very limited quantities, often making them hard to find. The posters were not meant to be saved. After their initial use to promote the movie, they were supposed to be returned to the studio or destroyed. Almost all old posters before the mid-1980s were issued folded from the back to minimize fold lines. Folds are not considered defects. Accompanied with a certificate of authenticity from Brigandi Coin & Collectibles of New York City, a leader in collectibles since 1959.

Monday, December 07, 2015

The Untouchables in Blu-Ray

They don't make movies like The Untouchables, any more. Brian De Palma's gripping tale of a Chicago police team trying to take on Al Capone is one of the best crime movies ever made. With stellar writing, superb directing, and an all-star cast, The Untouchables feels both modern and timeless.

Kevin Costner stars as Elliott Ness, a Treasury Department agent tasked with cutting down on alcohol bootlegging (this was during Prohibition, mind you). And Robert De Niro is Al Capone, the man behind the illegal alcohol trade, as well as many other things besides. Ness tries and fails to rally local law enforcement to his cause. It's only when he teams with veteran cop Malone (Sean Connery, in an Oscar-winning role) and forms a small squad of his own, dubbed "the Untouchables" because they are the only people in the city who cannot be bribed by the mob.

The Untouchables is fantastic on many different levels. It all starts with the script, written by famous playwright David Mamet. Mamet is known for his fast-paced, overlapping dialogue and his sharp, memorable lines. Here he eases up on the rat-a-tat rhythm of the dialogue, instead allowing each character to showcase a set of very memorable lines.

Brian De Palma adds another level. De Palma's career jumps from confident and assured (Sisters, Carrie, Mission: Impossible) to downright embarrassing (Snake Eyes, Mission To Mars), but here he knocks the ball right out of the park. He lets the material speak for itself, and then adds a cinematic touch to make the whole piece move. And, of course, he's responsible for the famous Battleship Potemkin homage during the climax that still provides edge of your seat tension to this day.

The cast bring it all to life. Kevin Costner is eager and sincere in this role, playing Ness with his heart on his sleeve. It's a reminder of how good of an actor he used to be. Sean Connery is an incredible presence, world-weary but not without hope. It's one of his most nuanced and brilliant performances. Andy Garcia and Patricia Clarkson are memorable, but don't get enough screen time to really show how talented they are. And then, of course, there's De Niro, playing Capone to the hilt, making himself felt throughout, even when he's not on the screen.

And the final piece of the puzzle is the haunting score by Ennio Morriconne. Morricone, most famous for penning the scores for A Fistful Of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, is one of the world's most versatile composers and provides a tense, lingering soundtrack that perfectly complements the image on the screen.

The Blu-ray Disc:

The Image: Paramount Pictures presents The Untouchables in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 in an AVC/MPEG-4 encoded 1080p transfer. I was quite literally shocked to see how good this movie looked in high definition. The film came out in 1988, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if someone told me it had come out in 2007. The colors are rich, bright, and solid. Shadow delineation is excellent. Detail level is off the charts. This is not only the best The Untouchables has ever looked, but it also better-looking than a good majority of HD discs of movies from any time period. The image quality alone demands that this Blu-ray be purchased and enjoyed over and over.

The Audio: Nothing's perfect, and in the case of The Untouchables, it's the Dolby Digital-EX 5.1 and DTS 6.1 mixes. Morricone's score sounds great in the high end, but the bass is lacking. Gunshots are often muted and lacking power, and for a surround mix, there's not much directionality. This is the one aspect of the disc that could use a serious overhaul.

The Supplements: Paramount has ported over all of the special features found on the latest special edition DVD. All but the theatrical trailer are in high definition.

The Script, The Cast: Brian De Palma discusses the origin of the film, mentioning that he took the job to get in good with a studio so he could finance his preferred projects. There was a lot of talk of moving away from the television series and making the movie its own beast. There are also some vintage interviews with the cast.

Production Stories: A look at the film's sets, vehicles, costumes, and designs.

Reinventing The Genre: A discussion of how Brian De Palma's cinematic techniques shaped the film.

The Classic: A wrap-up look at the post-production process and release. Morriconne's score, the film's release, success, and legacy are all highlighted here.

The Men: A short vintage featurette.

Theatrical Trailer: In HD, but not very good-looking.

The Conclusion: The Untouchables is an undeniable classic, and this Blu-ray disc does it justice with reference picture. The sound and extras aren't as good, but still far from bad. This is a must-see movie on a must-own disc. Highly Recommended.

Thanks to Daniel Hirshleifer

Monday, November 09, 2015

Loving Husband, Devoted Father, Ruthless Killer #TheIceMan

Based on a true story, Director Ariel Vromen's (Danika) critically-acclaimed, true-life thriller The Iceman, comes on Blu-ray & DVD from Millennium Entertainment.

The chilling story of Richard Kuklinski, a devoted husband and father who in reality was a ruthless killer-for-hire, THE ICEMAN stars Academy Award® nominee Michael Shannon (Best Supporting Actor, Revolutionary Road, 2008), also Man of Steel, TV's "Boardwalk Empire"), two-time Academy Award nominee Winona Ryder (Best Supporting Actress, The Age of Innocence, 1993, Best Actress, Little Women, 1994), Chris Evans (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers), Academy Award nominee James Franco (Best Actor, 127 Hours, 2010, also Spring Breakers, Oz: The Great and Powerful) and Ray Liotta (Killing Them Softly).

