The disgraceful movie treatment of Paul Lieberman’s Gangster Squad.
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Meanwhile, Cohen, who undoubtedly killed at least one fellow hood but liked to claim more, has been turned into a contemporary Vlad the Impaler. In the opening scene he has a Chicago gangster torn in half by two opposing cars the way people used to be quartered by horses during the Middle Ages. Director Ruben Fleischer collected a teenager audience with Zombieland and apparently didn’t want lose them to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. During the remainder of the film, Penn: 1) incinerates a clumsy lackey in an elevator shaft, 2) orders his boys to put an electric drill through the head of a rival gangster (“You know the drill,” he tells them), and 3) mows down street crowds, including an innocent newsboy whose death finally persuades Gosling/Sgt. Wooters to join the squad. All this is carried out amid the predictable car chases, fiery smash-ups, and the explosion of a truck carrying a (fictional) heroin shipment that levels half a block of Chinatown. (Cohen was not known to deal in drugs.) Instead of just a crime boss trying to muscle other mobsters out of the bookmaking and extortion rackets, Cohen becomes a Batman-style overlord trying to bring the whole city to its knees.
In the final scene — perhaps inspired by Cohen’s putting two bullets in the ceiling of the Roosevelt — the Gangster Squad launches a full-scale attack on Cohen’s hideout in the historic Park Plaza Hotel. Blessedly, the hotel staff and guests have gone home for the weekend, leaving the rival gangs to shoot it out. Their Tommy guns bring down chandeliers and shred the Christmas decorations, killing at least a dozen, until — inevitably — O’Mara and Cohen finally duke it out with fists. All this to serve Cohen with an arrest warrant.
I came out of the movie theater with the same feeling I used to get reading the old horror comics of the 1950s. Until the industry voluntarily regulated itself in 1954 with the Comics Code Authority, it had turned out “comics” where bug-eyed victims would have their flesh picked clean by piranhas or their heads bashed in with baseballs. My elderly piano teacher had a stash in his parlor and every week while my sister was taking her lesson I would be hypnotically drawn into the pile where I pored over sickening scenes of blood and mayhem until I was nauseous. I always left saying, “I wish I hadn’t done that.”
So where in the annals of American history has there ever been a scene where rogue cops and gangsters shot it out for twenty minutes in the lobby of a major hotel without the regular police even bothering to show up? The answer is simple: 1) in the movies, and 2) in the minds of teenage boys, the sickest of whom will one day decide to act out such a scene himself. O’Mara’s granddaughter has written a long protest on Reddit complaining of the misrepresentations, but who cares? Hollywood does what Hollywood does. Asked if the industry could have made a more realistic film out of his 15 years of research, Lieberman says, “If a studio spends $75 million, they’ve got the right to make the film they want.”
“Think Global, Kill Local” was the poster for one movie showing the day Adam Lanza shot up Sandy Beach Elementary. In Hollywood, even Hansel and Gretel are now vengeful superheroes. Recently about 25 movie stars made a TV commercial in which they appeared in quick succession pleading for gun control to “end the violence” and “protect the children.” On the Internet, some clever wag has interspersed the ad with movie scenes in which the same actors and actresses spout their love of guns and plaster the landscape with bullets. It’s good entertainment. It also suggests that if you want to stop the next lunatic from killing a dozen or more innocents, the best place to start might be in that moral sewer on the west side of Los Angeles.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?