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Movie You Will Never See/Empires of Crime/Part 25

*For Introduction with submission guidelines go to Oct 13

For easy access to the beginning of the script and older excerpts go to the homepage.

*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

HOUR V

ACT ONE

NOVEMBER 1941

NEWSREEL…Tom and Francis and their two young sons wave to cheering crowds outside their house as:

         NEWSCASTER
From gangbuster to Governor?
Tom Dewey, New York’s crusading
District Attorney announced his
candidacy as Governor of New
York last night, promising big
changes for the Empire State…

NEWSREEL…Charley leaves the courthouse in a phalanx of COPS , hands cuffed in front of him and is escorted into a paddy wagon.

        NEWSCASTER
Meanwhile, the man he brought
down, Lucky Luciano, has gone
from kingpin to convict.

CLINTION PENITENTIARY… A graystone Victorian prison rising out of a dismal moor in upstate New York.

His multi million dollar empire in shambles, Luciano has moved from his luxury suite in the Waldorf to a drafty cell at Clinton Penitentiary far from the white lights Broadway where he will spend the next fifty years, alone, powerless and forgotten…

EXT. PRISON YARD. DAY

DOLLY DOWN a long line of INMATES shivering in the afternoon gloom to a PRISON GUARD, hat in hand in front of a table where Charley, pale and emaciated from years in prison, is holding court.

        GUARD
My son in law was workin’
at the Fulton Fish market
and they fired him for
bein’ drunk. I told my
daughter the guy was a
bum…

        CHARLEY
Kids today don’t listen.
(scribbles a note)
Tell the bum to give this
to Socks Lanza. He’ll put
him to work.

        GUARD
I really appreciate this,
Charley. If there’s anything
I can do…

        CHARLEY
Send Lana Turner to clean
up my cell. Who’s next on
the bread line?

A BLACK INMATE steps forward. Nervous, respectful.

        INMATE
Jimmy Seymour from one
seventeenth and Eighth, Mr.
Luciano. See, I got pinched
and had to leave my wife
runnin’ the numbers bank and…

        CHARLEY
And everybody’s shakin’ her
down, right Jimmy?
(writing)
Tell Mrs. Jimmy to get ten
nice crisp C notes and go
to a joint called Punchie’s
on One nineteenth and Convent.
Ask for Patsy Fasano.
(hands him a note)
Give him this note with the
money wrapped inside and
you’ll be okay.

        INMATE
(clasps his hand)
I owe you my life, Mr.
Luciano.

        CHARLEY
This ain’t a favor, pal.
You got a new partner.
(looks up with a smile)
Now what’s your problem,
bud?

It’s MEYER, tanned and dapper in a cashmere overcoat. Behind him are THREE PRISON GUARDS laden with packages.

         MEYER
I got fifty pounds of hot
corned beef. Wanna buy it
real cheap?

INT.VISITING ROOM. DAY.

So cold you can see your breath. Barred windows, gray walls. Charley happy as a kid at Christmas, is opening the packages, Meyer has brought. He takes out a thick woolen blanket.

        CHARLEY
This is just what the doctor
ordered.

Then opens a box packed with SALAMI, BREAD, WINE, etc.

        CHARLEY
Okay voy mangiare. Now if
I only had a little female
companionship.

        MEYER
Done. I got the nod from
the warden.

        CHARLEY
Can I have my little Olga?

        MEYER
It’s gotta be a local girl…

        CHARLEY
Some hick broad…No offense,
Meyer, but don’t pick her
yourself…

        MEYER
No offense…Dewey’s runnin’
for President. I slipped
Johnny Crews, the Republican
boss of Brooklyn ninety grand
for his campaign.

        CHARLEY
(eating)
The guy frames me and we
stake him?

        MEYER
Somebody’ll slide a parole
application across his desk
one of these days. Crews
says he’ll sign it.

        CHARLEY
Jimmy Hines said Roosevelt
wouldn’t repeal Prohibition.

        MEYER
We gotta go through the
motions. This Edgar Hoover
who runs the FBI, he’s a
big horse player.

        CHARLEY
Givin’ him winners?

