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Movies You Will Never See/Empires of Crime/Part 23

*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 IV

ACT THREE


INT.TOM’S OFFICE. DAY

Polakoff and Tom glare at each other across Tom’s desk.

        POLAKOFF
I have examined your indictment
very carefully, Mr. Dewey, and
it’s clear to me that you’ll
never be able to convict
Charley Luciano on the
testimony of a few pathetic
prostitutes.

        TOM
How many people has Luciano
murdered, Mr. Polakoff?

        POLAKOFF
You’re not charging him
with murder. Frankly, sir,
you’re putting yourself
on the line. If you don’t
get a conviction your
political career is over.

        TOM
Let’s get to the point,
shall we?

        POLAKOFF
Although we are completely
confident of our ability
to defend this ludicrous
charge, your smears have
caused Mr. Luciano and his
family great distress. He
has a mother…

        TOM
We all do.

        POLAKOFF
Mr. Luciano is willing to
liquidate all his legitimate
assets in New York City and
relocate. He promises never
to set foot in the city again.

        TOM
If we withdraw the indictment…

        POLAKOFF
It’s a fair compromise. It
allows you to declare
victory without the risk of
going to trial.

        TOM
You interest me, Mr. Polakoff.
You served with distinction
in the Navy during the late
war. You have a sterling
reputation as a lawyer yet
you serve as a counsel to a
murderer and a drug dealer.

        POLAKOFF
Minorities and undesirables
are as entitled to the
protection of the law as so
called honorable people.

        TOM
Especially when they pay
large legal fees…

        POLAKOFF
I resent that, sir. I came
to you with legitimate offer…

        TOM
I’ll see you in court, sir.

        POLAKOFF
(a parting shot)
Only if you can get Charley
out of Arkansas.

INT.COURTROOM. DAY

Thronged with REPORTERS and NEWSREEL CAMERAS. Tom sits at the prosecution table behind a bank of microphones. Gurfein brings a TELEPHONE to the table.

        GURFEIN
Why are we doing this here,
Chief?

        TOM
Oh I just thought a court-
room would be a better
setting than an office.
(calls over his shoulder)
Mr. Hurwitz, would you mind
sliding that flag over a
bit more. I want to make
sure the newsreel boys have
a good shot of it.

        GURFEIN
He’s on the line, Chief.

        TOM
Hello, is this Governor
Futrell? This is Tom Dewey,
Governor. I’m sitting here
in front of the newsreel
cameras and radio mikes,
with reporters from every
major newspaper. They all
want to know why the
Governor of Arkansas is
sheltering a wanted criminal…
You can’t make back room
deals with the eyes of the
world upon you, Governor…
I’m going to place a call
to President Roosevelt…I
know he’s a Democrat, but
he’s a good American and
the last thing he wants in
this election year is a
prominent member of his party
taking bribes from a notorious
criminal. You have twenty four
hours to put Luciano on a
train to New York or I’ll
smear you over every front
page in the country. I’ll put
a spotlight on your dirty
deals, a stain on your
reputation you’ll never wipe
off.
(slams the phone down)
How was that boys?

INT.HOTEL ROOM.NIGHT

Charley and Gay are awakened by a FLASHLIGHT BEAM. An apologetic SHERIFF stands at the foot of the bed.

        SHERIFF
Sorry, Charley, we gotta send
you back.

INT. PENN STATION. DAY

A HUNDRED COPS, toting rifles are waiting along with a growing complement of REPORTERS, PHOTOGS, NEWSREELS.

CHARLEY

gets off the train, cuffed to two DETECTIVES. He looks at the crowd with a wry smile.

        CHARLEY
Look at all these cops.
Somebody must be givin’
out turkeys.

The Reporters surge forward pleading for a statement. Charley is brought to a bank of microphones.

        CHARLEY
I may not be the most moral
man alive, but I have not
at any time stooped to
aiding prostitution. Nobody
knows better than me how
tough this world is. But
this ain’t right. It ain’t
American.

INT. THE TOMBS. NIGHT.

