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Movies You Will Never See/Empires of Crime/Part 17


*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 III

ACT TWO

INT. CITY COURTHOUSE CORRIDOR. DAY

Tom Dewey and George Medailie are walking quickly down the crowded hallway, bumping into COPS, PROSTITUTES, BOOKIES and SHYSTERS.

        MEDAILIE
This is dynamite, Tom. The
Seabury Commission has heard
a thousand witnesses. They’ve
established a clear connection
between the police and the
gangsters.

They are met by a gaggle of REPORTERS and NEWSREEL CAMERA MEN waiting outside a courtroom. FLASHBULBS POP as REPORTERS shout questions: “You Republicans are gonna make hay outta this, aintcha George?” Medailie shrugs them off with a “No comment,” and they walk through a door marked,

SEABURY COMMISSION.

INT. COURTOOM. DAY

JUDGE SAMUEL SEABURY, a dignified white haired jurist is listening with mounting indignation to a CONSUMPTIVE YOUNG WOMAN.

        YOUNG WOMAN
I told the cop I was workin’
nights as a cleanin’ lady,
but he said no respectable
woman was out at 4 am and
threw me in the paddy wagon
with the other girls.

        SEABURY
Then what happened?

        YOUNG WOMAN
He tole us a twenty five
dollar gift to the
Magistrate’s Christmas Fund
would buy us out. Otherwise
we’d be charged with
prostitution. I didn’t have
no money so he said if I
didn’t wanna go to jail I
could go up to Cokey
Brown’s house and work it
off.

        MEDAILIE
(excited)
Fifty one women have come
forward and said they were
pulled off the streets by
corrupt cops and forced to
pay a bribe or enter a
gangster controlled house
of prostitution. We need a
good prosecutor to put all
these cases together.

        TOM
(dubious)
Seems like a lot of work
just to put a couple of
crooked cops away.

        MEDAILIE
This is Page One, Tom. It
could go all the way up to
the Mayor’s office.

        TOM
Only if we found a link
between the cops, the
politicians and the
mobsters who run these
brothels. Then we could
go after them in the name
of public virtue… We
could use it as a campaign
issue.

        MEDAILIE
Democrats exploit and abuse
young women. Republicans
protect their virtue…

        TOM
But it has to be airtight,
George. To convict a gangster
in New York you have to turn
the whole city against him.

INT. CHARLEY’S SUITE. NIGHT.

A Broadway party in Charley’s Waldorf digs. A glamorous crowd clusters around the piano singing Gershwin tunes. DAVEY BETTILO enters with a bevy of tawdry BEAUTIES.

        BETTILO
Mix and mingle, girls. Don’t
talk money, it’s all about
love.

NANCY PRESSER, a tiny blonde, hangs back. The short skirt and tarty make up can’t disguise her timid innocence. Bettilo shoves her.

        BETILLO
You too, wallflower. Make
with the personality.


INT.CHARLEY’S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

Charley is showing Benny his new wardrobe, while Meyer scans the books, worriedly. Charley models an OVERCOAT.

        CHARLEY
Whaddya think?

        BENNY
How many camels they have
to kill to make that coat?

        MEYER
It’s too big on you. Anyway,
you shouldn’t be flauntin’
your money when everybody’s
broke.

        CHARLEY
Depression’s the best thing
that ever happened. Everybody’s
in hock to us…

        MEYER
And they resent guys with
money.

        BENNY
The bankers, the bosses, not
us. They love us…

        MEYER
Don’t kid yourself. They hate
anybody with a warm coat and
a coupla bucks to buy a nice
dinner.

        CHARLEY
Y’see where Capone’s runnin’
soup kitchens in Chicago? We
could do somethin’ like that.
Maybe lower the price of beer…

        MEYER
That won’t do no good.
Seabury’s lookin’ to shut
us down. All this shootin’
was bad for business.

        CHARLEY
Had to be done.

        MEYER
I know but it riled people
up. Cops are runnin’ wild.
Judges are too greedy.
Everybody’s killin’ the
goose that lays the golden
eggs.

        CHARLEY
So what do you wanna do
about it?

        MEYER
Cash outta New York.

        CHARLEY
Leave the city? You nuts?

        MEYER
We got casinos all over
Florida. In  Newport,
Kentucky, in Hot Springs,
Arkansas. In these towns
a fifty dollar bill buys
you the whole police
department and they throw
in the Mayor. Costello just
put eight hundred thousand
slot machines in Louisiana
and all it cost was a
colored hooker for Huey Long.
I got a guy in Cuba who says
he can open up the whole
country for us.

        BENNY
We ain’t even touched the
West Coast.

        CHARLEY
I’d rather have a pushcart
on Tenth Avenue than a
mansion in Hollywood.

        BENNY
Not me. LA’s for sale like
New York used to be.

        CHARLEY
Still is. You worried about
this Seabury? We can fix
him.

        MEYER
The guy’s grandfather was
best friends with George
Washington, Charley.

        CHARLEY
So what? We got just as
much right to be here as
he does.

He opens the door onto the music, the glamor. The GUESTS wave and urge them to “join the party.” Charley turns to Meyer.

        CHARLEY
You wanna leave all this for
some hick town in Arkansas?
Have a drink. Fall in love.

        MEYER
I gotta go home. My little
one’s sick again.

        CHARLEY
Go home, kiss your wife,
have a bicarbonate, you’ll
feel better in the morning…

As Meyer steps out, Davey Bettilo brings over DAVE MILLER, a pudgy pimp in a cashmere coat, very nervous about meeting the great Charley Luciano.