        MEYER
Yeah. He likes the action
at Hialeah. We make every
race there, so we slip him
the double so he’s a big
handicapper in front of
his friends. Maybe he’ll
look the other way when
our names come up.

        CHARLEY
What are the odds?

        MEYER
We gotta try everything.
Lepke’s on the run from a
Federal drug rap. Albert is
protectin’ him, movin’ him
from place to place in
Brooklyn every night.
Dewey’s shuttin’ everyone
down like they did with you.

        CHARLEY
Tell Albert Lepke’s gotta
give up. Business comes
first, that’s the rule.
(gorging himself)
I’m gonna get agita from all
this salami…

        MEYER
Vito’s in Havana.

        CHARLEY
What’d he do now?

        MEYER
He wrapped a chain around a
guy’s neck and choked him to
death in front of six witnesses.

        CHARLEY
Vito never had no class.

        MEYER
I don’t want Cuba to get a
reputation as a hideout for
American mobsters, Charley.

        CHARLEY
Give him fifty G’s and put
him on a slow boat to Naples.
Tell him I said to go.

        MEYER
(hesitates, then:)
Annie left me, Charley.

        CHARLEY
(shrugs it off)
So? She don’t know nothin’,
right?

        MEYER
She turned the kids against
me. All the things I did for
her, Beautiful apartment in
Forest Hills, charge accounts
at every store…

        CHARLEY
Whaddya expect? You only
married her for her old
man’s molasses business.
If a broad knows you love
her she don’t care about
money.

        MEYER
You’re goin’ stir crazy if
you believe that.

        CHARLEY
Guys like us, we don’t give
nothin’ to nobody. Everything’s
a deal or a stickup if we
can get away with it. Look
how I treated Nancy. Never
took her out ‘cause I was
ashamed to be seen with a
hooker. Never gave her nothin’,
but a coupla bucks here and
there. I thought she loved me.
I couldn’t believe it when
she rolled over for Dewey.
But I don’t hold it against
her. It’s them other people.
How many crums did I let off
the hook?. Who was the biggest
tipper, the softest touch?
Then they had to go and get
righteous on me…

        MEYER
You’re thinkin’ too much in
here.

        CHARLEY
(bitter)
What else do I have to do?
You were right. I got too
big and they slapped me
down. They didn’t want a
greaseball gettin’ his
name in the columns. Givin’
parties at the Waldorf,
goin’ around with the smart
set…They’ll let you have
the dirty money, but you
gotta stay in your rat hole…

        MEYER
You’re scarin’ me,Charley.
You turn into a jailbird and
start mumblin’ about the old
days, the word’ll get out.
The vultures’ll pick us clean.

        CHARLEY
I ain’t gettin’ religion,
kid, don’t worry. I’m runnin’
things like I always did.
Only now I’ll show no mercy..

INT. STATE HOUSE.

The rotunda is jammed as Republicans celebrate Tom’s inauguration as Governor of New York. A BANNER urges DEWEY FOR GOVERNOR. On the dais with Florence at his side, Tom is dueling with the press.

        TOM
We will build the greatest
highway network in this
country without raising a
penny in taxes. We will
create a state university
system that will offer a
college degree to all our
citizens…We will build
bridges and parks, expand
public services

        CYNICAL REPORTER
Where you gonna find the
money?

        TOM
By cutting bureaucratic
waste and corruption…I
know how the cynics will
react. They were the same
ones who said I couldn’t
beat the Mob in New York.
Well, I took on Luciano when
everyone said I didn’t have
a chance.

        CYNICAL REPORTER
And now you’re gonna ride
that gangbuster pony right
to the Governor’s Mansion.

        TOM
I’m more than a gangbuster.
And I’m going to prove it.

EXT. HAVANA WAREHOUSE. DAY

WORKERS roll barrels to a PAINTER who slaps WHITE PAINT over the word RUM and paints MOLASSES in its place. PAN TO Meyer and FULGENCIO BATISTA, now a general, in an ornate uniform loaded with medals and ribbons.

        BATISTA
This rum is so bad not even
the peons will drink it.

        MEYER
We’ll mix it with corn
liquor, call it Kentucky
Bourbon and the suckers’ll
pay premium prices…

        BATTISTA
(laughs)
Always looking for new ways
to cheat the… suckers.

