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MOVIES YOU WILL NEVER SEE/Empires of Crime/Part 4

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

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

EMPIRES OF CRIME/Part 4

By

Heywood Gould

Act 1 (cont)


INT. MAIER’S KITCHEN. DAY

YETTA, Maier’s mother, pinched and bitter, is looking anxiously out of the window. His father MAX, sallow and bent with a tubercular cough is poring over the Yiddish newspaper, while his younger brother JAKE struggles with his homework.

         YETTA
He’s comin’.

         MAX
So’s the messiah…

INT. TENEMENT STAIRWAY. DAY.

Maier opens the door and runs anxiously up the stairs. People pass him on the way down. SHOPGIRLS, RELIGIOUS STUDENTS, WORKING MEN. RABINOWITZ, the young activist, loaded with books, stops him.

         RABINOWITZ
Hey, Meyer, come to the
meeting. We’re gonna get
the union into Weinberg’s
bakery. Get the workers a
fair shake.

         MAIER
Watch out Weinberg don’t
bust your head.

He reaches under the landing to where he has hidden his schoolbooks. Then with a nervous breath he opens the door.

INT. MAIER’S KITCHEN. DAY

Maier enters with his books.

         MAIER
Hey…

         MAX
Hey is for horses. Where
were you all night?

         MAIER
I was studyin’ with Cousin
Asher. We fell asleep in the
kitchen…

Yetta leaps at him. Pinches his cheek..

         YETTA
Liar! I went over there.
They hadn’t seen you…

         MAIER
Ow ow! Okay…I was at
the fruit market. A man
needed help unloading.
He gave me two bucks.

Yetta twists his ear, forcing him to his knees.

         YETTA
Look at me. A good boy
with an honest job can
look his mama in the
eye…

         MAIER
Okay, okay. I was in
a crap game.

         YETTA
(scandalized)
Oy, Max what are we
gonna do with him?

         MAX
The dice are crooked.
You think the gangsters
play so you can win?

         MAIER
I know, Pop, but I
beat them at their
own game. Here…

He takes a handful of bills out of his pocket and offers them to his mother. She gapes at the money in amazement.

         MAIER
Here Ma, buy yourself
winter coat.

         YETTA
It’s schmutzikeh gelt,
dirty money.

         MAIER
It’s the same money your
boss don’t give you, Mama.
Now you don’t gotta sew
buttons twelve hours a
day, You can stay home
and rest, Papa. Take care
of your cough.
(pushes the money on his father)
Don’t worry Papa, this
is America. The Cossacks
ain’t gonna bust down the
door…

EXT. HUDSON RIVER. NIGHT

On a crumbling pier. A crap game in the eerie glow of FIREPOTS. Maier hangs back and watches as The Young Gambler repeats the same ritual. The flirty girl blows on the dice to the ribald cheers of the other players. Then, he rolls:

         YOUNG GAMBLER
Seven! Who says those dice
are cold?

         MAIER
Hey, I’m down, too. Pay
off.


A handful of crumpled bills is thrown Maier’s way. He tries to slip unnoticed through the crowd. But is suddenly knocked to the ground. Stunned, he sees:

THE YOUNG GAMBLER

standing over him with a pair of BRASS KNUCKLES. TWO BRUISERS move in behind him.

         YOUNG GAMBLER
I’ll teach ya to run a
racket on me, punk.

Maier ducks, spins and takes off. The Young Gambler and his two henchmen give chase.

EXT. CHRISTOPHER STREET. NIGHT.

Maier runs down the narrow street and into an alley. Runs into a stone wall…A dead end… Turns to see the Young Gambler, breathing fiercely.

         YOUNG GAMBLER
Gotcha now, you little…..

Something FLASHES in the darkness. Benny steps into the light, wielding a lead pipe. There is a THUD and the Young Gambler drops to his knees.

SALVATORE

comes out of the shadows, a KNIFE GLITTERING. One henchman screams, holding a bloody gash in his face. The other tries to flee, but Salvatore runs him down and sticks him in the ribs.