        BETTILO
This here’s Dave Miller from
Philly…

        MILLER
It’s an honor…

        CHARLEY
Yeah okay. Keep your girls
clean. Don’t beat ‘em up and
don’t feed ‘em too much hop
and don’t ever talk about me
to nobody ‘cause I’ll find out
if you do…

He spots Nancy Presser, hiding in the corner.

        CHARLEY
This shrinkin’ violet with
you?
(takes her by the arm)
In the spotlight, honey
you’re too pretty to hide.
(curtly to Miller)
The delivery boy don’t stay
for the party, pal…

Miller backs away, murmuring apologies.

        CHARLEY
What’s your name, honey?

        NANCY
Nancy Presser. I’m new to
this, Mr. Luciano…

        CHARLEY
Don’t worry Nancy, in your
business you don’t need
experience.

INT. LANSKY LIVING ROOM. NIGHT

A NEWSPAPER drops on the coffee table  On the front page, PHOTOS OF MEYER, BENNY  and CHARLEY. A HEADLINE reads:THE GANGSTERS WHO RULE NEW YORK.

        ANNE
(o.s., hysterical)
This new combination consists
of six notorious racketeers…

TILT UP to Anne in her bathrobe, wild eyed and disheveled. Meyer is trying desperately to placate her.

        ANNE
Charles “Lucky” Luciano,
Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel,
Meyer Lansky. What’s the
matter, Meyer, don’t you
rate a nickname?

        MEYER
From the first day we met
you knew what I did, Annie.

        ANNE
Gambling, you said. Nightclubs
with card games. And one day
it would all be legal.

        MEYER
It will be …

        ANNE
And the drugs. And the
killings? And all the
dirty things they do to
make a dollar.

OFF SCREEN, a BABY cries out.

        ANNE
You want to see how God
is punishing us, Meyer?

        LANSKY
(follows her)
Buddy will be fine., Annie.

INT. BEDROOM. NIGHT.

Dark. A few pale streaks of MOONLIGHT fall on the crib where the baby, BUDDY, lies thick METAL BRACES on both legs. Meyer and Anne look down at him with concern. Anne rocks the crib, whimpering:

        ANNE
He was spoiled, you said.
Let him cry himself to
sleep…

        MEYER
Annie, we’ll do everything
for him. There’s a pediatrician
in Boston, who specializes in
spinal problems…

        ANNE
He’s a cripple, Meyer and
he’ll be one all his life.
I only hope I die before I
see him in a wheelchair…

        MEYER
No one’s gonna die.

        ANNE
This is how much God hates
you, Meyer. He punished
your son for your sins.
This innocent little boy
who’ll live in pain for the
rest of his life is God’s
judgement on you…

Meyer looks down at his son, stricken with remorse.

INT. CHARLEY’S BEDROOM. NIGHT.

A short time later. Charley lies in bed in his yellow silk dressing gown, smoking a cigarette.

        CHARLEY
What happened, kid, you fall
in?

Nancy comes out of the bathroom in her slip.

        NANCY
I was fixin’ my face…

        CHARLEY
Powderin’ your nose, you mean.
(flips her a “ravioli”)
Knock yourself out…

        NANCY
(opening the package with
trembling fingers)
Thanks.

Charles rises and holds her hand steady.

        CHARLEY
Another farm girl goin’ to
hell in the big city. Where
you from?

        NANCY
Auburn. Way upstate.

        CHARLEY
Yeah, there’s a jail there.
What’s your story, your old
man throw you out ‘cause you
got knocked up?

        NANCY
I never knew my old man. My
mother had a boyfriend, who
kept pawin’ me. When I was
thirteen I took off.

        CHARLEY
So you been around more than
you look. That’s no reason
to start feelin’ sorry for
yourself.

        NANCY
Listen, I’ve had it pretty
tough.

        CHARLEY
Everybody in the rackets has
a story. You think I was born
in the Waldorf? My home town
in Sicily makes Auburn look
like Park Avenue. Sulfur mines.
A cloud of poison smoke that
kept out the sun. Kids who
didn’t get TB froze to death.
I came over on a freighter.
Five hundred people packed in
steerage. No windows, no water
to wash. I could take a bath
in perfume every day I’ll
never get that stink outta
my nose. People don’t
understand what we got in
this country. In Sicily you’re
born poor, you die broke.

        NANCY
I was born here and I’m
broke.

        CHARLEY
Cheer up, today’s your lucky
day
(hands her a roll of bills)
Don’t kick this back to
nobody.

        NANCY
Davey told me not to talk
money.

        CHARLEY
I don’t pay for sex. This
is for the conversation.
Anybody asks you, you’re
CL’s girl. Don’t let ‘em
stick you in them two
dollar joints, I’ll get
you into Bella Lewitzky’s
house With your kewpie doll
looks you’ll have those
Broadway guys eatin’ outta
your hand.

        NANCY
What’s the catch? Why you
bein’ so nice?

        CHARLEY
I like you. Other broads are
always puttin’ on an act. You
looked like you’ were gonna
bust out cryin’…

        NANCY
I was scared ‘cause they told
me you were the big boss…

        CHARLEY
I am. But I’m a lonely guy
in my own way. I need one
person I can be nice to
without worryin’ I’m gonna
get stabbed in the back.
(laughs at her glum expression)
Don’t worry, kid, any girl
who goes around with me
won’t be sorry…

INT. HOTEL SUITE.DAY

A big BUFFET, white-coated WAITERS poised to serve. A bevy of “showgirls”. Some doing their nails, others gossiping, others smoking and pacing. CHARLEY WORKMAN stands guard outside a door. A girl picks up a plate, but he cautions her:

        WORKMAN
Don’t touch the buffet.


Next: Part 18/Act 2 (Con’t): The Syndicate

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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