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MOVIES YOU WILL NEVER SEE/Empires of Crime/Part 6

*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 6

By

Heywood Gould


ACT THREE


NEW YORK, 1918

INT. MOVIE THEATER. NIGHT.

ON SCREEN—a NEWSREEL shows AMERICAN TROOPS disembarking from a ship, greeted by CHEERING CROWDS…The AUDIENCE SINGS “OVER THERE” The subtitle reads:”WAR OVER…`100,000 AMERICAN TROOPS COME HOME VICTORIOUS. PAN TO the AUDIENCE where Meyer and Benny watch with their young GIRLFRIENDS… The AUDIENCE is singing the popular WWI tune:

         AUDIENCE
And we won’t give up/’Til
it’s over/Over there…

         BENNY
(singing)
Eighteen bucks a month
them doughboys were
gettin’. Over there…

         MEYER
(sings back)
Eighteen bucks a month.
A hundred thousand guys.
We coulda run some crap


INT. FAT AL’S NIGHT.

A raucous Lower East Side dive, smoke filled, festive, crude. A JAZZ BAND swings. Meyer, Benny and their girls push through the writhing COUPLES on the dance floor to their table.

         BENNY’S GIRL
I never been to a place like
this….

         BENNY
Yeah and you learned how
to smooch from a rabbi…

         MEYER
(to his girl)
Get a drink, doll, I’m gonna
look over the action…


He walks over to a noisy CRAP TABLE.

         CHARLEY
Stick’ em up, pal…


Meyer turns and sees Charley older and harder, but with the same mischievous glint in his eye. He is dressed in the loud colors of a street pimp. There are two cold eyed THUGS standing behind him.

Meyer hugs him, gleefully.

         MEYER
Hey Salvatore.

         CHARLEY
(returning the hug)
Not Salvatore no more. It’s
Charley, Charley Luciano,
Maier.

         MEYER
It’s Meyer Lansky now. I
got sick of people callin’
me the Mayor.

         CHARLEY
Yeah and I learned my lesson
in the can. All these guys
callin’ me Sally like I was a
girl.

         MEYER
I bet you made ‘em sorry.
The two laugh and pound
each other on the back.

         CHARLEY
I missed you guys.

         MEYER
Yeah me too. We don’t know
where to go for the good
spaghetti…

         CHARLEY
You still with that bughouse
shlammer?


Benny runs over, laughing and grabs Charley in a bear hug.

         BENNY
What’d you call me?

         CHARLEY
(fingers Benny’s loud suit)
How many guys you rob to
get those rags?

         BENNY
A broad bought it for me.

MEYER
So, you makin’ money?

         CHARLEY
(flashing a HUGE ROLL)
What do you call this?


Benny pulls out a big WAD of BILLS.

         BENNY
Mine’s bigger.

         CHARLEY
How about you, Meyer?


Meyer takes out a couple of crumpled bills.

         MEYER
I hide my money in my
sister’s drawers…

         BENNY
And if you know his sister
that’s the safest place in
the world…

         CHARLEY
You guys wanna go for corned
beef?

         BENNY
We’ll dump our girls. You
dump yours.


The two thugs move up with menacing glares, but Charley restrains them.

         CHARLEY
This here’s Albert Anastasia
and Vito Genovese.

         MEYER
Hiya boys…Just jokin’.
Seeya at Bernstein’s,
Charley..


As they walk away…

         ANASTASIA
Whaddya wanna hang out with
those Hebes?

         CHARLEY
I was runnin’ with Meyer
before I knew you was
alive. Them guys are my
best friends.


INT. DELICATESSEN. NIGHT

Charley is wolfing down a corned beef sandwich while Benny tells a war story.

         BENNY
So the guy says you gonna
fight me you little shrimp
and Meyer knocks him ass
over tin cup…

         CHARLEY
You gotta have a little
Sicilian in you, Meyer. The
way you drop a guy just for
lookin’ funny at you.

         MEYER
And you gotta have a little
Jew, the way you love that
corned beef. Hey, see that
guy sittin’ with Lepke.


ARNOLD ROTHSTEIN

Mid forties, elegant in a top hat and evening clothes is gobbling deli with Buchalter and Shapiro. He waves over at Meyer.

         MEYER
That’s Arnold Rothstein.
They call him The Brain…
The guy owns every politician
in town.

         CHARLEY
So what’s he doin’ with those
headbusters?

         MEYER
He owns them, too. Sets up all
the labor deals. High class
gamblin’ joints. Does it with
class. No shlammin’, no shootin’.
If you woulda known him you
wouldn’t have spent a minute in
jail.