MAIER

grabs a garbage can lid sand whacks the Young Gambler in the head. The Young Gambler stumbles. Benny blocks his path. Raising the pipe high,he smashes the Young Gambler, driving him down, flat on his face.

         SALVATORE
Is he dead?

         BENNY
How should I know? I ain’t
a doctor…

Maier tears a GOLD WATCH and CHAIN off the Young Man’s belt. Goes through his pockets and finds a GOLD MONEY CLIP bulging with bills. Salvatore goes for the money, but Meyer holds on.

         SALVATORE
Give it here.

         MAIER
This is my proposition…

          SALVATORE
Okay, but it’s fifty fifty.
You take care of Benny outta
your end.

As they walk away, Maier is counting the money.

         MAIER
Thirty eight bucks…

         SALVATORE
Let’s go eat…

         BENNY
Let’s get a broad.

Behind them one of the henchmen staggers out of the alley, moaning and collapses in the street.

         MAIER
Let’s go someplace and
divvy it up…

EXT. TENEMENT.DAY

Salvatore walks jauntily down the street carrying a large loaf of bread and a bag of groceries. He ducks quickly into a storefront when he sees his father, FRANCESCO LUCANIA, a short wiry working man, come out of the building. PEOPLE greet him: “Buon giorno Signor Lucania…” He tips his cap and walks on. Salvatore jumps out and enters the building.

INT. TENEMENT STAIRWAY. DAY.
Salvatore bounds up the stairs and knocks softly. His mother ROSALIA, pale and careworn opens the door. She lights up at the sight of him.

         ROSALIA
Salvatore…

         SALVATORE
(with a big hug )
Mama…Don’t worry, Papa
didn’t see me.

He steps into a KITCHEN of desperate poverty. A rickety table, a coal stove, an ice box, scraps of food. His little brother BARTOLOMEO jumps up in glee.

         BARTOLOMEO
Salvatore!

His sister GINA runs out:

         GINA
Salvatore!

         ROSALIA
You look so thin, Salvatore…

         SALVATORE
I’m doin’ great, Ma. Got a job
deliverin’ hats on Twenty third.

         ROSALIA
Every night I pray your father
will let you come back…

         SALVATORE
Forget it. Not even God could
get that hard headed Sicilian
to change his mind. Look at this
beautiful prosciutto.

He takes a large BAKED HAM out of the bag. Melon, tomatoes.

         ROSALIA
My God, what am I gonna tell
your father?

         SALVATORE
Tell him the Tammany boys gave
it to you for votin’…

         BARTOLOMEO
Hey Sal, I’m gonna come live
with you…

         SALVATORE
(takes a swipe at him)
You stay in school, stupid.
You wanna be a bum like me?

The door flies open. Francesco enters, clenched, furious.

         ROSALIA
(appeasing)
Francesco, he just came for
a visit. Look what be brought.

         FRANCESCO
Tony, the peddler says you
stuck him up.

         SALVATORE
Why do I wanna take pennies
off that crum? He’s a liar…

         FRANCESCO
You are the liar. You dishonor
this family…

Francesco raises his hand, but Salvatore grabs his wrist.

         ROSALIA
Salvatore!

Salvatore lets go and steps away.

         SALVATORE
This ain’t the old country,
Papa. I don’t have to stand
here and take a beatin’ from
you.
(tries to make up)
C’mon, I know how much you love
a nice prosciutto ham…

         FRANCESCO
I won’t take charity from a
thief.

Francesco grabs the ham and the bread and throws them out of the window. The whole family sags with disappointment.

         SALVATORE
The rats are gonna eat good
tonight, but your kids’ll go
hungry. That what you want?

         FRANCESCO
Get out! You’re not my son no more.
Get outta my house.


Salvatore hugs his mother and Gina.

         SALVATORE
(tousles Bartolomeo’s hair)
Stay in school…


EXT. TENEMENT. DAY
A cold wind is blowing as Salvatore comes out of the house. He shivers and turns for one last look.. Then walks away, pulling up the collar of his skimpy jacket.

END ACT ONE


Next: Act Two/Partners (Wednesday, 11/2/11)

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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