City prison. Charley paces a dank,gloomy cell. The CAPTAIN of the GUARDS approaches.

        CAPTAIN
Bad news, Mr. Luciano,
Judge McCook turned down
your application for bail.
Says you’re a flight risk.

        CHARLEY
Did Mr. Anastasia talk to
you?

        CAPTAIN
(unlocking the cell)
Yeah. He sent someone to
pinch hit for you..

FRANK MARTORANO, an obsequious young hood, comes out of the gloom and kisses Charley’s hand.

        MARTORANO
Francesco Martorano, Mr.
Luciano. It’s an honor to
serve you…

He steps into the cell as Charley steps out.

        CAPTAIN
You gotta be back by seven
am, Mr. Luciano…

        CHARLEY
(walking down the corridor)
Or I turn into a pumpkin?
Sweet dreams, Frankie…

INT. CHARLEY’S SUITE. NIGHT.

CIGARETTE TIPS glow in the dark. The door opens sending a streak of light onto Meyer and Jimmy Hines, who are waiting in the living room. Charley steps in and closes the door.

        CHARLEY
You guys holdin’ hands in
here?

        MEYER
Polakoff says to keep the
lights off. Dewey’s boys
are watchin’ the place.

        CHARLEY
Did you buy the Judge,
Jimmy?

        HINES
They put McCook on it.He’s
the only judge we don’t own.

        CHARLEY
What happened to the fix?
I thought I was safe in
Arkansas.

        HINES
Dewey reached out to the
President.

        CHARLEY
So what? Roosevelt’s a
Democrat.

        HINES
Dewey put him on the spot
goin’ on the radio and the
newsreels.

        CHARLEY
We backed Roosevelt. Two
hundred G’s ‘cause you told
us he’d rather take money
from the Mob than owe favors
to the big business guys.

        HINES
That’s what his guys told
me.

        CHARLEY
You told us he’d give us a
year before he repealed
Prohibition. But it was
the first thing he done
when he put down the Bible.
Then he made that speech
about gettin’ rid of the
gangster elements that
were terrorizing the cities.
After we got out the vote
that helped him win them
cities.

         HINES
You guys were shootin’ each
other left and right, Charley.
He had to do somethin’.

         MEYER
Don’t worry, Charley. Mo says
no New York jury’ll believe
the riff raff Dewey’s gonna
put on the stand. Meanwhile,
I’m gonna set up somethin’
nice for us in Florida.

        CHARLEY
I ain’t leavin’ New York,
Meyer, I told ya…

        MEYER
Still a stubborn Sicilian,
huh? A friend of yours wants
to talk to you in the bedroom.
Enjoy…We’ll let ourselves
out.

INT. CHARLEY’S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

A romantic setting. The shades are drawn, CANDLES BURN, CHAMPAGNE  is cooling and Gay Orlova is lying in bed, waiting.

         GAY
Surprise…

         CHARLEY
I’ll say.


Kneels by the bed and kisses her hand.

         CHARLEY
You shouldn’t be here, Gay.
You could get in trouble.

         GAY
I came up the back way.
Nobody saw me. C’mon baby,
put on that yellow and
black dressing gown you
look so cute in…

         CHARLEY
I’ll never forget what you
done for me.

         GAY
(reaching for him)
You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

MAY 15, 1936

NEWSREEL…CRIMINAL COURTS BUILDING…Charley walks up the steps waving to the cameras.

        NEWSCASTER
Day One of the Luciano trial
and it’s standing room. But
Lucky has a ringside seat.

POLAKOFF…at the microphones.

        POLAKOFF
My client is the victim of
the narcotized imaginings
of a bunch of deluded
prostitutes.

GAY, glamorous in sable makes a statement.

        GAY
Lucky is a dear and I
don’t believe those
horrible charges. It
doesn’t sound nice, not
like Lucky at all.

INT. COURTROOM. DAY

Charley, in a conservative blue suit, sits at the table with Polakoff as Tom makes his opening statement.

