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In the Dark

Top of the World, Ma

Black Mass
Produced by Cross Creek Pictures 
Directed by Scott Cooper 
Screenplay by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth,
based on the book Black Mass, by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill 
Distributed by Warner Brothers 

Ever since The Great Train Robbery flashed on the screen in 1903, Americans have been enthralled by gangster movies.  They not only are exciting but provide a safe way to vent tribal and social tensions.

I first realized this in 1959 when I went with two Italian friends to see Rod Steiger in Al Capone.  We responded to the movie according to our ethnic and social backgrounds.  My friends were Brooklyn natives, while I had recently moved into their neighborhood from a Long Island suburb.  Upon leaving the theater, one of my friends, Eddie, allowed that he had liked the movie well enough but was disappointed that it had left out all the good Capone had done.  “Good?” I asked naively.  Well, yes, Eddie continued.  True, Capone had an unfortunate habit of using lethal force against his adversaries and, furthermore, corrupted police and politicians and also encouraged prostitution.  On the other hand, his wealth and luxurious lifestyle declared him a second-generation immigrant success story.  Naturally, he lifted the morale of working people while providing...

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