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Movies You Will Never See/Empires of Crime/Part 20

*For Introduction with submission guidelines go to Oct 13

*Heywood Gould is the author of 9 screenplays including “Rolling Thunder” “Fort Apache, The Bronx” “Boys From Brazil” and “Cocktail.”

EMPIRES OF CRIME

By Heywood Gould

PART III

ACT FOUR

INT. HAVANA HOTEL. NIGHT.

Cuba…A CONJUNTO BAND plays a Mambo. Anne Lansky sits morosely at a table  watching the graceful CUBAN COUPLES.

IN A DARK CORNER

Meyer is talking to FULGENCIO BATISTA a young Army Sergeant.

        MEYER
We’re still making alcohol,
Sergeant Batista and we
still need sugar…at the
right price.

        BATISTA
Cuba is a big plantation,
Mr. Lansky. A hundred tons
will never be missed. Give
me half the American price
per ton in cash, we will
ship it to a port of your
choice.

        MEYER
New Orleans. We control
Customs there. Will you
do business only with me?

        BATISTA
If it continues to be
profitable…

        MEYER
With all due respect,
Sergeant Batista, I think
I might need a General.

        BATISTA
This money you give me
will make me a General
very soon, Mr. Lansky.

Meyer smiles. He and Batista understand each other.

        MEYER
Beautiful country. But
not many tourists.

        BATISTA
They find it too hot.
Too many mosquitos. And
bandidos in the hills.

        MEYER
We could kill the mosquitos
and the bandidos. Build nice
hotels with gambling. Could
that be done?

        BATISTA
As long as it is profitable,
Mr. Lansky.

INT. HOTEL ROOM. NIGHT.

The Havana moon shines through the window, but Anne is inconsolable. She sits on the bed twisting a tearstained handkerchief as Meyer tries to convince her:

        MEYER
Cuba is the answer to
our prayers, Annie.
Charley’ll never leave
New York, Benny is happy
in Hollywood. We’ll have
the whole place to ourselves…

        ANNE
What can we do down here?

        MEYER
We’ll build a big hotel,
ours alone, no partners.
Right on the beach with a
pool and high class
entertainment…

        ANNE
And a casino?

        MEYER
People like to gamble, honey,
I’m not putting a gun to their
head.

        ANNE
Then Charley and Benny and
all your gangster friends
will come like flies to honey…

        MEYER
I’ll control the franchises.
I’ll decide who’s in or out.

        ANNE
Can you think of your children
for once? Where will Paul and
Sandra go to school? Where
will we find doctors for
Buddy?

        MEYER
We’re an hour plane ride
away from Miami, Annie.
There’s a big American
colony here with good
schools…

        ANNE
They won’t accept the
children of a notorious
criminal. When the police
find out they’ll hound us
and persecute us until we
have to run away.

        MEYER
Not from Cuba. We’ll be
safe here. We’ll be happy.

        ANNE
(with a mournful look)
Oy Meyer, this is the life
you gave me. Always running.
It’s too late for happy. And
safe we’ll never be…

INT. DA’S OFFICE.DAY

A line of YOUNG LAWYERS waits to be interviewed.

INT. TOM’S OFFICE. DAY

MONTAGE…Tom interviews young lawyers. First: MURRAY GURFEIN, an earnest young man from Brooklyn.

        GURFEIN
First, I have to tell you,
sir, I’m a lifelong Democrat.

        TOM
Most New Yorkers are, Mr.
Gurfein. More to the point:
Why are you willing to work
twenty hours a day seven
days for week for one tenth
what you could make on Wall
Street?

        GURFEIN
I hate those hoods. I hate
the way they strut around
my neighborhood showing
their money off. Everybody’s
scared of them and in America
that shouldn’t be.

Next: BURTON TURKUS, young, idealistic, intense.

        TURKUS
I’ve been an Assistant District
Attorney for three years and I
can tell you how rotten the
system is. You can’t try a case.
Everyone thinks you’re for sale.

        TOM
Don’t you feel any loyalty
for your former colleagues,
Mr. Turkus?

        TURKUS
Not after what they’ve done
to the profession.

VICTOR HURWITZ, a cocky street kid

        HURWITZ
I have the experience, I
have the energy and I’m
just about the best
investigator you can find.
And frankly, I see big career
possibilities in this job.

        TOM
You’re an arrogant sonofabitch,
Mr. Hurwitz, but then again so
am I. And I have to admit I also
see the possibilities…If we
succeed.

EUNICE CARTER, an intense young black woman

        CARTER
I know every numbers runner
in every poolroom on Harlem.
I’ve had seven years in
Woman’s Court working with
con artists and hustlers.
Nobody can fool me..

        TOM
You realize you’ll be the
only female and the Negro
on our staff.

