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Movies You Will Never See/Empires of Crime/Part 22

*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 TWO

INT. TOM’S OFFICE. NIGHT.

Tom listens intently as a Dave Miller tells his story.

        MILLER
It’s all organized. We pay
ten bucks per girl for a
bail fund that gets them
out of jail. Ten bucks
goes for paying off the
Vice Squad. Three hundred
a week to Bettilo.

        TOM
Who’s he?

        MILLER
The collector. Comes around
after a big Friday night.
If you can’t pay he saps
you down.

        TOM
Luciano ever sap you down?

        MILLER
No he don’t do his own rough
stuff.

        TOM
So how do you know he’s
Bettilo’s boss?

        MILLER
I seen ‘em together. I
brought a broad to the
Waldorf for Luciano.
Nancy Presser…

INT.TOM’S OFFICE. DAY

Dawn. An argument has been raging for hours. Tom watches, trying to make up his mind as his staff fights it out.

        HURWITZ
It’s a known fact that Luciano
runs every racket in the city.

        GURFEIN
We still need to establish a
direct connection to
prostitution.

        HURWITZ
Miller gives us the connection.
He brought a girl to Luciano.

        GURFEIN
That only proves that Luciano
is a good customer. We need
to see him taking money,
making day to day decisions.

        TOM
Miss Carter, you worked in
Woman’s Court. Did the
prostitutes ever mention
any ties to the Syndicate?

        CARTER
All I heard were the most
heartbreaking stories.

        TOM
Which would sound very
moving on a witness stand.
These women are on the
lowest rung of the criminal
ladder. They are fragile
souls…

        CARTER
Anyone who can drink a quart
of gin and sleep with twenty
men a night is hardly fragile,
Chief. But they are downtrodden
and abused.

        TOM
For five years I’ve turned
down the idea of going after
the prostitution racket. It
seemed like small potatoes.
But I overlooked the human
aspect. People wouldn’t like
their Good Time Charley so
much if they saw how he
ruined the lives of young
girls. I can see a parade of
fallen women marching into a
courtroom and pointing their
fingers at Charley Luciano,
saying:”you did this to me.”
Let’s see if he can stand up
to that.


INT.BROTHEL. NIGHT.

Towels are jammed into the window cracks and under the door. Nancy  and two YOUNG PROSTITUTES are smoking opium. There is a KNOCK.

        NANCY
Oh God, I don’t feel like
workin’.

Opens the door and a bunch of DETECTIVES shoulder in.

        DETECTIVE
Get your coats, ladies, this
is a raid.

        NANCY
I don’t get it. We paid
everybody off.

        DETECTIVE
Not Tom Dewey, you haven’t.


INT. FREIGHT ELEVATOR. NIGHT.

Nancy is jammed in with a bunch of complaining PROSTITUTES and bored cops. The door opens on the HOLDING ROOM. The floor is crowded with raucous PROSTITUTES and harried COPS. Eunice Carter stands at the door with a welcoming smile.

        CARTER
Good evening ladies. Give
your names to the officers
at the tables. There’s coffee
and donuts if you’re hungry…

        NANCY
We’ll be bailed out before
the coffee starts perkin’…


INT. HOLDING ROOM. NIGHT.

A short time later. Nancy is in a crowd of angry PROSTITUTES mobbing the cops. “Let us out.” “You can’t keep us here.” TOM walks into the midst of the angry crowd and raises
his hand.

        TOM
Ladies please, we want to
help you.


He is greeted by hoots of derision.

        TOM
Ask yourselves, where will
you be in two years? In
prison? Sick from drugs and
rotgut booze?

        A PROSTITUTE
We’ll all be dead, what do
you care?

The women jeer and shout: “Yeah, what do you care?”

        TOM
We care and we’ll prove it.
We’ve brought doctors here
to give you a good check up.
(points to CLERGYMEN behind
him)
When was the last time you
spoke to a priest or a
minister or a rabbi?
(points to SOCIAL WORKERS)
Some of you have kids in an
orphanage. These social
workers can get them back
for you.
(the women grow quiet)
Some of you have families
who are trying to find you.
Husbands looking for wives.
Mothers for their daughters.
A woman in Auburn, New York
put in a missing person
report for her daughter,
Nancy. Is there a Nancy
Presser here? Your mother
wants you back, Nancy, no
questions asked.

