Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury

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  • Topic: Gangs of New York, New York City, Tammany Hall
  • Pages : 9 (3486 words )
  • Download(s) : 409
  • Published : January 5, 2006
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THE GANGS OF NEW YORK, written by Herbert Asbury, was used as the basis for the movie GANGS of NEW YORK, a gangster film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio. Filmed in Rome, Gangs covers a period of New York City's history, from the 1840's through to the bloody Draft Riots of 1863, at a time when graft and corruption permeated every level of government including the police department. The movie's main plot revolves around revenge and the feuding between the gangs controlling the Bowery and the Five Points area of lower Manhattan and culminates with the Civil War draft riots. The two major political parties, Tammany Hall (Democratic based) and the Native Americans (Know-Nothing Party), used gangs as enforcers for the plundering of public funds and to gain control of the city. The movie is a fictional drama loosely based on actual historical events and figures. The depictions in the movie showing the discrimination against the Irish immigrants, the draft riots and the backdrop of New York City circa 1860's were fairly representative of real events. The script writers rearranged history in order to present as many interesting characters and events as is possible within a two hour and 40 minute time frame. The characters in the movie were either fictional, such as Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz), Amsterdam Vallon (Leo DiCaprio) and Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson), or fictionalized versions of real people. The feel and flavor of New York City during the middle 1800's was captured by the movie through the use of excellent cinematography and the creation of a movie set based on actual photographs of the real Five Points. Four of the main characters: William "Bill the Butcher" Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), Boss Tweed (Jim Broadbent), Happy Jack (John C. Reilly), and Monk McGinn (Brendan Gleeson) were based on actual people but they existed in different time frames. William Cutting was based on William Poole "Bill the Butcher", a real butcher with a shop in Washington Market, who lived in New York City from 1832 until his murder in 1855 by Lew Baker. The real William did not have a glass eye with an eagle on it and did not directly kill anyone although he may have maimed a few men. He resided in a nice little brownstone on Christopher Street (outside of the Five Points) and for a brief period, owned his own saloon, on the corner of Howard and Broadway. For more information on William's background, click on William Poole's background (Bill The Butcher). The character of Happy Jack was based on Happy Jack Mulraney, a volatile and murderous member of the Gophers, who had a permanent grin on his face due to partial paralysis of the facial muscles. Happy Jack was very sensitive about his deformity and murdered a saloon owner, Paddy the Priest, for making a casual remark about his one-sided grin. The Gophers existed around the late 1890's and early 1900's and were contemporaries of Monk Eastman and Paul Kelly (Paolo Vaccarelli). The Gopher's territory was in the part of Manhattan known as Hell's Kitchen and covered the area from 7th to 11th avenues and from 14th to 42nd streets. Owney Madden, an emigrant from Liverpool, England, was once a Gopher commander of the faction known as the Tenth Street Gang. Owney would go on to become co-owner of the Cotton Club in Harlem and one of New York City's kingpins of bootlegged liguor during Prohibition. Monk McGinn (Brendan Gleeson) was based on Monk Eastman (Edward Osterman), a Jewish gangster, who was born around 1873 in Brooklyn and died in New York City in 1920, murdered by a corrupt Prohibition enforcement agent (not by Bill the Butcher). Monk had his own gang, called the Eastmans, of more than twelve hundred warriors. For more information on Monk, click on Monk Eastman. Boss Tweed, played by Jim Broadbent, is the only character in the movie who comes closest to portraying an actual historical figure within the movie's time frame. William "Boss" Tweed was...
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