Based on the book "The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer" by Anthony Bruno, The Iceman was directed by Ariel Vromen from a screenplay by Morgan Land and Ariel Vromen. Ehud Bleiberg and Ariel Vromen produced, with René Besson, Boaz Davidson, Danny Dimbort, Lati Grobman, Avi Lerner, Laura Rister and Trevor Short serving as executive producers.

Inspired by actual events, THE ICEMAN follows notorious contract killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) from his early days in the mob until his arrest for the murder of more than 100 men. Appearing to be living the American dream as a devoted husband and father; in reality Kuklinski was a ruthless killer-for-hire. When finally arrested in 1986, neither his wife nor daughters have any clue about his real profession.

The Great Gatsby on Instant Video

Aspiring writer Nick Carraway goes to New York City at the height of the Roaring Twenties and is drawn into the world of the super-rich and the mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby.

The Great Gatsby on Instant VideoThe Great Gatsby on Instant Video

Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen.

A terrorist mastermind kidnaps the President of the United States inside the White House, and a disgraced former Secret Service agent must save the President and take down the terrorists.

Starring: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Courtroom Drama Spotlights The Right To Stand Your Ground - A Cry For Justice #GeorgiaJustice

Stand Your Ground: A Cry for Justice depicts the real-life drama that GA resident Jackie Carpenter and her family were thrust into after her son was arrested for an accidental shooting. Based on Jackie’s two books, Stand Your Ground runs the gamut of emotions from tragedy to triumph and has all the makings of a blockbuster hit!

Stand Your Ground: A Cry for Justice

No mother should have to endure the ordeal that Jackie Carpenter and her family were put through as a result of her son’s arrest after he accidentally shot a man stealing from his worksite. And never in her wildest dreams could this Georgia mom have known that she would become an author as a result of this terrifying experience, that her two books would be made into an award-winning movie, or that her son’s case would be considered “textbook” in the annals of legal cases and be taught to future first year law students!

Taking first place in the Alaska International Film Festival, Stand Your Ground: A Cry For Justice by Triple Horse Studios is the award-winning movie that tells the gripping story of Jackie Carpenter’s quest to save her family. Jackie’s idyllic life was frozen in time the day she heard her son was arrested for felony murder when all he did was defend his worksite from constant theft. Unfortunately, as he held the men at bay while waiting for the police to arrive, his gun accidentally fired and one of the men died. This is a movie that everyone needs to see because it shows how something that happens in a split second can change a life forever. While it has all the terror and tragedy of a blockbuster movie hit, this one is real life!

Stand Your Ground, tells the explosive story of the ten-month trial and how Jackie Carpenter’s faith was tested to the max. The trailer for the movie won Award of Excellence in the Best Short Competition and Award of Merit in The Accolade Competition, and has been nominated as Best Picture in the ICVM Crown Awards and entered in the Gideon Film Festival! Please watch: to see the exciting trailer.

Feeling physically, mentally and emotionally ill through the first six months of this ordeal resulted in Jackie questioning her faith. All this loving mom knew was that she needed God on her side throughout the trial and she prayed relentlessly, asking for strength and renewed faith. Once she stopped doubting, courage replaced fear and she knew that God heard her plea.

Jackie’s first book, The Bridge: Between Cell Block A and a Miracle is Psalm 91, tells the traumatic events after her son’s arrest and how she used the prayer of protection, Psalm 91, to help face the turmoil of emotions raging through her and help her find the strength to hold her family together. Her second book, Georgia Justice, is a story of building faith. Jackie was able to overcome the grips of doubt and depression and her book acts as a guide for anyone wanting to renew and strengthen faith and hope on the road to ultimate victory.

Jackie Carpenter has been a featured guest on television, radio, and in newspaper articles. For information on Jackie and her books, or the extraordinary movie that will have audiences white-knuckled and hanging on to the edge of their seats, please visit:

Escobar versus Cali: The War of the Cartels - Chronicles Epic Struggle Between Pablo Escobar & Cali Cartel in History’s Biggest #GangWar

Escobar VS Cali: The War of the Cartels (Gangland Mysteries), chronicles the fascinating story of history’s biggest gang war. The setting: Colombia, South America; the time: the 1980s and early 1990s. The participants were known as cartels, and they were responsible for flooding the world with billions of dollars worth of cocaine. The epic death struggle pitted Pablo Escobar, the so called “World’s Greatest Outlaw” and leader of the Medellin cartel, against the brothers Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, “The Chess Player,” and Miguel Rodriguez Orejuela, “The Boss”. the leaders of the powerful Cali cartel. The war left thousands of Colombians dead, spawned the term “narcoterrorism” and almost turned Colombia into a narcodemocracy. The gang war, moreover, had major implications for the U.S.’s War on Drug.

When the momentous battle ended, Escobar was dead and the Cali Cartel stood tall as the world’s most powerful drug trafficking organization. So who were the major players in the gangland war? How did it play out? Who took out Pablo Escobar? What role did the U.S. play? Author Ron Chepesiuk takes the reader behind the scenes of the war to the death and investigates a gangland mystery. Escobar versus Cali: The War of the Cartels is must read for anyone who enjoys true crime and a good story. D4 Entertainment has optioned the film rights to the book.