        CARTER
I’m used to being lonely.

EXT. GOLF COURSE. DAY

A sparkling, sunny morning. Charley, in yellow and black golf clothes, tees off and watches his ball with satisfaction. His companions, JIMMY HINES and WALTER CHRYSLER, squat, bespectacled with a shrewd look, applaud.

        HINES
Great shot, Charley.

        CHRYSLER
Looks like I’m going to
lose my bet.

        CHARLEY
I’m bettin’ you come out
a winner today, Mr. Chrysler.

        CHRYSLER
(as they walk down the fairway)
I hope so. As I was saying:
I’m putting up a big building,
giving work to thousands of
people. You’d think the unions
would be grateful, but they’ve
increased crew size and now
they want time and a half for
overtime.

        HINES
These bums should get on
their knees and thank Mr.
Chrysler for givin’ em jobs..

        CHARLEY
Workin’ guys don’t think
past their stomachs. Don’t
worry about crews or overtime.
You tell me how many floors
you’re puttin’ up, I’ll give
you a price per floor.

        CHRYSLER
And what’s your price,
Charley?

        CHARLEY
I don’t want nothin’. I’m
just happy to grease the
wheels.

        CHRYSLER
Just one more question.
Our arrangements are so
informal. What will happen
if you have a…problem?

        CHARLEY
What kind of problem?

        CHRYSLER
Well, it seems that there
a lot of people who want
to put you out of business.
Thomas Dewey for one…

        CHARLEY
Lemme ask you a question, Mr.
Chrysler. Say you’re sick and
layin’ in the hospital, who
runs your company?

        CHRYSLER
I do. Until the day I die.

        CHARLEY
Same with me.  They can
throw me in a deep, dark
dungeon, I’m still the
boss and nothin’ gets
done without my say so.
That’s how my organization
works.

INT.CORRIDOR. DAY.

Tom gives his new staff a tour of their headquarters..

        TOM
We operate in complete
secrecy. There’s a guard
on the floor twenty four
hours a day. Nobody, not
even the cleaning woman,
gets in without a pass.

SUB BASEMENT…Tom walks his staff through a jungle of pipes and boilers to a steel door.

        TOM
This door leads to a stairway
that connects to the subway
tunnel across the street.
It’s a secret entrance for
your informers and witnesses.

IN THE OFFICE…Tom opens a cast iron safe.

        TOM
All work documents must be
locked in this safe at the
end of the day. Remember.
There are certain powerful
interests in this city that
want us to fail. Consider
everyone your enemy until
they win your trust. Stay
out of nightclubs. When
speaking in public use code
names for your associates,
especially me.

        CARTER
We’ll call you chief. How’s
that?

        TOM
(with a smile)
Chief…Got a nice ring to
it…

EXT. DESERT. DAY.

Desolation as far as the eye can see. A ROAD SIGN reads, WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS miles. Benny and Meyer stand in the broiling sun.

        BENNY
I drove through here three
times before I knew what I
was lookin’ at.

        MEYER
Too hot, Benny.

        BENNY
It’s the desert. You freeze
your ass off at night.

        MEYER
We’ll have to pipe in water.
Pipe in customers, too.

        BENNY
It’s the Promised Land, Meyer.
This is where we’re gonna
build our temple…

INT. RESTAURANT. DAY

At a corner table Abe Landau watches intently as Tom has a quick lunch with an anxious Medailie.

        TOM
They couldn’t convict Dutch
Schulz last time because
they didn’t have enough
hard information. That
won’t happen again.
(takes a chart out of his
brief case)
My staff has worked up an
organizational pyramid on
Schulz, who works for him
and where they do business.
We’re going to cover each of
these men, tap their phones,
bug their private hideaways.

        MEDAILIE
You’ll need warrants.

        TOM
Too risky. If one of the
judges is crooked he’ll
leak it to Schulz…

        MEDAILIE
But if the taps aren’t
legal they’ won’t be
admissible.

        TOM
We’re not going to use
them in court. We’re
going to use them to
blackmail people into
informing and testifying.

        MEDAILIE
That’s against the law, Tom.

        TOM
We’re in a war, George,
outnumbered by hostile
forces. If we stick to
the letter of the law
we’ll never get these
guys. We have to win
this any way we can.

INT. CHARLEY’S OFFICE. NIGHT.

Benny and Meyer are trying to sell the idea of Vegas to Charley, Dutch Schulz and Frank Costello

        BENNY
Cows can’t eat it and you
can’t plant oranges on it,
but it’s the best real
estate deal in the world.

        SCHULZ
Whaddya gonna do, open a
cactus factory?

        CHARLEY
We backed you in California,
Ben. That market’s still not
payin’ off.

