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MOVIES YOU WILL NEVER SEE/Empires of Crime/Part 9

*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 /Part 9
By Heywood Gould

ACT FIVE

INT. DISTILLERY. NIGHT.

A maze of gleaming VATS and PIPES. Meyer walks through, with FRANK COSTELLO.

        MEYER
See, we cut out the
middleman. Make the
booze ourselves.

        COSTELLO
But what’s it gonna taste
like?

        MEYER
Who cares? After two
drinks they can’t tell
the difference.

They walk through a door into a distillery into a WHOLESALE BAKERY. BAKERS in whites, pull breads out of huge OVENS.

        MEYER
We had to open this
bakery to hide the
smell of the alcohol.
So now we’re in the
bread business. We
just need one thing.

        COSTELLO
Money…

        MEYER
Sugar. Can’t make alcohol
without it. The government’s
watchin’ all large sugar
transactions. We need a
supplier who’s not afraid
of the feds…But I think
I found one.

        COSTELLO
Who?

        MEYER
Me.

EXT. EL FAY’S. NIGHT.


A Broadway speakeasy. A LIVERIED DOORMAN welcomes FLAPPERS and their COLLEGE BEAUS, WALL STREETERS in top hats, LADIES in gowns and JEWELS. LARRY FAY, the proprietor, in his signature outfit, black suit, black shirt, purple tie, glad hands everybody.

        FAY
C’mon in, the party’s just
startin’.
(snatching a FLASK out of a
college kid’s hand)
You won’t need that,
professor. We got plenty
in there.


A CONVOY of TAXIS rolls to the curb. The Doorman rushes to open the door and gasps as BABE RUTH gets out accompanied by a BEVY of BROADWAY BEAUTIES.

         DOORMAN
Larry, it’s Babe Ruth..

         FAY
The Bambino himself. You got
three cabs goin’ tonight,
huh Babe.

         RUTH
Yeah, one for the girls.
One for the booze. And
one for Benny.


Benny Siegel, in a white top coat and fedora gets out of a third cab with more SHOWGIRLS.

         DOORMAN
(awed)
Hey, it’s Bugsy Siegel.

         FAY
Better not call him Bugsy
to his face…Mr. Siegel,
welcome to my humble abode.

         BENNY
Yeah, you don’t mind that
we brought our own liquor,
Larry. We don’t want the
Babe gettin’ poisoned on
your rotgut.

         RUTH
Hope you’re closin’ at noon,
Mr. Fay. I got a game at
one o’clock and I’ll need
at least an hour to sober
up…


INT. EL FAY’S. NIGHT.

A lavish, glittering nightclub. A CHORUS LINE is doing a wild CHARLESTON. Everything is festive and luxurious, but the CUSTOMERS are all drinking out of COFFEE CUPS.

AT A CORNER TABLE

Charley, dapper in a tux with his customary yellow and black handkerchief is seated with GAY ORLOVA,a blonde bombshell of a showgirl. Behind him stands his bodyguard, CHARLEY “THE BUG” WORKMAN. Next to him is Jimmy Hines, the former block captain, now a Tammany big shot.

ON THE BANDSTAND

The spotlight shines on JIMMY WALKER, a baby faced Irish tenor, singing his hit song:

         WALKER
Will you love me in December/
As you did in May/Do you
swear to remember/The vows
you made today…


AT CHARLEY’S TABLE

Hines leans over with a smile.

         HINES
That’s Jimmy Walker our
next Mayor.

         CHARLEY
That warbler?

         HINES
Yeah. Charley Murphy heard
him sing and made him a State
Assemblyman. People like him.
When he gets in we’ll
be runnin’ the city.

         CHARLEY
I don’t wanna run it,
Jimmy. I just want a
piece of it.


TEXAS GUINAN

blonde and brassy in a low cut gown sparkling with sequins, comes on stage, blowing a POLICE WHISTLE and banging on a wooden CLAPPER. She throws a SPOTLIGHT on the crowd.

         TEXAS
How’s your coffee, suckers?
The audience cheers its
approval.

         TEXAS
Better keep spendin’ or
I’ll shut the lights and
send the girls home.


The crowd laughs. One very drunk MIDDLE AGED MAN jumps up and stuffs bills down the chorus girls’ cleavage.

         TEXAS
That’s the spirit. And
now look what the wind
blew in… The Babe
himself. See you brought
your trainers with you,
huh Babe?


The spotlight follows Ruth, arm in arm with two girls. He waves to the cheering crowd.

         TEXAS
Fellas, watch your wives,
Ben Siegel is in town…


Now the spot pans to Siegel, surrounded by girls. Behind him two HOODS push a WHEELBARROW full of bottles. They go around the room, putting a bottle on every table.

         TEXAS
Drinks on you, Ben?

         BENNY
Everywhere I go, Texas.