Trailer for @ChiraqtheMovie focuses on Violence in Chicago with Satire #MurderCapitalUSA #Chiraq

Monday, September 21, 2015

Kevin Weeks Calls Whitey Bulger #BlackMass Movie Bogus

From 1978-1994, Kevin Weeks served as a member of the Winter Hill Gang, and a close friend, confidant, and henchman to Whitey Bulger. And he says Johnny Depp’s film is bogus.

“We really did kill those people,” says Kevin Weeks, the former mobster and right-hand man to notorious crime boss Whitey Bulger. “But the movie is a fantasy.”

The film that has Weeks riled up is Black Mass. Directed by Scott Cooper, it stars Johnny Depp as Winter Hill Gang leader James “Whitey” Bulger, and depicts the menacing Irishman’s rise up the criminal ranks from low-level gangster to the most feared criminal in not just his native South Boston, but the state of Massachusetts. Whitey was able to rise so far so fast thanks to his special relationship with the FBI, especially agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton)—an old neighborhood friend on Whitey’s payroll who’d funnel him information in exchange for intel on the local Italian mafia, led by Gennaro Angiulo. Bulger was eventually arrested in 2011 at an apartment complex in Santa Monica, California, after being on the run for 17 years, and was indicted for 19 murders. He was convicted of 11 of those murders, and is serving two consecutive life sentences behind bars. Interestingly enough, while Whitey’s reign of terror was going on, his brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) was the most powerful politician in the state, serving as president of the Massachusetts State Senate.

Weeks, who’s portrayed in the film by Friday Night Lights’ Jesse Plemons, started out in 1976 as a bouncer at Whitey’s local haunt Triple O’s, and by 1978 he was serving as Whitey’s driver and personal muscle. He officially joined the Winter Hill Gang full-time in 1982, and, along with Johnny Martorano and Stephen Flemmi, served as one of Whitey’s devoted henchmen. In 1999, Weeks was arrested on a 29-count indictment in a RICO case. In exchange for his damning grand testimony against Whitey, Weeks received a 5-year prison sentence. He was released in 2004, and has since penned three books, including the recent Hunted Down: The FBI's Pursuit and Capture of Whitey Bulger, which hit shelves on July 22.

And to say that Weeks is unhappy with the film would be a major understatement. “My character looks like a knuckle-dragging moron,” says Weeks. “I look like I have Down syndrome.”

According to Weeks, the filmmakers behind Black Mass “didn’t consult with anyone within the inner circle about the movie,” and as a result, there are major discrepancies between what really happened and what happens onscreen.

The Daily Beast spoke with Weeks—who saw the film opening night—who opened up about what Black Mass got right and wrong, the murders they committed, and a foiled attempt to assassinate Boston Herald journalist Howie Carr.

You saw Black Mass on Friday night. What did you think of it?

Very disappointing. The only resemblance to Whitey’s character was the hairline. The funny thing is, Whitey’s look didn’t really change at all, just his clothes. It’s like we were stuck in a time warp. And the mannerisms—the way that Whitey talked to us—he never swore at us. In all the years I was with that man, he never swore at me once. We never yelled at each other. The opening scene of me getting beaten up? That never happened. They also have me talking to a black FBI agent in the beginning of the film, but I wouldn’t talk to the FBI. I spoke to a DEA agent, Dan Doherty. And my cooperation came after Johnny Martorano started cooperating. Nothing in the film is chronological, really.

The biggest chronological discrepancy in the film was the death of Bulger’s son, which took place in 1973. The film makes it seem like his boy died later than that in order to position it as his motivation for upping his killing and crime activity.

They made it seem like that was the reason why. I wasn’t there for the death of his son—that happened before my time—but I was there for the death of his mother, which he took pretty bad. But really, Whitey was violent long before his son’s death. And the way the film portrays people like Stephen Flemmi and myself? We come across looking like a step away from Down syndrome, really. We’re portrayed as these low-life thugs that are borderline morons who haven’t washed for weeks. For all the money we were makin’, we came off like paupers. We dressed a certain way during the day, but at night we were wearing $2,700 Louis suits. There’s a scene early on in the film where Johnny Martorano’s character is at the bar Triple O’s, and is reaching into a peanut bowl, licking his fingers, and sticking them back into the bowl, and Whitey starts mocking him for it. First of all, Johnny Martorano was never in Triple O’s. Second, if Whitey ever started talking to Johnny like that—berating him—the movie would be over because Johnny would’ve shot him right then. As bad as Whitey was, Johnny was just as capable—if not more.

Right. Johnny was known as “The Basin Street Butcher.”

He was a violent killer. There’s another scene later on where Whitey is yelling at Stevie [Flemmi] in the car outside the police station where they’re waiting to pick up Deborah Hussey. The language is all wrong. We never really cursed like that unless we were grabbing somebody, and Whitey never would’ve berated Stevie, either. Stevie was a psychopath. Stevie would’ve killed him. And Stevie is portrayed as a very sympathetic character.

In the scene you mention, they pick up Hussey, take her to a house, and Whitey strangles her to death.

