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Purportedly true story of the affair between singer Phyllis McGuire, and Mafia boss Sam Giancana, famous for his alleged connections to John F Kennedy and Frank Sinatra. Written by
Duncan Shine <Shine@Telecall.Co.Uk>
Decent Attempt at a True Story Concerning Love and the Mob
She was a dazzling singer, part of a trio that dazzled the world over; he was a brutal mobster who lived in a world of death and violence. Sounds like an excellent work of fiction or the content of a good song, but alas, it actually is the real life case of the romance between Phyllis McGuire and Chicago gangster Sam Giancana, a story that is decently told in 1995's HBO film "Sugartime". Starring John Turturro and Mary Louise-Parker in the starring roles, it's a film that reasonably captures the 1960's, be it through the fashion, music, or especially the cars. The movie introduces us to the McGuire sisters, a song and dance trio that's taking the world by storm. While performing one night in a club, Phyllis, the lead singer, catches the eye of mobster Sam Giancana, and thus begins one of the most unusual relationships in pop culture history, as the two do their best to keep the relationship secret, but of course, it's only a matter of time before their secret affair is discovered, which will send their two worlds on a collision course they may never recover from.
While "Sugartime" may not be as good as say, films like "The Godfather" or "Goodfellas", it's not necessarily a bad film either. As someone who's done a lot of reading about Sam Giancana and the mob in general, I can honestly say the director and producers did a good job of trying to stay true to the original source material as much as can be possible in a movie. John Turturro does an fine job of bringing the persona of Sam Giancana to life on screen, bringing a sense of charm and charisma to the man but at the same time conveying the fact that violence and thuggery lurk just below the surface as well. Mary Louise Parker is radiant and wonderful in her interpretation of Phyllis McGuire, bringing a sense of Midwest charm to the character, and beauty too. Another bonus is the fairly well written dialogue of the film, particularly when it concerns Turturro's lines as Sam Giancana, which in some places, manage to be both foul, salty but somehow absolutely hysterically at the same time (Turturro's lines in the scene where Phyllis tells Sam she has to go to London and can't stay after Sam went to the trouble of building Venice, Italy on a lake in the Chicago suburbs comes to mind!). All that being said, the movie isn't perfect either, dragging in some places and at times, it feels that the combining of Sam's and Phyllis's two worlds was not as cohesive as perhaps it could have been. Also, those looking for a action-packed, blood soaked mob film might be disappointed, as the film covers more of the romance aspect than the gangster (That being said, the movie does contain a few particularly memorable, violent scenes). However, for anyone who has an interest in the mob and in particular, Sam Giancana himself, "Sugartime" is not a bad way to kill some time and take in a good story. And it's available on youtube. Also starring Elias Koteas.
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