        MEYER
It will. Between the wire
service and the crap games
we’re already clearin’ forty
G’s a week in LA.

        BENNY
And that ain’t a spit in
the ocean compared to what
we can do in Vegas.

        COSTELLO
Vegas is a buncha cowboys
playin’ penny slots, Benny.

        BENNY
Not when I get done with
it. There’s this Hollywood
guy Wilkerson, opened a
joint called the Flamingo.
I took it off him. It’s
ours now. A million bucks
buildsus the biggest, most
luxurious hotel in the world.

        MEYER
Benny sees something here,
Charley Let’s give him a
chance.

        CHARLEY
Why take money you make
one place and piss it away
someplace else?

        MEYER
It’s an investment. It’ll
get us outta New York, one
step ahead of Dewey and his
lynch mob.

        SCHULZ
You scared of Dewey, Meyer?
(takes out a wad of CASH)
Tellya what, I’ll buy you
out of all your interests
in New York. You can build
your castle in the sand, I’m
stayin’ right here. No hayseed
shyster’s gonna chase me out.

MONTAGE…NEWSREEL…

Schulz, Abe Landau and CRONIES, surrounded by SHOWGIRLS, pop champagne at a lavish nightclub.

        NEWSCASTER
Mob boss Dutch Schulz rings
in the New Year at the famous
New York nitery Chez Paree.
‘34 was a good year for the
Dutchman, but if Tom Dewey
has his way, 35’ll be a bust.

TOM’S OFFICE

HYMAN GROSS, a frightened restaurateur, is telling his story as Tom’s staff watches, sympathetically.

        GROSS
A hundred thousand dollars
I put into that restaurant
and then Schulz’s thugs told
me to get out, he was taking
over.
(sobs)
They beat up my chef, threw
stink bombs down my chimney.
Insurance wouldn’t pay my claim.
They ruined me…

        TOM
(gently)
You realize that if you
testify your life might
be in danger…

        GROSS
What life? I don’t have a
life anymore.

NIGHT CLUB

A REPORTER intrudes on Schulz’s riotous party.

        REPORTER
Hey Dutch, see the morning
paper? Dewey’s says he’s
gonna indict you.

        SCHULZ
(drunken doggerel)
Who’s Dewey?/Just a lotta
hooey…His cronies laugh
and repeat “a lotta hooey…”

        SCHULZ
Dewey’s a hoodoo/Phooey on
Tom Dewey….

They laugh uproariously as if it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard.

TOM’S OFFICE

SIDNEY GOTTESMAN, a union organizer, a bloody bandage on his head, trembling with rage.

        GOTTESMAN
They threw me down the stairs.
Said ‘you don’t run the union
no more. Dutch Schulz’ll take
care of the waiters from now
on.

        TOM
Mr. Gottesman, I feel obliged
to tell you that our wiretaps
have picked up Schulz
threatening your life.

        GOTTESMAN
I don’t care what happens to
me. I just wanna put that bum
in jail.

PRESS CONFERENCE… Tom faces the press, his staff behind him.

        TOM
For months lawyers and
agents under my command
have worked tirelessly to
bring a racketeering
indictment against Dutch
Schulz. We have subpoenaed
three thousand witnesses,
gone over hours of wire-
tapping and surveillance
evidence. Many brave
citizens have come forward
at great personal risk to
testify. I have requested
the empaneling of a separate
Grand Jury. I make this
promise to you New York: I
will bring Dutch Schulz to
justice.

INT. CHARLEY’S PENTHOUSE. NIGHT

DANCE MUSIC  purrs softly on the radio. Charley lies on the couch with his head in Nancy’s lap. She tousles his hair, bored to distraction.

        CHARLEY
We could be anybody right
now. A nice married couple
enjoyin’ a quiet evening at
home…

        NANCY
Can’t we go out for once?

        CHARLEY
What for, we got everything
here. You wanna eat, you
wanna drink? You want a show?
I’ll call Al Jolson to sing
you a lullaby.

        NANCY
You take that chorus girl
out all the time…

The DOORBELL RINGS. Nancy gets up to answer it.

        NANCY
You just don’t want nobody
to see you with your hopped
up girlfriend…

She opens the door on Dutch Schulz, Landau lurking behind him.

        SCHULZ
Hiya gorgeous…

Charley jumps up, coldly angry.

        CHARLEY
I thought they closed the
Bronx zoo for the night.
(to Nancy)
Baby, do me a favor…

        NANCY
(walking out)
Yeah, I know, go in the
bathroom and run the water…

Charley waits until she’s gone, then turns on Schulz.

        CHARLEY
What are you nuts, comin’
here?

        SCHULZ
It’s the only place I can
go these days that ain’t
bugged. I hear Dewey’s gonna
spring a tax rap on me.