         BENNY
How’d you get caught anyway,
a smart guy like you?

         CHARLEY
Cops grabbed me with a hatbox
of full of nose candy.

         MEYER
You still sellin’ hop to
hooers?

         CHARLEY
It’s a good business. Little
package big money. I’d be
walkin’ around today if that
pimp Motchie hadn’t ratted
me out.

         BENNY
Can’t let these rats think
they can get away with
squealin’.

         CHARLEY
Motchie’s in with the cops.
I touch him they’ll be all
over me.

         MEYER
So we’ll get him for you.

         CHARLEY
You’d do that for me?

         MEYER
Yeah. And then you get
somebody for us. Deal?

         CHARLEY
(hugging him, laughing)
I shoulda known you weren’t
doin’ no friendly favors…
Deal…


INT. NEW YORK REPUBLICAN CLUB. NIGHT.

A paneled club room. A group of portly businessmen, more interested in their cigars than their guest speaker, Fiorello La Guardia. All except for Tom who listens with interest.

         LA GUARDIA
For too long the Republican
Party has been content to
control the upstate vote and
leave New York City to the
crooks in Tammany Hall.

         AN OLD REPUBLICAN
We have no influence with the
foreign element, Mr. La
Guardia.

         LA GUARDIA
You’re not trying. These people
come from cultures of bribery
and intimidation. They have to
be educated in the American
way of life..

         ANOTHER REPUBLICAN
The police are corrupt. The whole
area is a sinkhole of graft and
depravity.

         TOM
The gangsters get away
with murder in broad daylight.
They are accepted in the
community.

         LA GUARDIA
They’re not accepted, sir.
They’re feared and hated.

         TOM
So if a young Republican
challenged them in their
territory…

         LA GUARDIA
The first politician who stands
up to the racketeers will be a
hero to thousands of new voters.


Tom nods; he’s getting an idea.

EXT. ESSEX STREET. NIGHT

Motchie parades down the street with his “girls,” speaking loudly, brushing people aside. He meets Meyer and Benny coming the other way.

         BENNY
Well look who’s here.

         MEYER
You meet the best people
on Essex Street, dontcha know.

         MOTCHIE
Hey boys. Haven’t seen you
around lately, Benny.

         BENNY
Not crazy about the
merchandise, Motchie.
If I wanna screw an old
broad I can go to my cousin
Ruthie.

         MOTCHIE
Hey, I’ll get you anything
you want. Come down to my
joint on Bayard Street.
Getcha a pipe, too.

         BENNY
That’s more like it…

EXT.CHINATOWN.NIGHT

Motchie leads the boys down a dark, narrow street. CHINESE bustle by, heads down.

         MOTCHIE
I been hearin’ a lot about
you boys. Workin’ with
Lepke.

         MEYER
Industrial management. We
been hearin’ a lot about you,
too…

         MOTCHIE
Yeah, I’m spreadin’ out. Got
a joint uptown at the Abbey
Hotel.


Meyer looks around; the street is empty. He grabs Motchie and walks him toward a basement entrance.

         MOTCHIE
Hey, this ain’t the place.


From behind, Benny jams an ICE PICK into Motchie’s spine. He screams and goes rigid. Meyer drags him down the steps. Benny jumps down after and plunges the ice pick into the back of his neck. He goes limp. The boys jump out and walk away, Benny tossing the pick as they turn the corner.

INT. SINGING CLASS. NIGHT.

Tom Dewey, now in his early twenties, is standing at a piano, straining to hit the high notes in Pagliacci. In the class: FRANCES HUTT, a petite, pretty soprano winces at every clinker. The MAESTRO, a temperamental Italian, rises from the piano.

         MAESTRO
Mr. Dewey, may I ask: are
you studying another
profession?

         TOM
I’m at Columbia Law School.

         MAESTRO
Well don’t ever sing in
front of a jury. You’ll
lose the case…


INT. DRUGSTORE. NIGHT.

Frances and Tom sit in a booth sipping sodas.

         FRANCES
You have to work up to the
high notes.


She demonstrates, singing a flawless scale. The CUSTOMERS applaud and Tom shakes his head with an admiring smile.

          TOM
I’ll never sing like that.
I’ll never hold an audience
spellbound.

          FRANCES
There’s no better stage
than a courtroom.

          TOM
Or a political debate. I’m
getting active in the
Republican Club…

          FRANCES
Won’t get much applause
there. Democrats run this
town.

          TOM
Not for long. I heard a
man named La Guardia speak
the other night. He says
the party needs young men
to carry its message to
the people.

          FRANCES
Tom Dewey the pride of
Oswosso, Michigan, rides
into the big city on his
white horse guns blazing,
and throws all the bad
guys out.