        MEYER
Brokers sell ‘em bogus stocks,
Ford sells ‘em cars that break
down, the Pope sells ‘em life
ever after. At least we give
‘em a good time…

INT. HAVANA NIGHTCLUB. NIGHT.

On the dance floor, COUPLES whirl to a SALSA CONJUNTO. IN THE SHADOWS Meyer is arguing with Vito Genovese.

        GENOVESE
I’m okay here. I paid
everybody off.

        MEYER
Charley paid everybody off
in Arkansas, too, Vito.

        GENOVESE
This is a foreign country.

        MEYER
In name only. It’s ninety
miles from Miami, who do you
think runs it? Dewey finds
out you’re here he’ll put a
lotta heat on our friends to
send you back.

        GENOVESE
That’s what it is. You’re
protectin’ your own interests
here.

        MEYER
Yours too. We can own every
inch of this island. Sugar,
rum, hotels, the biggest
casinos you ever saw. But we
gotta keep it clean.
(offers an envelope)
Fifty G’s makes you the King
of Naples.

        GENOVESE
(pushes the envelope away)
And what if I don’t go?

        MEYER
This ain’t Mulberry Street,
Vito. My money does the
talkin’ here.

Genovese looks over Meyer’s shoulder and sees

TWO CUBAN OFFICERS moving in behind him. He takes the envelope with a vengeful look.

        GENOVESE
I won’t forget this, Meyer.

        MEYER
You’ll thank me one of these
days.

INT. PRIVATE ROOM. NIGHT On a small stage,

PERFORMERS are doing a suggestive dance. AT A TABLE Batista and his officers are watching, transfixed. But Meyer is in a corner talking business to two CUBAN GRANDEES.

        MEYER
You’re so close to the big
money in the US you can touch
it, but you got one rusty
banana boat that goes to the
mainland every three days.

        GRANDEE
What can we do?

        MEYER
Get a ferry service from
here to Miami and New Orleans
every day. Start an airline.
Back and forth two, three
times a day. You need a
silent partner you got one…

Batista comes to the table, laughing, his arm around RAQUEL, one of the dancers, a dark Cuban beauty

        BATISTA
Meyer, in Cuba we do business
so we can enjoy ourselves.

        MEYER
In New York we do business
so we can do more business.

        BATISTA
Raquel wants to meet el
famoso Senor Lansky…

RAQUEL smiles invitingly, but Meyer turns away, shyly.

        MEYER
This isn’t necessary…

        BATISTA
Why don’t you show her that
trick with the dice, Meyer?

Before Meyer can demur Raquel presses a pair of dice into his palm with a flirtatious look.

        RAQUEL
Here, Senor Meyer. Show
me…

Meyer closes his fist and shakes his hand. When he opens it the dice have disappeared. Raquel claps, delightedly.

        RAQUEL
Que bueno, que magico.
Donde estan? Where are
they?

Encouraged, Meyer reaches behind her ear.

        MEYER
In a better place…

And produces the dice to applause and amused shouts of “Bravo.”Raquel takes his arm and whispers in his ear.

        MEYER
Sure I want to.


Captivated, he lets her lead him away.

        MEYER
You’re a really attractive
girl. In the US you’d be a
big movie star…

DECEMBER 7, 1941

INT. HAVANA HOTEL ROOM. DAY

Early morning. The sun burns through the shutters. In his shorts, cigarette dangling, totally relaxed, Meyer opens the shutters and looks out at the palm lined boulevard, the Gulf of Mexico glittering in the background.

        MEYER
Look at them palm trees. This
place makes Miami look like
Newark…

Raquel comes up behind him with a demi tasse.

        RAQUEL
Quieres cafe, Meyer?

        MEYER
Seguro, doll.

There is a knock. Batista enters and calls from the alcove

        BATISTA
Meyer, I have news…

        MEYER
C’mon in, amigo. See I’m
workin’ on my Spanish
(expansive)
What a country you got here.
Does Cuba mean gold mine
‘cause that’s what this is…
Take a good look at that
empty beach, Generalissimo.
This time next year there’s
gonna be a hotel every five
hundred yards.

