Five months after it was initially slated for release, “Gangster Squad” finally hits the big screen this week. Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin and Nick Nolte headline an all-star cast in this stylish neo-noir period piece that recalls the glory of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Loosely based on a true story, the film tells the tale of a secret squad of off-duty policemen who go up against Mickey Cohen, the ruthless mobster who runs the town. We all know the “Gangster Squad” won’t give up without a fight, but here’s Five Film Facts you might not know.
Tougher than Fiction
1. Two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn plays nefarious gangster Mickey Cohen. While the film isn’t a biopic by any means, the Jewish mobster certainly led an enthralling enough life to merit one. Cohen was born in Brooklyn, New York, then moved to LA when he was six. Cohen’s brother ran a gin-mill during prohibition; young Mickey was in charge of delivering the goods, which is where he learned how to fight. He fell in love with boxing, moved back east to be a pro-fighter, but decided to change career paths after being beaten to a bloody pulp. Cohen found plenty of work as a thug for hire, eventually arriving in Chicago to work for Al Capone. After surviving a hit unscathed, Cohen moved back to LA to team up with Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, the glossy gangster portrayed by Warren Beatty in “Bugsy” (Harvey Keitel played Cohen). Together, Siegel and Cohen changed the face of organized crime on the west coast, controlling drugs, gambling, unions, and politics, among other dastardly deeds. In 1961, Cohen was brought down on charges of tax evasion and sentenced to 15 years in Alcatraz where he was partially paralyzed after being beaten by an inmate with a lead pipe.
Crazy, Stupid Chemistry
2. Gosling and Stone are no strangers to steaming up the big screen, as we clearly saw in the hit rom-com, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” (2011). “Gangster Squad” reunites the duo for some more scintillating pillow-talk. But wouldn’t you think Stone’s boyfriend Andrew Garfield is getting a bit jealous? Judging from Garfield’s comments last summer to Jay Leno, it would seem he completely understands why Stone is attracted to projects with Gosling: “He’s just a dreamboat. It’s un-debatable. He’s just stunning. Not only physically, but in terms of talent—a general sex appeal that he has.” You can see the Gossling and Stone’s obvious chemistry in the trailer above.
Good Place to Start
3. Stone is getting lots of buzz for the sultry retro look she takes on to play aspiring starlet Grace Faraday. But nothing comes from nothing. Stone took inspiration from a number of the leading ladies of the time. "Like Vivien Leigh and Rita Hayworth, and Lauren Bacall was a really major one, obviously, because I'm sure people had told Grace that they reminded her of Lauren Bacall, because I hear that with my voice," Stone told ABC News.
4. As of now, “Gangster Squad” is probably best known for the scene that’s not in the movie: A shootout that takes place in Grauman’s Chinese Theater. After James Holmes allegedly shot up a packed theater in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012, “Gangster Squad” filmmakers decided to cut the key scene and replace it with a new one, which they had to reshoot at a cost of several million dollars. So instead of being released on September 7, 2012, as originally intended, the film isn’t being released until this weekend. “It's still a violent replacement. It just happens in Chinatown. It's just as violent. It just doesn't remind you of this thing that happened. It's probably going to anyway because everyone knows it's been replaced," Josh Brolin told AP.
5. Nolte plays hard-boiled police chief “Whiskey Bill” Parker, the man responsible for putting the Gangster Squad together. But this isn’t Nolte’s first time donning a fedora. In “Mullholland Falls” (1996), Nolte plays the leader of the Hat Squad, a group of LAPD tough guys in the early 50’s who, according to critic extraordinaire Roger Ebert, “were four beefy middle-age guys who drove around in a black Buick convertible, wearing fedoras and chain-smoking, and throwing guys, mostly bad guys, over cliffs.” So basically, they were hardened cops who went outside the law to bring justice to people who thought they were above the law. Sound familiar?