Right. And I’m already in the house—they show me in the background. The true story is that me and Jimmy went to that house and we were waiting for Stevie. That house was for sale, and we already had two bodies buried downstairs. When I get to the house with Jimmy, he says, “Oh, we’re waiting for Stevie and Deborah. Stevie might buy the place.” I go and use the bathroom upstairs, and as soon as I come down the stairs, I see Stevie and Deborah come in, and I hear boom-boom. I walk in and see that Jimmy had strangled her. I thought she was dead, but then Stevie put his head on her chest, said she was still alive, and he put a clothesline rope around her neck, put a stick in it and twisted. And then after, Stevie dragged her body downstairs and pulled her teeth out. So Stevie wasn’t all sympathetic, mourning, and sorrowful like he is in the movie. Stevie enjoyed murder.

Back to Johnny Depp’s performance as Whitey. The film made Whitey seem—relatively speaking—like a sympathetic character. He’s portrayed as a very loving family man.

He had a son, Douglas, and he did die of Reye’s syndrome, but Jimmy wasn’t this doting father. Lindsey [Cyr] lived in Quincy, and he used to preach to me all the time, “If you’re gonna be a criminal, you shouldn’t have kids. They’re a liability.” And that scene at the dinner table between Jimmy and Douglas where he tells his son, “Punch them when the other kid isn’t looking,” he didn’t talk to kids like that. He was my older son’s godfather and I remember the way he’d talk to my son. He just talked to him like he was a young kid. Oh, you playing baseball? Normal conversation. He didn’t bring business back to the house. So his portrayal of him, outside of the makeup, I couldn’t believe it. The hairline was fine but the teeth were terrible, too. Jimmy had one front tooth and a nerve in it had died so it was one shade less than white—a little yellow, ya know. And his girlfriend, Cathy [Greig], was a hygienist, so his teeth were in great shape except for that one tooth.

Whitey looks vampiric in the film—like a ghoul.

He really does. There’s one scene I have a really big problem with, and that’s a scene down in Miami. Now, I was never down in Miami and they never met Johnny [Martorano] down in Miami. They met Johnny out in a hotel by La Guardia Airport, and it was just Jimmy, Stevie, and Johnny who discussed the John Callahan murder, which came after Roger Wheeler. In the scene in the film, they have me down in Miami and we’re all sitting there. Callahan goes to give Jimmy a big of money and Jimmy says, “Give that to Kevin.” And I take it. And then Stevie supposedly propositions Brian Halloran to kill Roger Wheeler, and Jimmy notices Halloran’s demeanor and says, “Kevin, give him the bag with the $20,000 in it, and forget what you heard here.” That never happened. In fact, I didn’t know about Roger Wheeler’s death until the Callahan murder. So just by having me be there giving Halloran the money, they have involved me in a conspiracy to kill Roger Wheeler. I’ve been libeled. I wasn’t involved in that at all, so I have a big problem with that. I just don’t know where they get the right to put events in there that did not happen.

What about the turf war between the Winter Hill Gang and the Angiulo crime family?

Well, another scene in the beginning where Jimmy pulls up, I get in the car, then we drive somewhere and beat up a guy, and his name is “Joey Angiulo,” and he’s identified as Jerry Angiulo’s nephew. Just by saying that name, “Angiulo,” that never would’ve happened because if it did, there would have been a war. If it did, to make peace, Jerry Angiulo would’ve said, “Kill Kevin, and it’s over.” That scene did happen to another fellow, Paul Giaimo, and the story was that he’d slapped Whitey’s niece.  We got him in the car, drove up to M Street Park, proceeded to give him a beating, then drove him up to Cassidy’s and left the body out front so all his friends could see. Then we found out later on that we beat up the wrong person. But by making up this name and saying “Angiulo” and the mafia, it was so unrealistic. There would have been bodies in the streets if that happened.

As far as the FBI is concerned, the film seemed to really let the Bureau off the hook. John Connolly and John Morris are the only FBI agents in the film who seem to know about Whitey’s double-dealing, and they’re portrayed as sympathetic pawns, to a degree.

The FBI were the ones that enabled Jimmy and Stevie to survive. There’s a scene early on in the film where Connolly and Jimmy make this “alliance,” and then Jimmy goes back and tells Stevie about how they’re going to use the FBI against the mafia. That didn’t happen because Stevie had already been an important since 1965. In 1967, Flemmi and Frank Salemme blew up Joe Barboza’s attorney, John Fitzgerald, and then Stevie and Frankie went on the run, with Frankie going down to New York and Stevie going up to Montreal. Stevie comes back to Boston in 1974, and then the following year, Jimmy becomes an informant. And Connolly was on the payroll. We considered Connolly a criminal, too. He was our informant, and that’s how it was portrayed to all of us—that we were paying for his information. That’s why no one suspected that Jim Bulger was informing on us, because every time we made a score we’d put money aside to pay our contacts in law enforcement, and we were getting good information. Jimmy used to tell me, “I can call any one of six FBI agents and they’ll come to me and jump in this car with a machine gun and go on a hit.” One FBI agent actually gave us 17 kilos of C-4 which we were going to use to blow up a reporter, Howie Carr. Howie thought it was a made-up story, until he found out it was the truth.

Why did Bulger want to assassinate Howie Carr?

He was just a vicious bastard. He was attacking everybody—innocent people and everything. There was a time when we weren’t doing much and everything was running smoothly, and he wrote an article about this kid in South Boston who got killed, and Jimmy decided to make him a hobby and shut him up once and for all. When I look back on it, I wish we did kill him. He’s still the most hated reporter in Boston. Everybody hates him.