        BATISTA
Not next year, my friend.

He shows him the Havana newspaper. One bold, black word screams: ATTAQUE…

        BATISTA
The Japanese have attacked
the US Naval base in Pearl
Harbor.

INT.VISITING ROOM. DAY

Charley is entertaining the GUARDS with a big spread of food and booze. Newspapers on the table proclaim:JAPANESE ATTACK PEARL HARBOR, US DECLARES WAR.

        GUARD
This is good, Charley, what
is it?

        CHARLEY
It’s called lox, where you
been?
(hands him a bagel)
Put it on this with some
cream cheese. It’s called
a bagel.
(stuffs money in his pocket)
Buy me a radio willya kid.
I wanna follow the war news.

        GUARD
The warden won’t like that.

        CHARLEY
(stuffs more bills)
So buy him one, too.

        ANOTHER GUARD
(slams down the paper)
I can’t believe these Japs
think they can beat us.

        CHARLEY
Some guys you just gotta
kill.

MONTAGE…NEWSREELS…FDR appears before Congress. “Today, December, 7. 1941, a day that will live in infamy…YOUNG MEN line up for the draft,,,YOUNG WOMEN work the night shift in factories…MOVIE STARS go on BOND DRIVES…TROOPS SHIP OUT…HEADLINES…The news is bad. SINGAPORE CAPTURED BY JAPANESE NEW YORK HARBOR…The liner Normandy,lists on its side, burning out of control. A NEWSCASTER asks:

        NEWSCASTER
Was this an accident or was
she the victim of Nazi
sabotage?

EXT. DOCKS. DAY.

Dawn…LONGSHOREMEN “shape up” for the day’s work. Lines of men shamble onto the pier under the vigilant eyes of the CHECKERS, The checkers move in and push some men off the line. “You ain’t in the union, get outta here.”

A US NAVY SEDAN is parked outside the pier. Leaning against the hood, LIEUTENANT COMMANDER C.RADCLIFFE, HAFFENDEN, a strongly built red haired man in his thirties, watches angrily as the men show ID..”Naval Intelligence…”, but the Checkers chase them off.

        CHECKER
I don’t care if you’re an
Admiral. Only union men get
on this dock.

EXT. EDEN ROC HOTEL (STOCK). DAY.

Miami’s most elegant hotel, an Art Deco masterpiece right on the beach.

EXT. SWIMMING POOL. DAY.

BUDDY LANSKY, ten years old and frail with braces around his legs, dangles his feet in the water as RICHARD SCHWARTZ, twelve and a bit of a bully swims around him.

        BUDDY
My dad never killed anybody…

        RICHARD
C’mon, everybody in Florida
knows who Meyer Lansky is.

On a POOL CHAIR Meyer is on the phone, listening to the news on a portable radio…

        NEWSCASTER
The liner Normandie was
destroyed by a saboteur’s
bomb last night in its
mooring in New York harbor…

        MEYER
Ben Siegel, yes, Mr. Ben
Siegel…

TEDDY SCHWARTZ, an eye catching ex showgirl walks by in a one piece bathing suit as:

        NEWSCASTER
The bombers managed to elude
the Coast Guard Patrols and
plant their explosive in the
Normandie’s hull early this
morning…

        MEYER
This is definitely his number,
Operator…

        TEDDY
It’s three hours earlier in
L.A. My guess is he just got
in from one of those wild
Hollywood parties and turned
the phone off so he could get
some sleep.

        LANSKY
(turns warily)
How do you know who I’m
calling?

        TEDDY
How many Ben Siegels would
Meyer Lansky be calling?
This Miami sun is strong…
(offers a bottle of tanning
lotion)
Better use some of this.

        MEYER
Will it give me a color like
your’s uh, Mrs…

Teddy smiles and watches him rub the lotion on his legs.

        TEDDY
Teddy Schwartz. And I’m a
widow. That’s my Richard
talking to your son. Want
me to do your back?

        MEYER
Not gonna icepick me are
you?

She slowly, caressingly applies lotion to his back.

        TEDDY
Not if you’re a good boy…

EXT. DOCKS. DAY.