IN THE CROWD

Nancy chokes back a sob.

INT. OFFICE. NIGHT.

Outside the glass window the PROSTITUTES mill, restlessly. Inside, Nancy daubs at a tear as Tom tries to convince her to testify.

        NANCY
It’s a dirty trick bringin’
my mother into this.

        TOM
Luciano’s playing a worse
trick on you, Nancy.

        NANCY
Go peddle your papers, Boy
Scout, I don’t know no
Luciano.

        TOM
Dave Miller told us all
about you and Charley.

        NANCY
That rotten stoolie..!

        TOM
He’s your friend, Nancy. He
told us how you came to the
city a frightened kid with
no money and no place to go.
How they grabbed you and put
you on the hustle. Fed you
dope so you’d be their slave
forever. You girls hate
yourselves. You think it’s
all your fault, but it’s not.
You had a bad break.

        NANCY
Yeah, yeah, don’t hand me
that bull. You just want me
to rat on Charley. Well, I
got bad news for you: he
don’t have nothin’ to do
with the houses. Charley
Luciano don’t need no
nickel dime action.

        TOM
He’s your friend, huh?

        NANCY
I’m his number one, ask
anybody.

        TOM
Does he take you out a lot?

        NANCY
He likes to stay home.
Listen to the radio shows…

        TOM
Broadway Charley a homebody?
He’s in the clubs every night.
I see his name in the columns
all the time.

        NANCY
With me it’s different. I’m
kinda like his wife…

        TOM
C’mon Nancy, he only wants
you for one thing…

        NANCY
(faltering)
No, it’s not like that…

        TOM
He’s ashamed of you. When
he wants to be seen in
public he goes with Gay
Orlova from the Follies.
He bathes her in jewels
and furs. What does he
give you?

        NANCY
Charley’s been good to me…

        TOM
He whistles and you come
running. Then when it’s
time to go he slips you
a few dollars and sends
you back to a filthy hotel
room to turn more two dollar
tricks, doesn’t he?

        NANCY
It’s not that way.

        TOM
He’s using you, Nancy. When
he gets bored he’ll dump you.
You’ll end up a syphilitic
drug addicted old whore dying
alone and forgotten in a
charity ward.

        NANCY
You wouldn’t be no better.
No man would.

        TOM
I’m no saint. But here’s
the difference: you work
with me you’ll have respect.
You’ll be reunited with your
family. You’ll be clean.
You’ll be able to start a new
life. I’m the best friend you’ve
got right now, Nancy. Give me
a chance to prove it.


Nancy stares at him, trying to make up her mind.

INT.BEN MILLER’S. NIGHT.

A swank casino where New York’s elite is trying its luck. Charley and Gay Orlova enter in evening clothes. Waving and shaking hands they make their way to the roulette wheel where Meyer is watching anxiously as Walter Chrysler makes huge bets.

        MEYER
He took a hundred G’s
credit. Said you would
okay it.

        CHARLEY
Whaddya kvetchin’, the guy
owns the Chrysler building.
(waves to Chrysler)
Tell ‘em where you got it,
Walter.

        MEYER
Polakoff’s losin’ his shirt
again.

        CHARLEY
That’s good, ain’t it?

        MEYER
It’s money we’ll never see.
He’ll just take it off our
legal fees.

        CHARLEY
So what, we’re still ahead.

        MEYER
It doesn’t go on the books,
so it affects our cash flow
and our winning percentage…

        CHARLEY
Stop thinkin’ like a
bookkeeper…


At the crap table, Polakoff rolls snake eyes and the CROWD MOANS in sympathy.

