From start to finish, it's a story of friendship between 4 street-wise males who don't mind using violence to achieve the lives that they want. They trust no one but each other which is vital to their success as mobsters.
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The film focuses on the war of two gangs in 1930s Harlem for the control of illegal gaming - one headed by black strategic godfather Bumpy Johnson and another by white ruthless hothead Dutch Schultz. Negotiations proposed by white syndicate boss Lucky Luciano never get under way, blood flows and Johnson gets jailed. When Johnson is paroled, he gets the work of enforcer for mighty Stephanie "The Queen" St. Clair. She is also jailed for racketeering and when she leaves she makes him promise "no violence". Written by
Dutch says to Lucky: "I'm going to the library. I'm going to take out that book "How to #*%& friends and irritate people." Here he is parodying the popular self-help book by Dale Carnegie, "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Published in 1936 and an instant best-seller, the book would have been discussed widely in social circles during the time of the film, hence why Lucky smirked when he heard the joke. See more »
While Bumpy and Madame St. Claire are listening to opera on the Victrola, the record playing displays the Okeh label. Okeh Records, founded in 1918 recorded mainly middle-of-the road popular music, standards, light classical and blues, but not opera. See more »
I remember the days when you could get a guy hit for 40 bucks.
We live in inflationary times
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I really enjoyed this film. As far as crime dramas go it is up there with The Godfather to me. Laurence Fishburne was great in his role as Bumpy Johnson. Tim Roth gave a great performance also.
The film did a great job portraying the inner turmoil of people. Also it did a great job at showing the racist attitudes of the times. Example: Dutch asking his main guy, who is black to wrap up his (shultz) sandwich scraps so that he (the black guy) could take them home to feed his grandkids. Classic subtle racism.
The clothes and the music were also good for the period. One scene was even shot at the cotton club which no movie during this period is complete without.
Great Job! Great Film!
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