Frequently Asked Questions
The movie is largely comprised of half-truths, urban legends, and rumors that circulated around the time of Dutch Schultz's death and which continued to be repeated amongst organized crime buffs for decades. A sampling of the historical inaccuracies in the film:
1) Thomas Dewey being bribed. No evidence exists to show that Thomas Dewey was ever "on the take" from the Mafia. It was Dewey's "Boy Scout" reputation and unflinching dedication to uphold the law--even if he didn't agree with it--that made Dewey so popular in his time and made him such a reviled figure in the criminal underworld. Dewey would eventually prosecute Charles "Lucky" Luciano successfully for prostitution.
2) Schultz hiring "axe men." Dutch Schultz was notorious in the underworld of the 1930s for carrying out his own murders as opposed to hiring hitmen to do the job for him, as was standard at the time. Though Schultz employed an army of "enforcers" to carry out attacks and sabotage businesses that refused to join the labor unions he ran, Schultz always either committed hits himself or contracted them to one of his personal henchmen, Bernard "Lulu" Rosenkrantz, Bo Weinberg, or Abe Landau.
3) Schultz's death. Schultz is depicted as knowing his killer; in fact, Schultz probably did not know Charlie "The Bug" Workman, the man who shot him. If Schultz knew him at all, it was only through mutual acquaintances. Further, Schultz's murder took place at night, in the presence of his bodyguards/hitmen Abe Landau and Lulu Rosenkrantz, and his accountant, Otto "Abbadabba" Berman. Schultz was in fact in the toilet when he was shot; according to Workman, he entered the bathroom of the chophouse while his partner, hitman Emmanuelle "Mendy" Weiss, waited in the bar; Workman shot Schultz, with the gunshot acting as the signal for Weiss to charge the back room where Berman, Landau, and Rosenkrantz were sitting. Weiss opened fire on the men with a shotgun, providing Workman with cover to exit the bathroom. Workman himself then opened fire on the men; autopsies demonstrated that it was probably Workman's bullets that mortally wounded Berman and Landau, while Rosenkrantz died as a combination of bullets and buckshot. Weiss then fled the restaurant while Workman re-entered the bathroom to rob Schultz; in the interim, Weiss ordered he and Workman's getaway driver, an individual known only as "Piggy," to flee the scene, since Workman was taking too long. Exiting the bathroom again, Workman discovered that he'd been abandoned and ended up escaping the scene on foot. After Workman left, Schultz, as depicted in the film, did in fact get up and walk out of the bathroom; the pose Tim Roth assumes upon falling on the table is the same position Schultz was found in by the first reporting officers to the scene.
4) Bumpy "winning." The most glaring historical error is the depiction of Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson "beating" Dutch Schultz in the end. In fact, Johnson lost the Harlem gang war to Schultz; Schultz's brutality, financial resources, and manpower proved to be too much for the Harlem mob to compete with, and they slowly disbanded their operations. Many of them, including Bumpy, ended up working for Schultz, either overseeing one of his various gambling operations or acting as loan sharks/enforcers.
He was terrified, both of Dutch himself and his lack of reaction to being shot 3 times. Dutch simply gets up, strolls back to his table and gives Lulu a very menacing grin. Lulu was so freaked out that he just turned and ran, though he succeeded in killing Dutch.
Bumpy convinces Bub Hewitt to join him and betray Dutch. Bumpy has a meeting with Lucky Luciano, saying he will lay down his arms and make peace with Dutch. Bumpy requested that Luciano's accountant meet with him, Luciano agrees, but Bumpy had Bub pay off Luciano's driver to tell Dutch about the meeting, so they could capture Luciano's accountant and ambush Bumpy in the meeting place. Of course Bumpy wasn't at the meeting place, which prompted Dutch to kill Johnny the accountant. This caused Luciano to order the hit on Dutch, he bribed Dutch's most trusted bodyguard Lulu Rosenkrantz to kill him. When the deed is done, Luciano kills Rosenkrantz instead of paying him off. Bumpy also gave a very large sum of money to Dewey to have him look the other way to all the violence that was occurring. So in the end, Lucky Luciano was duped into being a mere pawn in Bumpy Johnson's plan. Though in real life it was widely rumoured that Dutch was killed because of his planning to kill Thomas Dewey.