          TOM
Makes a good story,
doesn’t it?

          FRANCES
Let’s just say you’ll sing
the lead in Rigoletto
before you clean up New
York.


INT. ITALIAN BAKERY. NIGHT.

Benny and Meyer sit at a marble table eating cheesecake. Across the room Charley is standing, hat in hand, in front of Joe Masseria, who has gotten fatter since we first saw him. The boys watch in amazement as Charley kisses his ring.

         BENNY
You see that?


Charley returns with a smile.

         CHARLEY
Okay you’re in. I told
Masseria you were workin’
with me.

         MEYER
What does that get us?

         CHARLEY
Protection. We can run any
racket we want in this
neighborhood as long as we
throw him somethin’.

          BENNY
What makes him so big?

          CHARLEY
He’s kinda the head of the
club that runs everything.

          MEYER
How do we join this club?

          CHARLEY
You don’t, it’s for Italians
only. This guy snaps his finger
and a thousand greaseballs kiss
his hand and call him Don
Giuseppe like he’s still in the
old country. He’s a fat pig,
don’t know from nothin’.
But the crumbs off his table is
like the biggest loaf of bread
you ever seen.

         BENNY
I could stroll over there
right now and cut open that
tub of guts.

         MEYER
Then you’d have a thousand
Italians with a vendetta
against you. We oughta go see
Rothstein. He does business
the American way.


EXT. ROTHSTEIN’S TOWNHOUSE. NIGHT

Meyer and Charley stand at the door, looking around in awe.

         MEYER
Not bad, huh? They don’t
call him The Brain for
nothin’.


The door opens. A BUTLER greets them.

         BUTLER
Good evening, gentlemen. Mr.
Rothstein is waiting.

They follow him through a glittering vestibule.

         CHARLEY
How does a little putz like
you get to the great Arnold
Rothstein?

         MEYER
I met him at the Weinberg
Bar Mitzvah. See, we got
a club, too.

         CHARLEY
How do I join?

         MEYER
First, you get a painful
operation.


ROTHSTEIN, in a silk smoking jacket, greets them with a smile.

         ROTHSTEIN
Meyer, Charley, thanks for
coming.

         CHARLEY
It’s an honor, Mr. Rothstein.


Rothstein puts his arms around both boys and walks them into the dining room.

         ROTHSTEIN
Everybody calls me AR…


INT.ROTHSTEIN’S DINING ROOM. NIGHT.

An opulent table under a crystal chandelier. The butler serves and pours. Meyer and Charley, are intimidated by the surroundings, confused by the array of cutlery.

         ROTHSTEIN
A cop is a crook with no
guts. He’ll always be
happy with a small piece
of your action. That’s
your fish knife, Charley.

         CHARLEY
Oh yeah, my fish knife…

ROTHSTEIN
Now the politicians, they’re
just a bunch of hypocrites.
Whorehouse on Saturday,
church on Sunday.

         MEYER
What does that make us AR?

         ROTHSTEIN
Businessmen, backbone of
America. We give people
what they want. How you
makin’ the rent, Charley?

         CHARLEY
I help the boys downtown.
Sell a little hop…

         ROTHSTEIN
Good business to invest in
on the sly. Let somebody
else do the dirty work.
How about you, Meyer?

         MEYER
I like to run a crap games.

         CHARLEY
He’s a whiz with numbers,AR.

         ROTHSTEIN
That’s what I’m lookin’ for.
Ford makes a car, everybody
buys it,. Post makes a cereal
everybody eats it. I have a
product–gambling, which I can
turn into the biggest industry
in America. But I need talented
guys to run it. You boys are
real executive material. We
just have to smooth out some
of the rough edges.


INT.WANAMAKER’S. DAY.

A conservative haberdasher. Meyer is being fitted for a suit under Rothstein’s watchful eye.

         MEYER
I coulda gone to
Hennigsberg’s on Rivington
Street for half price.

         ROTHSTEIN
Forget those greenhorns, you
gotta use an American tailor.
Somebody sees you in a John
Wanamaker suit they know you
got class…

         CHARLEY
steps out of a fitting room,
a man transformed in a pin
striped suit.

         CHARLEY
What do you think?

         ROTHSTEIN
You look like the Chairman
of the Board.

         MEYER
Ironing board maybe.


Charley admires himself in the mirror.

         CHARLEY
Clothes make the man they
say.
(pokes Meyer)
From now on, call me Chairman
of the Board.
</>

END ACT THREE

Next: Part 7/Act Four: Billions & Booze (Wednesday, 11/09/11)

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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