Haffenden watches a LONG BLACK LIMOUSINE pull up. A DRIVER hustles out and opens the door for Albert Anastasia and SOCKS LANZA, a dark compact man in a white vicuna overcoat. With a dismissive look at Haffenden they walk into a construction shack. Flushing angrily at the slight, Haffenden overtakes them.

        HAFFENDEN
Excuse me, gentlemen. I’m
Lieutenant Commander C.
Radcliffe Haffenden, US
Naval Intelligence, Third
District. I’m in charge of
security on the waterfront..

        ANASTASIA
Cut the speech, pal. Nobody
gets on the docks without a
bona fide union card.

        HAFFENDEN
(pointing to Anastasia)
You’re Mr. Lanza and…

        ANASTASIA
Don’t get cute, you know who
we are.

        HAFFENDEN
Have you noticed, there’s a
war on? We have reports that
Nazi spies are active on the
waterfront. A troop ship was
destroyed by saboteurs last
night.

        LANZA
Maybe somebody was smokin’
in bed…

        HAFFENDEN
I need to secure these docks
immediately. If you don’t
grant me free access I’ll get
a court order.

        ANASTASIA
I’m the only court on the
waterfront, pal. I see one
cop I’ll shut the docks
down so tight nothin’ll move
in or out. Including military
cargo.

        HAFFENDEN
That’s treason!

        ANASTASIA
It’s business.

        LANZA
We got a contract with the
Shipping Association. Nobody
goes nowhere without our okay.

        HAFFENDEN
How do I get that okay?

        ANASTASIA
You’re in Intelligence. You
figure it out.

INT. JOE’S RESTAURANT. NIGHT

The Miami moon glitters off the Gulf. Meyer and Teddy move in in a dreamy foxtrot as spotlights play across the dance floor.

        MEYER
You one of those women who
gets a thrill hangin’ out
with mobsters?

        TEDDY
I don’t know. You’re my
first one.

        MEYER
I’m not one of those big
shots throwin’ money around.
You don’t get no wild weekends
or fur coats or big diamonds
with me.

        TEDDY
I think I gave you the wrong
impression. Truth is, I saw
you walking with your son
today. You looked lonely.

        MEYER
What if I am?

        TEDDY
I’m lonely, too. I thought
maybe we could help each
other. Anyway, I don’t like
to stay up late. And for
your information, I got a
21 carat and a Persian lamb
my late husband, he should
rest in peace, gave me.

         MEYER
Look over my right shoulder.
See those two guys at the
bar?

TWO MEN in plain, official looking suits are trying to blend in.

        MEYER
That’s FBI. Always watching
me since they got big
headlines puttin’ my friends
in jail. They open my mail,
tap my phone. They probably
put a microphone in my baked
potato.

        TEDDY
What do they want from you?

        MEYER
Nothin’ special. Just to
lock me up for the rest
of my life.

        TEDDY
Why are you telling me this?

        MEYER
The life I live destroyed
my marriage. I have a son
and daughter who won’t
speak to me. Any woman I
go around with becomes a
target for these mamsers…

        TEDDY
Here comes one of them…

AN AGENT taps Lansky, politely on the shoulder.

        AGENT
Excuse me, Mr. Lansky. I’m
sorry to disturb your dance…

        MEYER
I don’t have to talk to you
guys.

        AGENT
This isn’t a pinch. We just
need a moment of your time.

        MEYER
(to Teddy) See what I mean?
You better take off before
they get a picture of you.

        TEDDY
I’ll finish my dinner first.

She watches Meyer and the Agent walk away.

INT. JOE’S RESTAURANT. NIGHT.

Hours later and the band is packing up. Meyer walks through the empty restaurant and brightens up when he sees Teddy waiting.

        MEYER
You waited.

        TEDDY
I didn’t want to get stuck
with the check.

        MEYER
I guess my steak got cold.

        TEDDY
It’ll make a good sandwich.

        MEYER
I have to go back to New
York.

        TEDDY
You arrested?

        LANSKY
No. I think I’m drafted.

END ACT ONE


Next:Part 26/Act 2: Operation Underworld

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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