Showing posts with label 1930. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1930. Show all posts

23 December 2017

Gangsters move to the Big Screen II



The Public Enemy  - Starring James Cagney and Edward Burns. Released May 15, 1931

This gangster pic was released four months after Little Caesar and like the latter the story takes place in Chicago. Whereas Little Caesar dealt with the Italian underworld, the former deals with Irish hoodlums.


Like its predecessor, The Public Enemy also bases some of its characters and scenes on reality. The model for Paddy Ryan’s gang was Chicago’s North Side gang. One of the main gangsters with the mob is a big shot named Nails Nathan who is a guiding force of Tom Powers (James Cagney) and his friend Matt Doyle (Edward Burns). In the movie Nails Nathan gets thrown from a horse and is accidentally killed. Upset with the death of their friend and mentor, Powers and Doyle go to the stables and shoot the horse that Nathan was riding when killed. Sounds like pure Hollywood invention right? Nope. Actually happened. The Nails Nathan character is based on an actual Chicago gangster named Samuel “Nails” Morton, a top member of the North Side gang who was popular with his associates. Just like in the film, Morton was thrown from a horse and killed while out pleasure riding and his friends really did go to the stable and kill the horse. 

Nails Morton Chicago gangster rubbed out by a horse
The main foe of the Paddy Ryan mob is the gang headed by “Schemer” Burns. Cute nickname, anyone in Chicago with that moniker? Yup, but it was a North Sider, Schemer Drucci.

In the movie, a gang war breaks out  and there is a scene where Powers and Doyle are walking along the street and rival gangsters, who have been staking out their hideout from a machine gun nest in a second story apartment window, open fire and kill Doyle. This scene is inspired by the murder of North Side gangster Earl “Hymie” Weiss who was taken out by a machine gun nest while approaching the gang’s headquarters.

The film ends with the rival gang kidnapping a wounded Powers from the hospital and taking him for a one way ride. Gangsters wouldn't actually invade a hospital to finish a job would they? Well, turns out that idea may have been snatched from gangdom as well. Though not kidnapped, a year or so before the movie was released, a Newark, New Jersey gangster by the name of John "The Ape" Passelli was bumped off in the hospital while recuperating from a botched hit. 




Any other scenes or characters that are familiar to you?


02 February 2017

La Smootch Mort IV



On June 7, 1930, a tugboat chugging through a drainage canal outside of Chicago churned up a body that had been weighted down with seventy-five pounds of iron. Inside the dead man’s suit was a photo of pretty girl with the inscription, “Gene, I’ll be loving you always, Maria.” Could Maria have been Mary Collins? According to one writer; yes. As the body sat on the slab waiting for identification, somebody called Tom McLaughlin, the president of the Checker Cab Company, and asked him if his younger brother, Eugene “Red” McLaughlin—the very same gangster who was arrested for the murder of  victim number two, Irv Schlig— was missing. Tom said that Red hadn’t been seen in two weeks. The caller then told him about what the police dragged out of the drainage canal and Tom raced over to the morgue. There he officially identified the corpse as his younger brother. Shown the photo Tom reportedly said, “Yes, that’s Mary all right. I told him she was poison and he would get his, if he went around with that skirt.” Apparently Red laughed off the curse, not realizing he was victim number six.
 
 #6

The seventh and final gangster to succumb to the Kiss of Death girl was Sam Katz, an extortionist who specialized in kidnapping gamblers and holding them for ransom. One day, Katz and Mary were picked up and taken in for questioning. In regards to the Kiss of Death curse, one of the detectives told Mary, “Why don’t you quit this bird. Give him a break—Let him alone.” Both the Kiss of Death girl and Katz laughed it off. Two months later on July 16, 1932, Katz and two accomplices showed up to a gambler's office to shake him down. The trio had already kidnapped his brother once, and they threatened to kidnap him if he didn’t come up with a payoff. The gambler called the police and a trap was set. When the gangsters showed up to collect their loot, the gambler gave them a hundred bucks. They told him to go get more, so he left his office and the police ran in. The gangsters were told to put up their hands but Katz went for his gun and received a fatal blast from a shotgun for doing so. His confederates too, were killed.
Headline for #7

 

01 February 2017

La Smootch Mort III


Th saga of the Kiss of Death Girl continues with victim number four. We are told that he was another North Side bootlegger, named John Phillips, who a Mary Collins chronicler tells us, was at a night club called the Northern Lights with Ms. Collins and a few others. Because of their raucous behavior, the police were called. Phillips and his cronies were quicker on the draw then the cops and the gangsters walked the officers out of the club at gunpoint. Before they could get too far however, reinforcements showed up and Phillips was killed in an ensuing shootout. A newspaper search found one mention to support this claim but an actual news story covering the shooting proved elusive. There was however, a bandit named John Phillips killed in Chicago in a shootout in 1931. Perhaps the journalist got his dates mixed up and took some dramatic license. 

Number five, David Jerus a.k.a “Jew Bates”, was also a pal of Dean O’Banion’s. By 1930 Jerus had relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio, but distance couldn’t protect him from the curse. On December 5 of that year, Jerus and a confederate named Coates, tried to take a guy for a ride in Covington, Kentucky. The intended victim however, had a gun and a will to live. Once in the back he seat he drew his gun and shot both Jerus and Coates, who managed to shoot him back. Jerus lingered for a bit before officially claiming the number five title.

Headline for #5