Posts Tagged ‘Gangsters’

The Wannabe, Crimezine, Tony Bulmer

The Wannabe star Thomas, [Vincent Piazza] goes postal. Patricia Arquette recommends the Weaver stance.

Oh dear, Crimeziners. You know how excited we get when a gangster film pops off the Hollyweird production line. Plenty excited. More excited than NRA mouthpiece Wayne LaPierre waking up on xmas morning to find out that he has a big box of full-auto M16s under the xmas tree.

The fact that Mr. LaPierre gets a big box of guns under his Christmas tree every single Xmas is as existentially meaningless as the life of The Wannabe star Thomas, [Vincent Piazza] a young man whose moonish existence is consumed by dreams of becoming an associate of New York Crime boss John Gotti.

Poor Thomas. The kid is an inveterate loser with zero charm, whose delusional outlook conjures a fleeting nexus with that giant of existential psychosis Travis Bickle. Unlike De Niro’s Bickle, Thomas is a gutless bottom feeder, who quite literally pisses in his pants at the first sign of gunplay. This film is relentlessly depressing, with few—if any, redeeming moments.

That’s right Crimeziners, you are going to have to dry-swallow a handful of happy pills to make your world come good again after watching this cavalcade of doom and gloom. Based on a true story, screams the headline, as though this somehow gives the story legitimacy. Do we care? Frankly No.

The big barrel of New York gangster crime was scraped clean decades ago. The Wannabe licks hungrily at the lid of that empty barrel and the result is cinematic halitosis of a quite unappetizing variety.

Even the appearance of the gorgeous and prodigiously talented Patricia Arquette fails to raise the pulse of this flat-lining farce of a movie. The fact that she is forced throughout, to wear a wig so unlikely that not even John Travolta would be caught down the morgue in it is emblematic of the level of disaster that we are dealing with.

On the bright side, Crimeziners will be excited to note that the awesome Michael, Sopranos, Detroit 187 Imperioli is involved; but unfortunately, only in a cameo capacity. In Los Angeles this week Imperioli was in town with actor/director Nick Sandow and Vinnie Piazza to promote The Wannabe. He mumbled valiantly about Marty Scorsese and classic crime films, going to so far as to bracket Sandow in the same cinematic category. Unfortunately, that just ain’t the case.

You just know that Mean Streets and Bonnie and Clyde came up at the pitch meeting for this film; trouble is The Wannabe doesn’t come close to either. Gangsters. We love them, there used to be a time they stood for something—an outlaw breed, fierce and loyal, their lives filled with dangerous glamour—their bright and deadly career trajectory filled with excitement—something anyone who wanted it bad enough could achieve. The Wannabe tells us that is no longer possible. It tells us gangsters are no longer sexy. No one likes being told they aren’t sexy. Right Crimeziners?

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George Raft Crimezine

George Raft the gangster’s gangster

Gangsters, everybody loves them Crimeziners. But who or what is responsible for this state of affairs—the Great Depression, Prohibition, or the shoot out sensationalism of 30s and 40s Hollywood? There can be no doubt that a confluence of these notorious times led to the rise of the gangster, but one man more than any other embodied the gangster legend.

Meet George Raft, a man who lived out the fast times and dangerous glamour of the New York underworld—famed for his roles in such classic movies as Scarface, Each Dawn I Die and the 1935 adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s Glass Key, Raft hit Hollywood by a route even more wild and compelling than that told by his success on the silver screen.

Rising out of Hell’s Kitchen New York City in the 1920’s, Raft was a smalltime boxer and baseball player, working his way through tough times anyway he knew how. He was childhood friends with many gangster legends, including Owney “the killer” Madden leader of the ruthless Gopher gang, and Benny—don’t call me Bugsy—Siegel. Always coy about his connections with the mob, Raft confessed to knowing such notorious names as Al Capone and racketeering legend Arnold Rothstein, but maintains he himself did nothing more than run bootleg liquor for the Madden mob.

A slick mover, Raft also made a mint as a dancehall lothario with pal and future screen legend Rudolph Valentino. The dance hall gigs proved a lucky break for Raft leading to a showbiz life several worlds away from his seedy gangster past. He never forgot his roots however and utilized his personal knowledge of the underworld’s most dangerous movers and shakers in his many film roles.

Now I know you are anxious to hear all the stories aren’t you Crimeziners? How Raft met Al Capone and what Capone’s verdict on the movie Scarface was? How Raft made Humphrey Bogart by turning down roles in The Maltese Falcon and High Sierra? How Raft seduced Betty Grable, Marlene Dietrich and Mae West? How despite all these affairs, and being the most sought after male lead in Hollywood he could never marry the woman he loved—how his relationship with Bugsy Siegel came back to haunt him and nearly ended his life?

Teasing Crimeziners. If you want to know all this and more, you will have to read Lewis Yablonsky’s book, George Raft. This excellent tome dishes the dirt on Raft’s crime connections, gives fascinating insights into the birth of Hollywood and the gangster movie; it also sets the social scene for these crimetastic events with perhaps the greatest gangster actor Hollywood ever saw.

So, if you want to get in at ground zero of the American gangster legend and find out how it all started, this is the book for you. The painful demise of Raft is also covered in some detail—but his death from Leukemia in 1980 is omitted Crimezine thinks it is high time for a new edition with an updated conclusion—sadly this update is unlikely, as acclaimed Sociologist Yablonsky died in 2014. Like gangsters? Buy this book today.

http://www.amazon.com/George-Raft-Lewis-Yablonsky/dp/0070722358/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Crimezine George Raft

George Raft Scarface, Hollywood’s greatest gangster