And it wasn’t just the FBI that knew about Whitey and what he was doing. Jeremiah O’Sullivan, the head of the organized crime task force, was giving information to Connolly. Every time Whitey or Stevie’s name was mentioned they’d give the information to Connolly knowing that Connolly would be giving the information to us. They were all on the payroll. All of them were receiving presents all the time—money, wine, trips. Some agents you couldn’t give money to because they’d feel insulted, so you’d give them a crystal or a Chelsea Clock. Everybody had their weakness.

One mystery surrounding Whitey Bulger is the Lady of the Dunes—the nickname for the body of the mysterious woman found at the Race Point Dunes. Many believe Bulger murdered her.

That wasn’t him. What happened was, because of Deborah Hussey and Debra Davis being killed, he used to visit Provincetown. And he’d usually have his girlfriend or a young girl he was with. But Whitey didn’t kill her. That’s just people jumping on it and saying, “It could have been him.” He didn’t do it.

But Whitey did kill Debra Davis, you’re saying? That murder was never actually proven to be Whitey’s doing.

I wasn’t there for Debra Davis—it was just Jim Bulger and Steve Flemmi—but here’s the story I was told: [Whitey] told me how when he was in the house with Stevie, they grabbed Debra, dragged her downstairs to the basement, and put her in a chair. She was being killed because she was going to leave Stevie, and he’d told her too much—including about his relationship with John Connolly. So she’s in the chair and Stevie begins putting duct tape around her. She had beautiful hair, so Jim Bulger said to me, “When the duct tape went around her face and her hair, that’s when I knew it was over.” And Stevie kissed her on the forehead and said, “You’re going to another place now.” And then Jim Bulger’s exact words to me were, “And then she was strangled.” So he didn’t say who strangled her.

The relationship between Whitey and his brother Billy has always fascinated me—that the most notorious crime boss in Boston could have a brother who, as president of the Massachusetts State Senate, was the most powerful politician in Massachusetts.

OK, I was up at Billy Bulger’s house over 100 times with Jimmy. He never discussed any street business or crime with Billy. It was always conversations about regular family stuff. There’s no doubt in my mind that Billy knew Jimmy was involved in the rackets, but as far as the murders, if Billy did hear something about that I bet he’d choose not to believe it, because he’s a very religious man. There was the case of Senator John E. Powers, who was a judge. He fired Whitey from being a janitor at the courthouse. Billy never forgave him for that because after Whitey was fired from that job, he started committing all these crimes and stuff. So when it came to John E. Powers getting a raise or anything like that, it never made it past Billy Bulger in the Senate. So if someone was attacking his family, sure, he would stick it to that person whatever way he could legally. But as far as shielding Whitey from investigations? Billy never did that. Never.

Whitey’s attorney, Hank Brennan, recently shot down Black Mass, saying that “the real menace to Boston during that time and in other mob cases around the country—the federal government’s complicity in each and every one of those murders with the top echelon informant program.”

Well, [Jay Carney, Bulger's other attorney] is a buffoon. I mean, really. He was supposed to defend Jim Bulger, and when he stood up and gave his opening remarks, he basically admitted to every charge. What, he’s spoken to Jim Bulger for a hundred hours, and that’s supposed to make him something? Now, he speaks about Jim like he’s his best friend. He doesn’t know a thing about the real Jim Bulger, what’s happened, or anything. He’s literally a buffoon.

But it was the federal government that enabled us to get as far as we did. Without their interference, we would’ve been a short-lived gang. In some cases, we knew about investigations before they’d even been approved, or received financing. And it wasn’t just Connolly and the FBI. There was a bug in the Lancaster Street Garage that was given to us by a state trooper. The state police keep trying to pin it all on the FBI, but they were tipping us off, too. Whitey had his hands in everything. He had FBI. He had the Boston Police. He had Quincy Police. He had one guy in the DEA who was saying stuff to Connolly. He had people all over law enforcement that were giving information to him. With the movie, there’s no accuracy at all. The premise of corruption with the FBI is right, but as far as the events, the people, and the personalities? You could’ve told the truth and the movie would’ve been more violent than it is but they fabricated events. The movie is pure fiction.

Thanks to Marlow Stern.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The True Story of #BlackMass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal, @BlackMassMovie

John Connoly and James "Whitey" Bulger grew up together on the streets of South Boston. Decades later, in the mid 1970's, they would meet again.  By then, Connolly was a major figure in the FBI's Boston office and Whitey had become godfather of the Irish Mob.  What happened next — a dirty deal to bring down the Italian mob in exchange for protection for Bulger — would spiral out of control, leading to murders, drug dealing, racketeering indictments, and, ultimately, the biggest informant scandal in the history of the FBI.

Compellingly told by two Boston Globe reporters who were on the case from the beginning, Black Mass: Whitey Bulger, the FBI, and a Devil's Deal is at once a riveting crime story, a cautionary tale about the abuse of power, and a penetrating look at Boston and its Irish population.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Bugsy - The Original Gangster

I was catching up on some old issues of the Wall Street Journal that I had not read yet, when I saw a full page ad for what they called The Original Gangster, Bugsy. For the 15th anniversary, Tri-Star released an all-new unrated, extended cut, completely remastered and loaded with new special features. If that sounds like an ad, it is because I pulled it right from the paper. I had forgotten that Bugsy won a Golden Globe for Best Drama and had been nominated of Best Picture at the Oscar's along with 9 other nominations. Hence, I have an updated preview on the DVD.

