24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Gangster Movies

'Gangster Squad' trailer highlights L.A. landmarks

May 14, 2012 |  1:30 pm

The first trailer for "Gangster Squad" reveals that the upcoming period mafia movie's biggest star may not be a fedora-clad Ryan Gosling or a fatally pouty Emma Stone, but the gritty city of Los Angeles.

Directed by Ruben Fleischer and based on a series of Los Angeles Times articles called "Tales from the Gangster Squad" by Paul Lieberman, "Gangster Squad" depicts an elite Los Angeles Police Department crew charged with keeping East Coast mafia man Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) and his gang from taking over 1940s and '50s L.A.

Shot in and around the city late last year, the film also stars Gosling, Josh Brolin, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Patrick, Anthony Mackie and Michael Pena as members of the squad.

"Los Angeles is a damsel in distress and I need you to save her," a gravel-voiced Bill Parker (Nick Nolte) says to John O'Mara (Brolin) in the action-heavy trailer, which features shots of downtown L.A.'s City Hall, a gunfight inside Grauman's Chinese Theater, an explosion on the L.A. River, a CGI-altered Hollywood, a Craftsman and a Spanish-style home and the cover of the L.A. Examiner.

The trailer also reveals a peek inside Slapsy Maxie's, a popular 1940s and '50s Hollywood nightclub that the filmmakers re-created inside an abandoned grocery store in Bellflower.

"Gangster Squad" is due in theaters later this year.




L.A. Noir: Tales From the Gangster Squad

Did Mickey Cohen really own Slapsy Maxie's nightclub?

'The Gangster Squad': When good guys acted like bad guys to save L.A.


--Rebecca Keegan


Photo: Michael Pena, Ryan Gosling, Robert Patrick, Anthony Mackie and Josh Brolin in "Gangster Squad." Credit: Wilson Webb/Warner Bros. Pictures.

'Tales From the Gangster Squad' pinpoints its target

November 10, 2010 |  6:52 pm


EXCLUSIVE: Amid all things superhero conjured up by the movie business these days, "Tales From the Gangster Squad" is a refreshing exception.

As my colleague Patrick Goldstein wrote this summer, this story of the Los Angeles Police Department  fighting gangland wars and trying to stem the invasion of East Coast Mafia in the 1940s and '50s is a  complicated tale filled with colorful characters -- an origin story, in a sense, of modern Los Angeles.

Or as producer Dan Lin told Goldstein, it's "The Untouchables" on the streets of L.A.

But bringing that kind of story to the screen in today's Hollywood isn't easy.  Which may be why Lin, producer Kevin McCormick and studio Warner Bros. are moving very deliberately in choosing the person to do that -- and showing some imagination as they do.

Rather than considering the usual suspects and hired hands, producers are in discussions with Ruben Fleischer, who's best known from "Zombieland', two sources familiar with those discussions said. (One can only imagine how a man who tracked trigger-happy gunslingers fighting the undead in a post-apocalyptic world will interpret the battle of cops vs. gangsters in a pre-apocalyptic Southern California.)

If that wasn't a bold enough choice, producers, the sources said, are also talking to Jose Padilha. If you haven't heard of him, you may soon enough. Padilha is the young and well-regarded auteur behind the Portugese-language "Elite Squad," which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival several years ago with its story of crime and corruption on the streets of 1990s-era Rio de Janeiro -- a Rio, incidentally, that has a few similarities with the colorful chaos of midcentury L.A.

[Update 7:18 pm: And "Crazy Heart" director Scott Cooper is also in the mix. So the directors behind a country-music drama, a zombie movie, and a Brazilian action film -- it really doesn't get more diverse than that.]

Conceived as an action movie with humor and snappy dialogue, "Gangster Squad" is based on Los Angeles Times reporting. (Not that we're implying a connection.)

Original drama with commercial hooks struggle to get made even with the biggest filmmakers and stars (see under: the many years it took Mark Wahlberg to get "The Fighter" made). Producers are, it seems, trying to get this one going with some young blood and fresh vision. We'll see if they can dodge the firing squad.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: The L.A.P.D. investigating the 1949 shooting of gangster Mickey Cohen. Credit: Los Angeles Times


The inside story on the 'Gangster Squad' movie


Warner Bros. goes gangster

June 29, 2010 | 11:35 am

Those hankering for more "Departed"-like movies from Hollywood -- original movies with well-paced action, a strong sense of place and a cross-section of colorful characters -- will probably get their itch tickled when "The Town," Ben Affleck's Boston-set crime drama, hits in the fall.

Now it looks as if they could be getting another scratch as "Tales from the Gangster Squad," an action movie conceived as an ensemble piece for a group of top-level actors, picks up momentum.

The film, based on a series of 2008 articles in the Los Angeles Times by Paul Lieberman, examines an LAPD unit that's set up in the 1940s to fend off the growing influence of the East Coast Mafia in the city. Of course the police group becomes very powerful, the battles with the Mafia escalate, and mayhem and betrayals ensue. (You can read Lieberman's series here.)

Sources say that Will Beall, an up-and-coming writer (he wrote a novel called "L.A. Rex" that Scott Rudin optioned, and which Beall then adapted for Rudin) was hired as the "Gangster Squad" screenwriter and has just completed his draft of the script. The film has a strong pedigree: it's set up at Warner Bros., which has made a cottage industry out of textured gangster pictures with both "Departed" and "The Town," and is being produced by Dan Lin and Kevin McCormick (who as Warners studio executives worked on "The Departed").[UPDATE -- Yes, "The Departed" is a remake of a Hong Kong movie. We saw that film, 'Infernal Affairs.' We liked it a lot. But Scorsese's version was still original by many definitions of the term -- it's not a remake of anything the great majority of its audience saw or were previously familiar with, as many Hollywood blockbusters are (and which was very clearly the movies we were contrasting it  with here). And the director's take, as well as Bill Monaghan's script, offered much of its own spin and interpretation. As did the actors. So yes, it's based on an obscure film. And it's an original.]

"Gangster Squad" is conceived as a vehicle with big stars a la "The Departed," though for non-remake movies at the studios these days budget is always a priority, so it's an open question how many high-priced types will be able to come on, and at what price. Look for a well-known director to come on board too (no names yet, but filmmakers and their representatives are beginning to get wind of it).

A year ago this week brought the last entry in the big-budget studio gangster movie, Michael Mann's "Public Enemies," a movie that was a creative disappointment and also didn't earn back its hefty budget. But that was more of a character piece than an action movie. At the right budget and with a healthy amount of thrills and action, "Gangster Squad," mob pictures in general and even the anti-remake boomlet could be back on the streets.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: LAPD officers inspecting the scene after a drive-by shooting. Credit: Los Angeles Times file photo


Ben Affleck hits The Town

The Gangster Squad sells to WB

Crusaders in the Underworld: The L.A.P.D. takes on organized crime

The Departed Arrives

Michael Mann and Johnny Depp make art of Dillinger
Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: