Friday, October 9, 2020

Michael Cannell's "A Brotherhood Betrayed"

Michael Cannell is the author of four non-fiction books, most recently A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind the Rise and Fall of Murder, Inc.. His previous books are Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber and the Invention of Criminal Profiling, The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit and I.M. Pei: Mandarin of Modernism.

Cannell has worked as a reporter for U.P.I and Time, and as an editor for The New York Times. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and many other publications.

Here Cannell dreamcasts an adaptation of A Brotherhood Betrayed:
A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind the Rise and Fall of Murder, Inc is a preposterously cinematic story, rich with zoot-suited gangsters crashing nightclubs with blinged out chorus girls and bodies dumped from Pontiacs in the dark reaches of the Brooklyn waterfront.

For a decade the heavy-browed, jut-jawed Jewish mobster Abe Reles ran Murder, Inc., an assassination squad charged with eliminating informants. He was short with bulging Popeye arms and a manner so menacing that his presence intimidated everyone in the room. “There was something about Reles’s physical bearing, a look in his eye, that actually made the hair on the back of your neck stand up,” a district attorney said. His role would once have gone to Joe Pesci, but Pesci is too old to play it now. So let’s give it instead to the Irish actor Tom Hardy, provided he can pull off a plausible Brooklyn accent. I bet he can.

For Lucky Luciano, the scar-faced, cobra-eyed mob lord who rarely expressed any emotion, I’d tag the ever steely Daniel Craig. Luciano had a cold regal bearing, and that’s Craig’s stock in trade. I can picture him in a double-breasted suit ruling the mob’s coast-to-coast rackets from his suite in the Waldorf-Astoria and flying to Miami to bet on the horses surrounded by his bodyguards.

The prosecutor Thomas Dewey is a tougher question. With his wide handsome Midwestern face and well-tended dark mustache, Dewey could have been mistaken for a young Ernest Hemingway, though he had none of the author’s brash charisma. He was, in fact, stiff to the point of paralysis, even with family and friends. An aide remembered him as “cold, cold as a February icicle.” Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, said Dewey was as rigid as the “little man on a wedding cake.” The same qualities that made Dewey unpopular— a prim rectitude and bloodless efficiency — also made him a lethal prosecutor. What actor can convey Dewey’s combination of ambition and awkwardness? Let’s pitch it to Jake Gyllenhaal and see what he can do.
Learn more about the book and author at Michael T. Cannell's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Limit.

My Book, The Movie: Incendiary.

--Marshal Zeringue