Peter Bart: Gangster Movies Return In Big Way In 2019, Awakening Genre From Its Hollywood Dirt Nap

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Peter Bart: Gangster Movies Return In Big Way In 2019, Awakening Genre From Its Hollywood Dirt Nap
Billy Wilder once observed that the best way to cast a gangster movie was to tour executive offices at the studios. That may be one reason he avoided the genre. Despite Wilder’s apprehensions, the two most anticipated 2019 releases — from Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, no less — harken back to that revered genre. As such, they may revive the question: Why did Hollywood all but abandon their mobsters?

Ironically, two newly published books that have nothing to do with the Scorsese and Tarantino movies remind us of the reasons: Gangster movies, it seems, began to hit too close to home. New nonfiction biographies of Johnny Rosselli and W.R. (Billy) Wilkerson provide vivid details of the scandalously close ties between the studio chiefs and organized crime from the 1930s through 1950s, and later. As such, they serve as intriguing context for the new entries.

Scorsese’s $200 million The Irishman, starring
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