        CHARLEY
Uh oh, I hate to see my
lawyer losin’ money. Means
my fee’s gonna go up…
(hands Gay a roll of bills)
Here y’are, baby, give the
dice a little kiss, that’ll
make ‘em jump…


The crowd laughs as Polakoff steps away from the table and follows Charley and Meyer into:

INT.BACK OFFICE. NIGHT.

BOOKKEEPERS in eyeshades are pounding adding machines. Without being asked they step out. The three men confer in the shadows.

        POLAKOFF
Dewey’s getting big headlines
with his anti Luciano campaign.

        CHARLEY
He pinched every small timer
in town and couldn’t get
nothin’.

        POLAKOFF
Now he’s raided all the
brothels. Arrested hundreds
of prostitutes.

        CHARLEY
What a catastrophe. What
are all the johns gonna do
for company?

        POLAKOFF
He’s got your girlfriend
Nancy Presser.

        CHARLEY
So what? All she can tell
him is what a great lay I
am.

        MEYER
Cover your ears, Mo.

        POLAKOFF
(stepping out)
I’ll be outside losing
money…

        MEYER
(waits for him to leave)
Maybe we should have let
Dutch have his way.

        CHARLEY
If we killed Dewey they
woulda shut us down for
good. This way I’m takin’
the heat for organization.

        MEYER
So take a little vacation
instead.

        CHARLEY
You keep tryin’ to get me
to leave town. Whaddya you
lookin’ to take over while
I’m gone?

        MEYER
That’s a nice thing to say
when I’m wrackin’ my brains
tryin’ to keep you outta
jail. Don’t you realize:
we’re done here. Dewey’s
not gonna let us breathe.

        CHARLEY
So what am I supposed to
do?

        MEYER
Cash out. Go to Miami, out
west, where there’s easy
pickings and a quiet life.

        CHARLEY
That’s what you want, Meyer.
A quiet life. Grow old
gracefully. Die in bed with
your grandchildren all
around you. Capone was right.
You don’t know who you are.

        MEYER
I’m a business man, Charley.

        CHARLEY
You run your rackets like
a business, but that don’t
make you a business man.
You’re a desperado, just
like me. You were born
schemin’, you’ll die
schemin’.

        MEYER
What do you wanna do,
conquer the world, Charley.?

        CHARLEY
Just a piece of it. I wanna
build this business up so
that every time somebody
makes a bet he’s bettin’
with me. You know who gave
me that idea? You did.

        MEYER
Things have changed.

        CHARLEY
I wanna build it up so
that every time a guy
goes out for a night on
the town he’s doin’ it
in my clubs, drinkin’ my
liquor, listenin’ to my
bands. I like this life,
Meyer. Sittin’ on the
third base line at Yankee
Stadium, the owner’s box
at Belmont, ringside at
the Garden. Walkin’ into
a club with a chorus honey
in a mink coat. Two on the
aisle at a show I’m backin’.
Everybody wavin’ and callin’
‘Hey Charley…

        MEYER
Those days died with
Prohibition, Charley.

        CHARLEY
People are still comin’ to
us for a good time and they
always will. They know the
only way they can get rich
is if they get lucky with us.
You’ll see: The people won’t
let Dewey put us outta
business.


INT. GRAND JURY. DAY

REPORTERS, PHOTOGS and NEWSREEL CREWS rush forward as Tom steps out of the Grand Jury room with Nancy and a few of her FRIENDS. In a plain dress, scrubbed clean without make up, Nancy looks like the small town girl next door. Tom guides her toward the cameras.

        TOM
Just step right up here,
ladies and pose for the
newsreel boys.
(to the REPORTERS)
Nancy Presser has become
our most zealous advocate.
She’s convinced many of her
friends to clean up and
testify…


The REPORTERS clamor for a statement. Nancy looks hesitantly at Tom, but he nudges her forward with a reassuring smile.

        TOM
Go ahead. Say what’s in
your heart.

        NANCY
(halting)
I’m not a bad girl, I
just got some bad breaks.
But Mr. Dewey stepped in
and saved me from a life
of depravity and disease.
As Mr. Dewey says, God
always has mercy on a
repentant sinner. I’m
telling the truth at
last and I pray God
forgives me…


She looks back at Tom. He pats her, approvingly on the hand.