The band starts, the girls come out. Benny passes, Charley’s table with no sign of recognition.

         TEXAS
Hey Ben, like you to
meet an old pal of mine,
Broadway Charley…


Charley rises in the spotlight and the two exchange handshakes and “pleasure to meet ya’s…”

         TEXAS
Say hello to Charley’s
enamorata, Ben. Miss Gay
Orlova. She’s wowin’ em in
the Scandals and when that
closes, Charley’ll back her
in any show she wants to do,
won’t ya Charley?


Charley kisses Gay on the cheek.

         CHARLEY
Anything the little lady wants.


The band starts and the dancers crowd the floor, but a worried Larry Fay pushes through the crush to Charley’s table. Then, in a groveling, pleading manner:

         FAY
Charley, Benny’s killin’ my
business, bringin’ his own
liquor into the joint.

         CHARLEY
So buy from him.

         FAY
I can’t. I gotta deal with
Big Bill Dwyer in Brooklyn
or he’ll burn me down. He
comes every night to check
on me…


BIG BILL DWYER (CROSSCUT)

Thick and florid and bulging out of his tuxedo, is sitting at a table with some of his henchman.

         CHARLEY
Brooklyn? Ain’t they still
got Indians there?

         FAY
C’mon Charley, nobody does
nothin’ in this town without
your personal okay…

         CHARLEY
Hey Larry, you’re blockin my
view.


Fay has been dismissed. He backs away without another word.

         HINES
I know what you’re thinkin’,
Charley. Big Bill runs the
Brooklyn docks, Charley.
He’s got an army around him
at all times.

         CHARLEY
I just wanna give him the
name of my tailor. He
needs his tux taken in.


INT. KITCHEN. NIGHT.

Yetta Lansky has a linen napkin over her face and is blessing the Sabbath candles. Meyer and his girlfriend ANNE CITRON, a homely but spirited brunette hold hands under the table as Yetta finishes the blessing and Max pours the wine.

         YETTA
You should be honored, Anne.
You’re the first girl Maier
ever brought home…

         MEYER
She’s the first girl I
ever took out, Mama…

         ANNE
(poking him)
Oh yeah, tell me another
one.


They stop as Max says the blessing over the wine.

         YETTA
He’s a good boy, my
Maier. Comes home every
Friday night


They stop again as Max says the blessings over the bread.

         YETTA
(ladling the soup)
I got a nice boiled chicken…

         MEYER
My mom boils everything.
I brought a turkey home
once and she tried to
boil it.

         YETTA
Who knows from turkeys?
In the old country we
had geese and ducks and
capons.We would have ten,
for Shabbas dinner. My
husband had a store.
Beautiful fabrics…

         MAX
Fabric from all over the
world, even from India
and China.

         YETTA
Meyer’s doing very well
with his garage business
for a boy who didn’t even
go to high school.

         MEYER
My mom’s still mad about
that.

         MAX
What does your father do,
Anne? If may I ask.

         ANNE
He imports sugar and
molasses from Cuba.
Meyer’s gonna work for
him as a salesman

         YETTA
Molasses? Vus es dus?

         MEYER
It’s made outta sugar, Ma.
They use it for candy and
pancake syrups…

         MAX
(with a sly look at Meyer)
They use sugar for making
alcohol.

         MEYER
No kiddin, they do Pop?


EXT. RIVER CAFE. NIGHT.


A dive under the Brooklyn Bridge. A bunch of HOODS are standing guard as a MAIL TRUCK drives up. Three MAILMEN get out, backs to the CAMERA, and walk to the door.

INT.CAFE. NIGHT.

In a smoke filled room, Big Bill Dwyer is playing cards with his “boys.” The Mailmen enter.

         DWYER
You guys sellin’ tickets
to the Postman’s ball?


The Mailmen draw guns. CAMERA comes around on their leader, Benny Siegel

         MAILMAN
We’re here to pick up a
package.


EXT. TIMES SQUARE (STOCK) DAY.

Dawn and the city takes a breath for a few hours. The streets belong to the MILK WAGONS and LATE NIGHT STRAGGLERS.

EXT. DUCORE’S. DAY

An all night drug store on Forty seventh and Broadway. Meyer jumps out of a cab and enters, walking past a BORED CLERK.

         MEYER
Mix me a bicarbonate,
willya Mo, I just had
my mother’s matzoh balls.


INT. CHARLEY’S OFFICE.

A spare, windowless room. A few bridge chairs and a rickety card table. Charley is wolfing down a corned beef sandwich. Charley “the Bug” stands at his perennial post behind him. In a corner, reading the newspaper is a short, wiry, impeccably dressed hood named FRANK COSTELLO. Meyer enters.

         MEYER
Don’t you ever stop eating?

         CHARLEY
Gotta keep my strength up.


There is a knock. Benny enters.

         BENNY
Special delivery.