This is the 1991 movie in which notorious ladies man Warren Beatty finally met his match in his feisty co-star Annette Bening. The pair sparred on set and off -- and have been happily married ever since.

Beatty needed a strong foil for his ferocious performance as Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel, the real-life, brutal New York gangster who aimed for the big time after moving to Los Angeles in the 1930s.

After pursuing and conquering sexy Hollywood starlet Virginia Hill (Bening), a one-time prostitute who had also worked for the Chicago mob, Siegel dreamed of making millions from gambling in a then-small desert town called Las Vegas. He built the original Flamingo Hotel, but enraged his eastern crime bosses when the project ran millions over budget. He was killed by mob hitmen in 1947, just a few years before Vegas started generating billions.

Beatty and Bening make a terrific pair, but Bugsy also features a notable performance from Ben Kingsley as Siegel's childhood friend and later crime associate Meyer Lansky.

A powerful and evocative film, Bugsy gets the two-disc treatment here to include some great documentaries and extra features.

Thanks to Andy Cooper

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Don't Call Me Bugsy Documentary

A curious phenomenon occurs all too often with documentary films about organized crime. Even the most rational and high-minded documentarian tends to fall prey to the notion that they must adhere to the tropes of a gangster B-movie. Don't Call Me Bugsy, which details the rise and fall of Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, is no exception. From its self-consciously hardboiled voiceover narration to its formulaic presentation, the 70-minute doc is a passable, if unexceptional, examination of the underworld figure who helped create modern-day Las Vegas.

Don't Call Me Bugsy touches on the essentials about SiegelDon't Call Me Bugsy, whose crazy temper earned him the sobriquet "Bugsy," a nickname he despised (hence the title of the flick). Born in Brooklyn, he aligned himself at an early age with fellow gangsters Meyer Lansky and Charles "Lucky" Luciano. Lansky was the brains of the outfit and Luciano the connection to the Sicilian Mafia, but Siegel possessed the murderous instinct that made him the favored triggerman. True-crime author Tim Power notes that the trio was undeniably vicious, but "it's impossible not to admire their energy, their drive."

As Prohibition ensured there was a fortune to be made trafficking in illegal booze, the Luciano-Lansky-Siegel alliance maneuvered to head criminal activities in New York and along the East Coast. In 1931, Siegel and three others killed old-school Mob boss Joe Masseria, setting the stage for the new generation of young Turks to transform organized crime into more of a streamlined business operation. But Siegel was restless for more adventure and, in 1935, relocated to Los Angeles. Enlisting the help of childhood-friend-turned-actor George Raft, Siegel dived into Beverly Hills society. His movie-star looks and roguish charm made him a favorite among polite society, particularly with rich women.

His most significant achievement, however, came when Lansky directed Siegel to spearhead the construction of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gambling had been legal in the dusty desert town since the mid-1930s, but Lansky envisioned a gaming Mecca along the lines of what organized crime had built in pre-Castro Cuba.

Siegel took to the assignment with a vengeance, sparing no expense in his desire to make the Flamingo a world-class destination. Nevertheless, costly delays and a ballooning budget assured his own demise. In 1947, Siegel was gunned down in his Beverly Hills home, a crime that remains unsolved.

The documentary intersperses black-and-white still photographs and archival footage with a handful of interviews from true-crime experts and various folks who knew Siegel, including his lawyer, barber and next-door neighbor. While the interviewees offer some juicy tidbits, they must compete with a hackneyed voiceover narration read by Larry Moran. When relating Siegel's 1926 arrest for rape, the narrator's sonorous voice tells us, "When it came to sex, he didn't discriminate. He didn't always ask, either." Siegel's longtime girlfriend, Virginia Hill, is described as "a feisty redhead from the foothills of North Carolina." Cue the eye-rolling. It's enough to make Mickey Spillane shudder.

It isn't a bad documentary, but it is uninspired and surprisingly lifeless. Too much of the film is a recitation of facts that don't shed much light on the subject. Only when we get to the saga of the Flamingo does Don't Call Me Bugsy really grab you, and most of that is due to rarely seen footage of Las Vegas in its early days.

The Video: The full-frame picture is solid but unremarkable. A few of the modern-day interviews suffer from softness, but much of the black-and-white archival footage is in very good condition.

The Audio: The 2.0 Stereo audio track gets the job done without any fanfare. The sound is somewhat flat, but you clearly hear the interviews and voiceover narrator, which is all that an audience would need.

English subtitles are available, but it should be noted that whoever is responsible for them evidently has little understanding of when a comma is necessary.

Extras: None.

Final Thoughts: Made in 1992, Don't Call Me Bugsy is a run-of-the-mill true-crime documentary that packs more information than it does illumination. The film chronicles Siegel's extravagant tastes for the Flamingo, but there is no speculation about what prompted it. What was his vision for Las Vegas? Did he even have a vision for it? People fascinated by organized crime (a group that includes your reviewer) would be better-served elsewhere, while viewers with only a casual interest are not likely to find much here worth their time.

Thanks to Phil Bacharach

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mobster and Las Vegas Casino Owner Moe Greene Actor from The Godfather, Alex Rocco, Has Died

Alex Rocco, the veteran tough-guy character actor with the gravelly voice best known for playing mobster and Las Vegas casino owner Moe Greene in The Godfather, has died. He was 79.