        TOM
Charles Luciano is the czar
of prostitution. His
syndicate controls more than
two hundred brothels,
employing three thousand
prostitutes grossing twelve
million dollars a year.
People say prostitution is a
victimless crime, but these
women are its victims. They
are ruined, exploited, then
abandoned when they can no
longer earn money for their
brutal masters. They have
come forth at great personal
risk to expose Luciano’s
vicious racket.


EXT. DARK STREET. NIGHT.

Gay Orlova sits in the back of a sedan, bundled in furs. Charley Workman throws suitcases into the trunk. Meyer and Charley walk to the car, talking excitedly.

        MEYER
You change cars in Philadelphia
and Cleveland. Then take the
train into Hot Springs. Owney
Madden’s got the whole state of
Arkansas locked up for you.

        CHARLEY
I got nothin’ to do with
these whorehouses. What am
I runnin’ for?

        MEYER
We need time to pull strings.
Maybe squash this thing.

        CHARLEY
Dewey’s knows I’m innocent.       

        MEYER
He’s a grifter like us,
Charley. He’s got no morals…

        CHARLEY
How about those newspaper guys
howlin’ for my blood. I was
always nice to them…

        MEYER
You know how they are. They
go the way the wind blows.

        CHARLEY
I can’t get over Nancy
turnin’ on me like that.
She don’t owe me nothin’,
but still, I always
thought she kinda liked
me…

        MEYER
Wait’ll this is over and
you’re back on top. You’ll
be Mr. Popularity all over
again..Gimme a call when
you get to Hot Springs…


They shake hands through the window and Meyer watches Charley’s car speed away, his reassuring smile fading to a look of concern.

INT. MEYER’S APARTMENT. DAY

Early the next morning. Meyer walks in, sleepless and haggard. His children, PAUL, SANDRA and BUDDY, on crutches and braces, are in the vestibule with their coats on and suitcases. They look at him, eyes wide with fright.

        MEYER
Hey kids, what’s the matter.


Meyer’s mother, YETTA, comes out.

        YETTA
Oy Maier, where were you?
Two days we’ve been trying
to find you.

        MEYER
I had business, ma. What
happened?

        YETTA
(takes him away from the
children)
Annie had a breakdown.
Screaming, banging her head,
pulling out her hair. The
kinderlach were so scared.
An ambulance came. They took
her to Bellevue…


INT. BELLEVUE. DAY

Meyer follows a NURSE down a gloomy corridor and into:

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM. DAY

where Anne is in a gray hospital robe, staring out the window.

        MEYER
Annie…


She turns with a dull, emotionless look.

        ANNE
You finally showed up. Where
were you traipsing around
this time?

        MEYER
I had to get Charley out
of town.

        ANNE
Oh yeah, your old friend,
who gave such a nice toast
at our wedding. Charley,
the white slaver…

        MEYER
What happened to you?

        ANNE
I got sick and tired of them.

        MEYER
Sick and tired of who?

        ANNE
The people listening on the
phone. I hear their voices
when I pick it up. The men
following me on the street.
Sometimes I walk right at
them and they turn around
or make believe they’re
reading the paper.

        MEYER
Did you tell the doctors?

        ANNE
They think I’m hearing voices,
imagining things. But you know
I’m not, Meyer. Dewey put those
people there, didn’t he?

        MEYER
They can’t do nothin’ but
watch, Annie. Try and forget
about ‘em.

        ANNE
Look Meyer…


Anne reaches under her gown and comes out with a JEWEL BOX filled with RINGS and BROOCHES  and PINS.

        ANNE
They tried to take my jewels,
but I hid them.
(holds up a DIAMOND NECKLACE)
You gave me this on our
honeymoon, remember?

        MEYER
Sure I do…

        ANNE
We were happy when the
babies were coming. You
were home every night.
Walter Winchell lived in
the building. Remember he
came for bagels and lox
one Sunday? He talked so
respectful to you. Always
took his hat off when I
saw him in the elevator.