        TOM
To catch a thief you must
use a thief. You will hear
prostitutes, madams, heels
and ex convicts. Liars and
swindlers they may be, but
they are the only ones who
can tell us about Mr.
Luciano’s chain store of
sex…

IN THE COURTROOM

A short time later. Dave Miller, fidgets fearfully under Tom’s examination.

        MILLER
Little Davey Bettilo said
I needed Charley’s okay so
he took me up to the Waldorf.

        TOM
And did Mr. Luciano approve
you?

        MILLER
Yeah. He told me Bettilo
was boss and I’d only hear
from him if things went
wrong.

AT THE DEFENSE TABLE

Charley whispers to Polakoff.

        CHARLEY
I was just doin’ Davey a
favor, keepin’ those pimps
in line.

 

With a reassuring pat on the hand, Polakoff rises.

        POLAKOFF
You’re a pimp, isn’t that
right?

        MILLER
I was in the hosiery line,
but I got caught in the
Depression like everybody
else.

        POLAKOFF
So you started booking girls
to make ends meet.

        MILLER
A lot of these girls bought
nylons from me. They wanted
a manager they could trust.

        POLAKOFF
One of those girls was your
wife, wasn’t she? You
prostituted your own wife.

        MILLER
These were hard times.

        POLAKOFF
You tell me, Mr. Miller.
Would you trust a man who
made a whore out of his
own wife? Would you believe
anything he said?

IN THE COURTROOM

A short time later. JOE BENDIX, a scarred ex con tells his story.

        BENDIX
I’m a two time loser. I
didn’t wanna get pinched
again So I asked Lucky,
could I get a job collectin’
at the cathouses.

        TOM
And what did he say, Mr.
Bendix?

        BENDIX
That he’d get Little Davey
to put me on for forty bucks
a week. He definitely promised
me a job.

AT THE DEFENSE TABLE

Charley whispers to Polakoff.

        CHARLEY
I bought some swag jewelry
off him once. The rest is a
lotta crap.

Polakoff rises to face Bendix with a friendly smile.

        POLAKOFF
Did you ever take that
job, Mr. Bendix?

        BENDIX
No. I got caught stealin’
and they sent me back to
Sing Sing for life.

        POLAKOFF
Which is where you contacted
Mr. Dewey.

        BENDIX
That’s right.

        POLAKOFF
Because you wanted to do
your duty as a patriotic
citizen…

        BENDIX
(defiant)
That’s right.

        POLAKOFF
You’re just a small time
hood, by your own admission.
So how would you know a big
shot like Lucky Luciano?

        BENDIX
Everybody knows Lucky.
Everybody knows he runs
every racket in New York,
clean and dirty. You steal
an apple off a push cart,
you gotta give him half.

        POLAKOFF
Did Mr. Dewey promise you
anything in exchange for
your testimony?

Bendix hesitates.

        POLAKOFF
Are you suddenly struck deaf,
Mr. Bendix?
(louder)
Have you been promised anything
in exchange for your testimony?

Bendix looks over at Tom. He nods bleakly.

         BENDIX
Mr. Dewey said he’d get me
a reduction in sentence…
if Luciano was convicted…

INT.CORRIDOR. DAY

Tom and his staff hurry down the hall, pursued by REPORTERS, shouting questions: “Is your strategy working, Tom?” “Do you think the jury believed your witnesses?” They dash into an office.

INT. OFFICE. DAY

Medailie is pacing impatiently. He jumps at Tom.

        MEDAILIE
This was a very bad beginning,
Tom.

        TOM
We’re building a case, George.

        MEDAILIE
With a man who pimped his
wife and another who admits
he sold his testimony for a
better deal? I’ve got to
admit that even I find it
hard to believe that Luciano
would have anything to do
with such scum..

        TOM
You will after you hear
those poor women testify.

        MEDAILIE
I understand what you’re
doing, Tom. But your
strategy is built on
bribery and coercion…

        TOM
It’s the only strategy we
have. We can’t catch
Luciano with a smoking gun
because he doesn’t do his
own shooting. We’ve got to
create public outrage, show
the world what a monster he
really is. Call it bribery
or coercion but we have to
find a way to make these
people testify.