Rocco died Saturday, his daughter, Jennifer, announced on Facebook.

No other details of his death were immediately available. Rocco, who studied acting with the late Leonard Nimoy, a fellow Boston-area transplant, also was the voice of Roger Meyers Jr., the cigar-smoking chairman of the studio behind “Itchy and Scratchy” on The Simpsons, and he played Arthur Evans, the father of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character, on the stylish Starz series Magic City.

Rocco starred as a white Detroit detective who is reluctantly paired with a black detective (Hari Rhodes) in Arthur Marks’ Detroit 9000 (1973) and voiced an ant in A Bug’s Life (1998). “That was my greatest prize ever in life, because I did about eight lines as an ant, and I think I made over a million dollars,” he said in a 2012 interview.

Rocco won an Emmy Award in 1990 for best supporting actor in a comedy for playing sneaky Hollywood talent agent Al Floss on the short-lived CBS series The Famous Teddy Z, starring Jon Cryer.

He also had regular roles on The Facts of Life (as Charlie Polniaczek, the father of Nancy McKeon’s character, Jo), The George Carlin Show, Three for the Road, Sibs and The Division.

In the 2012 interview, Rocco said that landing the role of Jewish mobster Moe in The Godfather (1972) was “without a doubt, my biggest ticket anywhere. I mean that literally.” “When I got the part, I went in to Francis Ford Coppola, and in those days, the word was, ‘Read [Mazio Puzo’s] book,’ which I already did, and then the actor would suggest to him which part they would like. Well, I went for … I dunno, one of the Italian parts. Maybe the Richard Bright part [Al Neri]. But Coppola goes, ‘I got my Jew!’ And I went, ‘Oh no, Mr. Coppola, I’m Italian. I wouldn’t know how to play a Jew.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, shut up.’ [Laughs.] He says, ‘The Italians do this,’ and he punches his fingers up. ‘And the Jews do this,’ and his hand’s extended, the palm flat. Greatest piece of direction I ever got. I’ve been playing Jews ever since."

"And people on the golf course will say, ‘Hey, Alex, would you call my dad and leave a line from The Godfather?’ I say, ‘OK. “I buy you out, you don’t buy me out!” “He was bangin’ cocktail waitresses two at a time …” “Don’t you know who I am?” ’ [Laughs.] But I enjoy doing it. It’s fun. I’ve been leaving Moe Greene messages for 40 years.”

Born Alexander Federico Petricone in Cambridge, Mass., Rocco came to L.A. in the early 1960s and made his movie debut in Motorpsycho! (1965), directed by Russ Meyer, and he was a henchman on Batman in 1967 in the episodes in which the Dynamic Duo meet up with the Green Hornet and Kato. Rocco worked frequently with Alan Arkin, being paired with him on such films as Freebie and the Bean (1974), Hearts of The West (1975), Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins (1975) and Fire Sale (1977).

His film résumé also includes The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967), The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), Joan Rivers’ Rabbit Test (1978), The Stunt Man (1980), Herbie Goes Bananas (1980), The Pope Must Diet (1991), Get Shorty (1995), That Thing You Do! (1996), The Wedding Planner (2001), Smokin’ Aces (2006) and Find Me Guilty (2006). He recently showed up on Episodes and Maron, where he played another agent.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Goodfellas Named Top Film

As reported by the Scotsman, Total Film Magazine has named Goodfellas as its top film . Some excerpts from the article:

Total Film magazine, which compiled the list, said: "Goodfellas has it all - story, dialogue, performances, technique. It is slick, arguably the slickest film ever made. But it is also considered, layered and freighted with meaning."

The Godfather: Part II, another film that has topped countless movie polls, is fifth.

The Scotsman's film critic, Alistair Harkness, hailed Goodfellas as a "perfect combination of material, director and story". He said: "It is so visceral and exciting. It's a modern classic and that's why people love it so much. It tends to be at the top of most people's lists of modern movies anyway, so I'm not surprised.

However, he picked Fight Club as his personal favourite in a list that is destined to reopen a thousand bar-room debates. "It summed up a moment in time, that pre-millennium era, in a similar way as The Graduate did in the Sixties," he said.

Nicola Hay, the programmer of the Edinburgh Film Guild, the UK's oldest film society, said she was disappointed in the overall selection. "While no-one can begrudge Scorsese the accolades his career so richly deserves, looking at this list, it is disappointing to note the overabundance of modern American product and the dearth of British film and world cinema," she said. "As to whether Goodfellas is the best film ever made, I personally don't think so. Some of the others in the top ten definitely aren't that fantastic, such as The Empire Strikes Back and The Lord of the Rings trilogy."

Goodfellas stars Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of the terrifying character Tommy DeVito.

The story revolves around a real-life gangster, Henry Hill, who "ratted out" his Mafia buddies in 1980 and has lurked in the federal witness protection programme ever since. Despite this, Hill has appeared on US television and radio shows and even written the best-selling Wiseguy Cookbook, featuring his favourite Italian recipes.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

These Who Killed JFK? Conspiracy Theories Will Not Die

He defected to the Soviet Union, returned to the United States with a Russian-born wife, and tried to get Soviet and Cuban visas before assassinating President John F. Kennedy. Fifty-plus years later, only a quarter of Americans are convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Instead, nearly 60 percent say there was a conspiracy to kill the president, according to a poll by The Associated Press-GfK.

