Thursday, May 9, 2013


I enjoyed Gangster Squad the movie. It's real loosely based on more or less real events. There was a Gangster Squad at LAPD back in those days, and Mickey Cohen was a real mobster that the LAPD did battle with. Of course, the real story is far less dramatic and in real life, the Gangster Squad existed for more than a decade and was not the free running unit it is in the movie.

Yet, I thought the screenplay was good, since I like the Dirty Harry variety of policing in my cop movies. It's been panned all over, but as I state below, I really enjoyed it. I watched it two days in a row, and I rarely watch a movie twice these days. The last movie I felt inclined to immediately watch again was the latest Bourne movie, which of course was without Bourne.

Nonetheless, the acting is really good. I hate to admit that I like Penn's acting. I liked him in his Jeff Spicoli days but since then his politics have overshadowed any liking I had for him. Still, I find his Cohen role compelling and well performed, because it's not hard to imagine him being a villain worthy of not liking. He actually  into some Pacino "Scarface" territory when Cohen utters the phrase "Makes me Giddy". 

When Cohen says that, it's scary... real scary.

Brolin plays a great WWII vet/hero turned cop. A devoted and honorable lawman. I especially like the John Patrick character of Hopalong, who is quick on the draw and shoots like Redford's Sundance Kid with his Colt SAA. The casting, wardrobe and of course the probably digital settings and scenes from days of old in LA were very well done. Certainly in a noir way, but well done.

I thought it better than other LA movies dealing with that era, like LA CONFIDENTIAL. A quick perusal of various movie critic sites showed they panned it. I disagree and give it five stars. Yeah, it does some rehashing of past flicks but it is well acted and the battles were well done. And with the great good triumphs against evil, sorta, well it's a time honored recipe for success.

There was a very good seven part series on Mickey Cohen and The Gangster Squad in the LA Times beginning in October of 2008. I was out in LA at the time, and read one of the stories in the series in the actual paper then caught the others online. Great writing and very interesting stuff from the history of America and LA.

It's a well written story and after I read one of the installments over breakfast one morning, later in the day when I had the chance I got online and read the rest of the seven installments and just thought it was excellent investigative reporting and writing. Well documented facts.

In the movie, cops, politicos and a judge are on the take from Cohen. Good does triumph over evil in the show, but it wasn't as clear cut in real life.

I'll be buying it soon, when the price drops, because I'll enjoy seeing it a few more times.

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