        CHARLEY
I told ya a million times.
You gotta have somethin’
legit. You show income,
you throw Uncle Sam a
coupla bucks…

        SCHULZ
I can’t operate, Charley.
He’s got all my phones tapped.
He’s backtrackin’ my joints,
gettin’ an earful from every
crum with a grudge.

        CHARLEY
Whaddya cryin’? You been
dodgin’ cops all your life.

        SCHULZ
Not like this guy. He’s
nuts and he’s got all the
yokels on his side.
(lowers his voice)
I been casin’ him, Charley.
Goes to the same drugstore
for coffee same time every
day. One guy with a silencer
and our troubles are over.

        CHARLEY
You know the rule about
killin’ cops.

        SCHULZ
That’s cause it’s always
been live and let live.
But this guy’s on a holy
war. Look, I’ll take care
of it. You tell the boys
it’s that crazy Dutchman,
you can’t control him.

        CHARLEY
Leave Dewey alone, Dutch.

Schulz’s expression closes and gets cunning.

        SCHULZ
Okay Charley, if you say so.

        CHARLEY
Do what I say. Don’t backdoor
me.

        SCHULZ
Would I do that? I get a
little antsy sometimes,
but I always play ball,
you know me.

        CHARLEY
(not buying it)
To know you is to love you,
kid…

INT. DUCORE’S DRUGSTORE. NIGHT.

A DELIVERY BOY walks up to Charley Workman.

        DELIVERY BOY
Lindy’s delivery…

INT. CHARLEY’S OFFICE.NIGHT.

Smokefilled, tense. Charley is at his desk, Meyer pacing as the Delivery Boy enters.

        CHARLEY
On the desk, kid.

Charley sticks a bill in his pocket and looks in the box.

        CHARLEY
You want cheesecake or danish?

        MEYER
Danish…This is a big move,
Charley. The Dutchman’s nuts,
but we’ve always done business
with him.

        CHARLEY
He’s old fashioned. Got a
problem dump it in the river…

        MEYER
He’s your cover. As long
as they’re gettin’ headlines
with him they’ll leave us
alone. If he’s eliminated
you’re gonna stand out like
the Emperor who just lost his clothes.

        CHARLEY
If we let him hit Dewey
we’ll be back on Page One
as mad dog killers. The
politicians will drop us
and the cops’ll shut us
down for good.

        MEYER
He says he won’t touch him.

        CHARLEY
I gotta think of the
Organization. We built
this thing and now we
got two guys tryin’ to
tear it down—Dutch and
Dewey. And I don’t know
which one’s worse.

INT. DRUGSTORE.DAY

The next day. Tom enters and is greeted by the CUSTOMERS. “Hiya Mr. Dewey…” “You’re doin’ great work, Mr. Dewey….” A man with his collar up and his hat over his eyes walks in as Tom goes to the counter. The
COUNTERMAN lays a cup of coffee down in front of Tom.

        COUNTERMAN
Did you hear Winchell on
Dewey? He gave you a new
nickname, Gangbuster…Tom
Gangbuster Dewey…

        TOM
Gangbuster…Got a nice
ring to it…

The man with his collar up walks to the end of the counter and turns. It is Abe Landau. He puts his hand
in his pocket and moves toward Tom. But suddenly a
CUSTOMER steps in front of him.

        CUSTOMER
Hey Mr. Dewey, maybe you
can help me. The Dutchman’s
shylocks have been hitting
me for three hundred a week…

         TOM
Give me a couple of months
and they’ll never bother
you again.

A SECOND CUSTOMER elbows Landau aside.

         SECOND CUSTOMER
All well and good, Mr. Dewey,
but you know sometimes a
loanshark is the only guy
who’ll give you credit.

         TOM
You’re right, that’s a
real problem. And we’ll
have to address it.

Other CUSTOMERS come over to join the discussion.
LANDAU is thwarted. He steps away from the group,
pulls his collar up even higher and walks out of the
drugstore.

AT THE MAGAZINE RACK

A man turns to watch him go. It is CHARLEY WORKMAN.

END PART III

Next: PART IV

In a new department the Daily Event will reoffer some of these scripts. Read them and decide: would you like to have seen this movie?

Our first script is EMPIRES OF CRIME. Seven years in development it is a six part mini-series commissioned by a broadcast network and later reacquired by a cable station.

The story is about the founders of Organized Crime, Meyer Lansky, and “Lucky” Luciano, their fifty year partnership and the empire they created. Their friendships and families, lives and loves. It is also about their implacable enemy Thomas Dewey, a young Republican attorney who built a political career prosecuting the Mob that propelled him to the NY Governor’s Mansion and almost to the White House.

*For Introduction with submission guidelines go to Oct 13. Use Contact Us, above, for submissions.

 

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