Tagged: Gangster

The Grissom Gang: Tony Musante’s Brown Striped Suit

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Vitals

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagan, smooth and ruthless fringe mobster

Kansas City, Summer 1931

Film: The Grissom Gang
Release Date: May 28, 1971
Director: Robert Aldrich
Costume Designer: Norma Koch

Background

The Grissom Gang had intrigued me ever since I was in eighth grade. I was flipping through a book about crime cinema from the school library when I found myself paused on a full-page photo of a man in a bloody white dinner jacket stumbled out of a roadster while Kim Darby sat in the passenger seat with her mouth agape. I had been newly introduced to Bonnie and ClydeDillinger, and other films depicting that famous 1930s crime wave, but The Grissom Gang remained elusive.

Half a decade later, I was a college student with a considerably better budget and the vast resources of the internet at my disposal. I finally managed to track down a DVD of The Grissom Gang and, despite what the critics said, I was far from disappointed. Granted, I had no idea what to expect, so a sweaty, exploitative period crime piece from The Dirty Dozen was exactly what I was happy to get.

The Grissom Gang was the second major cinematic adaptation of James Hadley Chase’s 1939 novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish, following the poorly received British-made noir wannabe from 1948. When Robert Aldrich stepped into the wheelhouse for his adaptation, he kicked the setting back to the early 1930s when the Depression-era desperadoes reigned from powerful organized crime figures down to the lowliest highway robbers.

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The Sopranos: Paulie’s Tan Leather Jacket in “Pine Barrens”

Tony Sirico as "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri in "Pine Barrens", the eleventh episode of the third season of The Sopranos.

Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri in “Pine Barrens”, the eleventh episode of the third season of The Sopranos.

Vitals

Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri, mob captain and Army veteran

New Jersey, January 2001

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Pine Barrens” (Episode 3.11)
Air Date: May 6, 2001
Director: Steve Buscemi
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

Background

This year marks the 20th anniversary since The Sopranos made its debut on HBO, and the milestone has encouraged many to revisit the series, sharing their takes on their favorite episodes, characters, and moments. One episode that receives nearly unanimous praise is “Pine Barrens”, the famous third season episode that finds Jersey Mafia soldiers “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) and his ostensible protégé Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) stumbling through the snowy woods of south Jersey after a simple money pickup turns into a hit-gone-awry.

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Jack McGurn in The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Clint Ritchie as "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn in The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)

Clint Ritchie as “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn in The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967)

Vitals

Clint Ritchie as “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, born Vincenzo Gabaldi, Chicago mob enforcer

Chicago, Winter 1928

Film: The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Release Date: June 30, 1967
Director: Roger Corman

Background

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is one of the few true incidents from mob lore to have expanded into mainstream pop culture. The killing of seven men affiliated with Chicago’s North Side Gang on February 14, 1929, startled and intrigued the public with its brutality, and the event became symbolic of the ugly violence that permeated through Prohibition-era America. Continue reading

Scarface (1932) – Tony’s Silk Dressing Gown

Paul Muni and Karen Morley in Scarface (1932)

Paul Muni and Karen Morley in Scarface (1932)

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Paul Muni as Tony Camonte, ruthless Italian-born bootlegger and mob enforcer

Chicago, Summer 1927

Film: Scarface
Release Date: April 9, 1932
Director: Howard Hawks

Background

Tomorrow would have been the 120th birthday of Al Capone, had the infamous gangster not rotted to his syphilic demise in 1947.

Capone’s story remains one of the most frequently adapted for movies and TV, beginning with Rod Steiger in the cleverly titled 1959 film Al Capone through Neville Brand (twice), Ben Gazzara, Jason Robards, Ray Sharkey, and F. Murray Abraham, up through Robert de Niro’s iconic performance in The Untouchables (1987). The gangster was most recently—and most prolifically—portrayed by Stephen Graham in all five seasons of Boardwalk Empire, though Tom Hardy is set to play Capone in the upcoming feature film Fonzo.

Of course, a larger-than-life character like Al Capone didn’t have to wait until after he was dead to see his story unfold on the screen. While his name was never used in movies released during his lifetime, Capone provided the obvious inspiration for a number of gangsters in pre-Code crime cinema, most famously the ambitious, smooth, and lethal Tony Camonte, played by Paul Muni in Scarface. Continue reading

The Sopranos: Pilot Episode – Tony’s Black Polo Shirt

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano in the first episode of The Sopranos

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano in the first episode of The Sopranos

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James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob chief

New Jersey, Summer 1998

Series: The Sopranos
Episodes:
– “The Sopranos” (Episode 1.01, dir. David Chase, aired 1/10/1999)
– “46 Long” (Episode 1.02, dir. Dan Attias, aired 1/17/1999)
– “Pax Soprana” (Episode 1.06, dir. Alan Taylor, aired 2/14/1999)
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

Background

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the first episode of The Sopranos, the first time that the HBO logo fizzed away to the thumping sound of A3’s “Woke Up This Morning” as we follow Tony Soprano from the Holland Tunnel along the New Jersey Turnpike to his north Jersey home.

We are introduced to Tony himself in the first shot of the show as he sits, bemused by a nude statue in his new doctor’s waiting room. We soon learn that the doctor is Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), a psychiatrist, and that this ain’t the kind of mob entertainment you’re used to watching. Continue reading

Michael Corleone’s Black New Year’s Eve Suit

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974)

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974)

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Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, cold and calculating Mafia boss

Havana, New Year’s Eve 1958

Film: The Godfather Part II
Release Date: December 12, 1974
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Theadora Van Runkle

Background

Happy New Year’s Eve!

On this transitional #MafiaMonday, we transport back 60 years to New Year’s Eve 1958, a tumultuous night in world history as armed rebels connected to the vanguard 26th of July Movement overthrew Cuba’s incumbent president Fulgencio Batista, ending the five-year Cuban Revolution and establishing a communist government under the movement’s leader Fidel Castro.

“Gentlemen, to a night in Havana! Happy New Year… Feliz Año Nuevo!” toasts a gregarious Fredo Corleone (John Cazale) as he holds court in the Cuban capital with a bevy of politicians and his brother, taciturn and thoughtful mob boss Michael (Al Pacino). Continue reading

Tony Soprano’s Tan Windowpane Sport Jacket

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 5.02: "Rat Pack")

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 5.02: “Rat Pack”)

Vitals

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss

New Jersey, Spring 2004

Series: The Sopranos
Episodes:
– “Rat Pack” (Episode 5.02, dir. Alan Taylor, aired 3/14/2004)
– “In Camelot” (Episode 5.07, dir. Steve Buscemi, aired 4/18/2004)
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

Background

This week’s #MafiaMonday post celebrates the late James Gandolfini, the award-winning actor who would have celebrated his 57th birthday tomorrow.

Gandolfini won multiple awards, including three Emmys, for his performance as the tough yet troubled gangster Tony Soprano on HBO’s The Sopranos, setting the foundation for future TV icons. Continue reading