The mailmen drag a sack into the middle of the room. They slit it open, revealing:

BIG BILL DWYER

hogtied and gagged. Benny yanks the gag off his mouth.

         DWYER
(sputtering)
Sonsabitches! You can’t do
this to me.

         CHARLEY
Tell the truth, Bill.
If we asked you nice
would you have come?

         MEYER
Mr. Costello tells us you
got a  nice operation in
Brooklyn.

         COSTELLO
He’s got these speed boats,
cigarette boats they call
‘em right, Bill? They can
bring the booze over from
Jersey faster than the Coast
Guard can catch ‘em. He’s
got a fleet of taxis that
do nothin’ but make
deliveries.

         MEYER
They should pick up passengers,
too when they’re idle.

         CHARLEY
See, Bill, already Meyer came
up with an idea to double your
money. You ain’t gonna lose
nothin’ when you throw in with
us.

         DWYER
Whaddya mean when? I got
my own business. I got
friends.

         CHARLEY
Ain’t we your friends, Bill?
Benny was gonna dump you in
the river, but me and Meyer
saved you.

         BENNY
It’s like I always tellya,
Charley. You’re too nice.

         MEYER
Stick him back in the
sack. Let him call his
big shot friends…

         DWYER
(frightened)
Wait a second…You guys
got a proposition?

         CHARLEY
We wanna make you rich,
is that so bad? Frank’ll
knows all the cops and
the politicians so
nobody’ll bother you.
I’ll give you my personal
OK, which means you can
do business anywhere in
the city.

         DWYER
What do you get for
this OK?

         CHARLEY
Fifty per cent, we’re
partners, right? If you’re
not makin’ more money in
six months I’ll cover the
difference outta my own
pocket.

         DWYER
(resigned)
You guys wanna run every
racket in town?

         CHARLEY
Don’t wanna run’em, just
want a piece of ‘em.


INT. COURT ROOM. DAY.

A civil trial,an empty courtroom, a yawning judge, but Tom works himself into an eloquent frenzy in his summation. Pointing to his client, a plain elderly lady:

         TOM
If poor widow challenged
a powerful financial
institution in any other
country she would lose.


IN THE REAR OF THE COURTROOM

Tom’s boss, GEORGE MEDAILIE, slight, bald, middle aged, watches proudly.


TOM

But in America, no bank
however large can be allowed
to mismanage an account
however small. I implore you
gentlemen, give this woman the
justice she deserves.

INT. COURT OFFICE.DAY

Medailie is waiting as Tom enters.


TOM

Mr. Medailie, I’m honored.
The senior partner coming
to a minor civil suit.

         MEDAILIE
Always like to watch a
good lawyer in action.
We’ve got a new client
Tom—the Government.
I’ve been appointed US
Attorney for New York
City. My job is to
prosecute the gangster
bosses.

         TOM
You’ll need a thousand
lawyers to do the job
right.

         MEDAILIE
One is all I can afford.
So I want the best I can
get. Job pays twelve
hundred a year. What do
you say?

         TOM
It’s less than I make
now and I’m getting
married. Frankly, George,
my fiancee says these men
are harmless…

         MEDAILIE
Oh I know. People hate
Prohibition. Bootleggers
are really quaint characters
they say. Do you want to
see what these quaint
characters do?


INT.MORGUE. DAY.

Dewey and Medailie watch as MORGUE ATTENDANTS pull pallets out of wall. Dewey winces at four GRUESOME HOMICIDES.


MEDAILIE

These men were killed to
stop them from testifying.
Tortured and mutilated as
warning to others.

         TOM
(appalled)
Who did this?

         MEDAILIE
Irving Wexler, also known as
Waxey Gordon. Very refined,
a family man, collector of
first editions. A cheap
thief and a dope peddler..
Here’s another harmless
playboy.
(another MUG SHOT)
Arthur Flegenheimer also known
as Dutch Schulz. Beer, booze
and bookmaking in the Bronx
and Harlem. Brags publicly
about the men he’s killed.


Another MUG SHOT. They’re coming thick and fast.

         MEDAILIE
Frank Costello. He’s in
charge of bribing police
and politicians. Salvatore
Lucania, now known as
Charley Luciano.

         DEWEY
I’ve seen him.

         MEDAILIE
Passes himself off as a
sportsman, a Broadway
character, but he’s a
convicted drug dealer and
runs most of the bootlegging
operations in Manhattan.
Meyer Lansky, his partner.
Ben Siegel,a pathological
killer known as Bugsy. They
rent trucks to the bootleggers
and have a subsidiary that
contracts murders for other
mobsters. We have to show
people like your fiancee that
they are not Robin Hoods, but
depraved killers who are
destroying the moral fabric of
society.


Next: Part 10/ACT FIVE/Part 2: A Vendetta Is Born (Monday, 11/21) 

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 (Calendar at right.) Use Contact Us, above, for submissions.

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