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Movies You Will Never See/Empires of Crime/Part 6 - Getting Some Class

*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/Getting Some Class  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

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 visit heywoodgould.com