Other theories cropped up almost immediately and have endured: the Soviets murdered Kennedy or the CIA, Cuban exiles, Fidel Castro, the country's military-industrial complex, even President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Warren Commission Report found in its 879-page report on the assassination that Oswald acted alone -- but it is still being criticized from all sides. The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979 that it was likely Kennedy was killed as a result of a conspiracy.

What did happen in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963? Who killed Kennedy? Here are a few of those theories.


The Warren Commission Report concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald fired three bullets, all from the Texas School Book Depository. But disagreements persisted over whether Texas Governor John Connally was wounded by one of the bullets that had already hit Kennedy in the neck. Skeptics pounced on the single-bullet theory and got a boost from Connally himself who testified before the commission that he had been hit separately. Tapes released by the National Archives in 1994 show that President Lyndon B. Johnson thought so too. And if the men were hit at about the same time by different bullets, there had to have been a second gunman.

This year a father-and-son team Luke and Michael Haag took another look at the controversy using the most up-to-date technology and concluded on a PBS "Nova" documentary that the one bullet could have hit both men.


Witnesses reported hearing shots from the now famous grassy knoll ahead of the president's limousine in Dealey Plaza. In his book, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato reports that some Dallas policemen who ran up the knoll encountered people with Secret Service credentials. Who were they? The policemen let them go, and only later discovered that there were no Secret Service agents still in Dealey Plaza, said Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and author of "The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy." Conspiracy theorists, meanwhile, poured over the amateur film made by Abraham Zapruder, frame by frame, and insisted that it showed the president being shot from the front.

In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations challenged the Warren Commission's conclusions and decided that an audio recording -- from a motorcycle policeman whose microphone was stuck in the "on" position -- caught the sound of four gunshots being fired, one possibly from the grassy knoll. The finding was discounted three years later by the National Academy of Sciences which said that the noises were made after the assassination. Sabato had the recording re-examined and says the sounds are not gunshots at all, but an idling motorcycle and the rattling of a microphone.


The Mafia is a favorite culprit because the mob disliked Kennedy's brother, Robert. The aggressive attorney general had gone after James Hoffa, the president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters with his own connections to the Mafia. Plus the crime bosses were angry over Kennedy's failed attempts to overthrow Fidel Castro, who had closed their casinos in Havana. Some accounts have crime bosses bringing over hit men from Italy or France for the job; others accuse the CIA of hiring mobsters to kill the president.

Then there was Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who shot Oswald in the basement of the Dallas police station two days after the assassination. Ruby was connected to the Chicago mob and allegedly smuggled guns first to Castro and then to anti-Castro groups. The Associated Press reported the morning of the shooting that police were looking into the possibility that Oswald had been killed to prevent him from talking.

Oswald had mob connections too. In New Orleans before the assassination, he stayed at the home of an uncle who was a bookmaker with ties to the Mafia.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that organized crime as a group did not assassinate the president, but left open the possibility that individual members might have been involved. It singled out Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante as two men with "the motive, means and opportunity," though it was unable to establish direct evidence of their complicity.


The Cuban dictator had no lack of motive to want the American president dead: the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA's attempts to kill him -- with Mob help. Only two months before the assassination, Castro said: "United States leaders should think that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, they themselves will not be safe."

In Philip Shenon's book, "A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination," Shenon reports that a Warren Commission staff member, William Coleman, was sent to meet with Castro and was told that the Cuban regime had nothing to do with the assassination.

A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy AssassinationNot in Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the J.F.K. Assassination

A former BBC journalist and author of "Not in Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the J.F.K. Assassination," Anthony Summers, writes on his blog that he first heard the story from Coleman in 1994, though Coleman would not describe the assignment, saying it was confidential. Summers later recounted it and Coleman's denial in a 2006 article in the Times of London. Summers says Coleman brought back documents, which he said were in the National Archives.


The country was deep in the Cold War and Oswald had myriad connections to the Soviet Union. After a stint in U.S. Marines, he had defected there in 1959, and had married Marina Prusakova, whose uncle worked for Soviet domestic intelligence. Later while in Mexico, Oswald tried to get visas for Cuba and the Soviet Union.

Plus Nikita Khrushchev's gamble to place missiles in Cuba had failed. But KGB officer Vacheslav Nikonov told "Frontline" in 1993 that Oswald seemed suspicious to the KGB because he was not interested in Marxism.


Various versions have the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon or the Secret Service turning on Kennedy as a traitor and plotting his death. James W. Douglass in his 2008 book "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters," argues that Kennedy was killed because he had moved away from a Cold War view of the world and was seeking peace.

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters

Oliver Stone's movie, "JFK," centers on New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who conducted his own investigation of the assassination. Garrison told Playboy magazine in 1967 that Kennedy was killed not by Oswald but by a guerrilla team of anti-Castro adventurers and the paramilitary right. The CIA had plotted the assassination together with the military-industrial complex because both wanted to continue the Cold War and the escalation of the conflict in Vietnam, he said.

The Warren Commission staff members who are still living say that to this day no facts have emerged undercutting their conclusions: Oswald was the assassin and neither he nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy. But the conspiracy theories are likely to linger.

Thanks to Noreen O'Donnell.


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