NEWSREEL

In a dormitory, Tom sits with Nancy and four of her friends.

        NEWSCASTER
Prosecutor Tom Dewey talks
the women who will testify
against Lucky Luciano. Freed
from the grasp of the white
slavers they live together in
a dormitory where they are
being cured of their addiction
and returned to faith and
family…

The wan, woebegone PROSTITUTES tell their story.

        MARY THOMAS
I froze walkin’ the streets
to support my two kids, but
it was better than workin’
in the houses.

        JOAN MARTIN
Little Davey told me I had
to pay three hundred a week.
He said Lucky was behind it.
When I argued he hit me with
a pipe.
(shows a scar on her face)
He gave me this.

        HELEN KELLY
I was makin’ six bucks a
week, waitin’ tables. When
I lost my job. Davey put me
into a house. Said Lucky
took care of the girls. Gave
me my first shot of heroin.
I was bookin’ a coupla hundred
a night and he’d throw me a fin
to get high.

        FLO (COKEY) BROWN
Girls who went to the cops
had their feet and stomachs
burned with cigarettes and
their tongues cut out…It’s
like Mr. Dewey says. We have
to make sure this never happens
to another girl ever again.

INT. COURTROOM. DAY

Flo, pale and trembling from drug withdrawal testifies under Tom’s patient guidance.

        FLO
We were sittin’ around this
Chop Suey joint…

        TOM
Who were you with?

        FLO
Davey and Fat Jenny and…

        TOM
And who..?

        FLO
(takes out a flask)
Can I take a snort to calm
my nerves?

        POLAKOFF
Objection! No one else is
allowed to bring alcohol
into this building…

        TOM
Your honor, Miss Brown needs
this for medicinal purposes.

There is laughter in the gallery. Judge McCook gavels it into silence.

        MCCOOK
Objection overruled on
humanitarian grounds. Go
ahead, Miss Brown.

Flo takes a long pull on the flask and continues in a strong, clear voice.

        FLO
Charley Lucky was there,
too.

AT THE DEFENSE TABLE (CROSSCUT)

Outraged, Charley whispers to Polakoff.

        CHARLEY
I never seen this broad in
my life.

        FLO
Charley was braggin’ in
front of the girls. ‘I’m
gonna organize the cathouses
like the A&P,’ he says.

        TOM
Did Luciano discuss his
other plans?

        FLO
Said the girls had to
produce more. He wanted
the boys to beat ‘em up
or get ’em hooked on drugs.
‘You gotta step on ‘em,’ he
said. ‘Talkin’ won’t do no
good.’

        TOM
Thank you, Miss Brown.

Polakoff rises with sarcastic politeness.

        POLAKOFF
You have a nickname, don’t
you, Miss Brown?

        FLO
People called me Cokey
‘cause I was coked up
most of the time.

        POLAKOFF
When did you become a
prostitute?

        FLO
When I was fifteen. Three
guys, friends of my uncle
put me in a house in Chicago.

        POLAKOFF
Nice family. How soon
after that did you become
addicted to heroin?

        FLO
A day, a year, who knows..

        POLAKOFF
Hopheads don’t have very
good memories, do they
Cokey?

        TOM
Objection. Miss Brown
isn’t a medical expert…

        POLAKOFF
Were you coked up the
night you saw Mr. Luciano?

        FLO
Maybe. I don’t know.

        POLAKOFF
You don’t remember if you
were coked up, but you do
remember every word Mr.
Luciano said.

        FLO
You don’t forget Charley
Luciano. You don’t forget
those eyes lookin’ into you.

The jury looks over at Luciano. To break the tension he puts his hands over his eyes. The courtroom erupts in laughter, the JURORS hiding their smiles behind their hands. The laughter continues in spite of Judge McCook’s pounding gavels and stern requests for “silence.”

AT THE PROSECUTION TABLE

Tom and his team are the only ones not amused. Gurfein and Hurwitz look to Tom for guidance, but he stares grimly as the laughter washes over him.

END ACT THREE


Next: Part 24/Act 4: Dewey Crosses Lucky

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.

 

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