Tuesday, March 8, 2011

'Kill the Irishman' revisits Cleveland's explosive mob past

LATimes.com, 3.9.11
By Mark Olsen

A quick rundown of well-known Mafia cities brings to mind places like New York, Chicago and Las Vegas. But Cleveland? Fuhgeddaboutit …

But there was a time — back in the 1970s — when the Ohio city was a raging mobster battleground. And when it came time to take out a rival, locals did more than bring a gun to a knife fight; they came on big and loud with all manner of explosives, earning Cleveland the moniker Bomb City, USA.

At the center of it all was not an Italian but a charismatic Irish American, Danny Greene, who spent part of his childhood in an orphanage, grew up to be a dockworker, rose to union boss and went head to head with the Mafia for control of the city's underworld economy of gambling, racketeering and loan-sharking. His story is chronicled in the new film "Kill the Irishman," starring Ray Stevenson, Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer and Vincent D'Onofrio, which opens Friday.

"Cleveland would not be on your typical organized crime radar," said Rick Porrello, author of the book on which the film is based and now chief of police in the Cleveland suburb of Lyndhurst, where Greene was killed in 1977 by a car bomb. "But there were some pretty heavy hitters in the Midwest."

"That was a huge draw to me, that it was a mob story very powerfully and very conspicuously not set in Bensonhurst or Little Italy," said Jonathan Hensleigh, director and co-writer of "Kill the Irishman."

Stevenson, also in the upcoming "Thor" and "The Three Musketeers," takes on the title role. Needing to cast actors who could stand up to the 6-foot-4 Stevenson, Hensleigh half-jokingly referred to "Kill the Irishman" as "a movie of big men." Among the supporting players are Kilmer as a cop, Walken as rival mobster Alex "Shondor" Birns and D'Onofrio as Greene ally John Nardi.

Linda Cardellini and Laura Ramsey play Greene's wife and mistress, respectively, and the supporting cast is littered with character actors familiar from mob movies and TV shows such as "Goodfellas" and "The Sopranos."

The project got its start when Tommy Reid, a producer on the film, was attending Ohio State University in the mid-'90s. The New Jersey native heard stories from his college buddies about the rough streets of Cleveland but didn't believe them at first. After Reid landed in Los Angeles, a friend sent him a news story about Porrello's book and Reid optioned it even before it was published in 1998. (Reid also directed a documentary, "Danny Greene: The Rise and Fall of the Irishman," slated to be included on the DVD of "Kill the Irishman.")

Hensleigh, who previously directed "The Punisher" and worked as a screenwriter on movies such as "Die Hard: With a Vengeance" and "Armageddon," said Greene's story "was the classic cliché of life being stranger than fiction." After finishing Porrello's book, he recalled, "I said, 'I just have to do this.'"

Greene exhibited a bravado and media savvy that made him irresistible as a movie character. After Greene survived a bombing that essentially leveled his house, he put two mobile homes on the empty lot, one to live in and one to work in. He would then sit on a bench out front, essentially daring anyone to come and get him.
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List of films in production.

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]
An activist gets caught up in the labor movement for farm workers in California during the 1930s. Vincent....Al Anderson


A story about the early life of Tennessee Williams

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Vincent D'Onofrio, Jacob Loeb

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In a rural town in Southern Idaho, the Suzukis, a Japanese American family, run a small motel. One night they get a strange visitor who sports ‘city’ clothes who turns out to be the first African-American man that Toru Suzuki’s children have ever seen. Yoshiko takes it upon herself to solve the mystery about this man, especially when 2 police officers come knocking on their door.

Short film produced by Erika Hampson.
Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Foster.

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'Purgatory' [TBA]
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Director: Jennifer Lynch
Producer/Writer ...Eric Wilkinson

Vincent D'Onofrio ....George Lawson (GRACE's father)
Tim Roth.......Detective Tabb

Filming in St Louis - TBA

"Supreme Ruler" [TBA]

A man campaigns to become the leader of the Buffalo lodge.

Vincent D'Onofrio as Hank Dory
Ron Livingston as Steve
Marcia Gay Harden as Nancy

"The Monster Next Door" [TBA]

"The Monster Next Door" - Comedy Horror

Executive Produced by Dennis Johnson, Melanie Mohlman Produced by Eric Wilkinson, David Michaels
Written by Jim Robbins
Directed by Jennifer Lynch

Cast: Vincent D'Onofrio, Bill Pullman, French Stewart, Bill Moseley

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]
Vincent......Harvey Weinstein

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