        MEYER
Everybody loved us during
Prohibition. The party
didn’t start until we
showed up.

        ANNE
But now he’s on the radio
calling you a sewer rat
and saying there’s no
place for snakes like
you in FDR’s America…

        MEYER
These guys blow with the
wind. It don’t mean nothin’.

        ANNE
It does to your children,
Meyer. I had my doubts…Oy,
if I had only known…

        MEYER
(takes her hand)
It’ll be good again, Annie,
I promise. I got a few
things to take care of and
then we’ll move to Cuba…

        ANNE
All of a sudden Cuba is
the Promised Land? Next
year in Cuba?

        MEYER
Annie, why do you think
I’m knockin’ my brains
out goin’ back and forth..?
I’m doin’ it for you and
the kids.

        ANNE
Don’t splurge on a big house,
Meyer because we aren’t coming.

        MEYER
Annie, believe me. Cuba is
our chance to be respectable.

        ANNE
It’s too late, Meyer, don’t
you see? They’ll never let
you change…You should live
like Charley. Out every night,
girls coming and going. A man
like you can’t have a family.
It’s wrong, Meyer…


She turns away and goes back to the window, fondling her jewels, shutting him out.

MONTAGE…

CHARLEY drives south, GAY sleeping on his shoulder.

GURFEIN shows the staff a BANNER HEADLINE: DEWEY INDICTS LUCIANO

TOM gives a major press conference.

        TOM
Lucky Luciano is Public
Enemy Number One in New
York. He is to be arrested
on sight wherever he has
lighted.


RAILROAD STATION

A sign reads HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS…GET WEALTHY, STAY HEALTHY. Charley and Gay get off the train and are greeted by mobster OWNEY MADDEN and a delegation of SOUTHERN POLITICIANS. As FLASHBULBS POP:

        MADDEN
Welcome to Hot Springs, Charley.
This is your town now. Dewey
can’t touch you here.


NEWSREEL…Tom behind a BANK of MICROPHONES.

        TOM
I have today issued a request
to the state of Arkansas for
the immediate extradition of
Charles Luciano…I don’t
think the good citizens
realize that their Governor
is offering safe haven to
the worst criminal in America.


NEWSREEL…HOT SPRINGS COURTHOUSE…Charley and Mo Polakoff emerge smiling and meet Owney Madden on the steps.

        NEWSCASTER
Lucky Luciano may be Public
Enemy Number One in New York,
but here in Arkansas he’s a
solid citizen. The state court
refused to extradite him, the
Governor has allowed him to
stay and the Mayor of Hot
Springs has given him the key
to the city. Here he meets
with old pal Owney Madden, a
former New York bootlegger
who runs the Warm Springs spa
and resort, a weekend hideaway
for all the best people in the
South, Lucky Luciano included.


INT.OWNEY MADDEN’S CASINO. NIGHT

A banner over the bandstand, reads WELCOME LUCKY. The band strikes up a FANFARE as Charley, in a white dinner jacket and Gay in a strapless gown, walk into the club. Charley waves to the applauding crowd as Owney escorts them to a ringside table. A WAITER pops CHAMPAGNE.

        CHARLEY
I hope that ain’t the stuff
we used to make, Owney.

        MADDEN
French, right off the boat.
(they sit down)
I heard from Meyer today.
Polakoff’s workin’ to dismiss
the indictment. Meyer’s gonna
look out for your interests.
We’ll give you twenty five G’s
a month walkin’ around money.
I’ll advance it and get it
back from the boys…

        CHARLEY
I really appreciate what
you’re doin’…

        MADDEN
Hey, us old knockaround guys
gotta stick together, right?
You’re gonna like it here,
Charley. All the comforts of
home.

        CHARLEY
Got any corned beef?

        MADDEN
We’re workin’ on it.

        CHARLEY
What do you think, Gay?

        GAY
It’s beautiful down here.
I love the weather.

        CHARLEY
Yeah, it’s beautiful.
(shakes his head, sadly)
But it ain’t Broadway.

END ACT TWO


Next: Part 23/Act 3: On Trial

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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