Call it a Cleveland Goodfellas without the glitz.
Kill the Irishman gets so much right: the guys and their clothes and the grittiness of those parts of this town in that era. The filmmakers didn't try to stylize the scenes or the bombings with tricky camera angles and the resulting realism serves the based-on-a-true-story content perfectly. Ray Stevenson absolutely nails the role of Danny Greene. The Celtic music lacing the score is simply wonderful.
Oh for chrissake. If for no other reason, go to see the cars.
|Shondor Birns' bombed out 1975 Lincoln Continental Mark IV|
courtesy of CSU's Michael Schwartz Library, special collections
I was just a kid in the mid-1970's when the mob bombings took over Cleveland, but I surely remember that Mafia guy getting blown to bits on 25th Street (photo above). For months and months after the killing, I'd peer out the car window looking for an overlooked finger or spatter of blood every time we drove through the intersection of 25th and Detroit. The mobsters were at once a world away and in my backyard, murky in the background and bloody before my eyes.
courtesy of CSU's Michael
Schwartz Library, special
Okay, fine. It's just another Cleveland injustice. I'll swallow it whole and move on. And for the most part the filming locale worked seamlessly. Old time Clevelanders, however, will know where the filmmakers have dropped a stitch.
Take the Theatrical.
Completely unlike it was portrayed in Irishman, the Theatrical was a legendary club on Short Vincent. It was big and brash with a huge kidney shaped bar that surrounded an elevated stage. The club was housed in one cavernous room, with tables and booths flanking that incredible bar. Giant figures graced the two-story walls: demure chicks in hoop skirts and devilishly exaggerated harlequin men lunging for them. There was a coat check. Attendants in the ladies' lounge handed you a towel and made sure the bottles of hand cream and cologne were properly arranged.
|The Theatrical on Short Vincent|
During college breaks, I pushed beers at a weird little joint called the Park Pub in the basement of what is now Reserve Square apartments. I used to go braless and wear cute little outfits with high heels in order to garner better tips (sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't). When my shift was over I would occasionally sashay over to the Theatrical to meet a friend or wait for my ride. The bar proper had four sections, each serviced by a regular bartender who was as legendary as the Theatrical itself. Everyone had their favorite. I always sat in Jim's section. I'd settle in as he'd straighten from his perfect bar lean, amble over and snap open his Zippo to light my Marlboro before pouring me a big icy tumbler of Canadian Club and soda.
"Hey Jim, can I have a paper and pencil?"
"Sure thing, girlie."
Girl from Ipanema? I'd jot on the paper, then hand it to Jim, who would in turn deliver it to the house pianist, who, if he had no other requests pending, would stop in the middle of whatever he was playing and start playing Girl from Ipanema.
On his break, the pianist (whose name I am purposefuly omitting) would ask me to dance. We'd step onto the dance floor and start swaying to and fro. He wasn't terribly attractive, but his sexuality was unmistakable as his cologne wafted between us. The fabric of his suit against my chin felt formal and expensive. When he'd pull me close, I'd look up into his eyes.
"Your lips are less then an inch from my own," he once remarked.
Perhaps not surprisingly, he would become aroused during these interludes, which were as pure and erotic as anything I can recollect. He would push hard into my torso as we moved ever-so-slowly against one another. He never once kissed me.
That's what it was like. Back then. At the Theatrical. In Cleveland.
yeah, yeah, yeah ...
And a few endnotes on Kill the Irishman:
-The Goat grew up in Lyndhurst, just down the road from where Greene was murdered. The Goat's dad grew up in rough-n-tumble Collinwood, Greene's notorious stomping grounds.
-Some documentary footage from Cleveland Mafia historian Rick Porrello.
-Comprehensive coverage with photos and video from WEWS.
-To the editorial team of Irishman: Why the hell didn't you cut the kids at the end? You really really should have cut out the kids at the end.
Now go and see the movie. You will not regret one minute of it.
|The aftermath of the car bombing that killed Greene in Oct. 1977|
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October 1977 bomb photo and Theatrical Restaurant photo also courtesy of CSU's Michael Schwartz Library, special collections and credited at the bottom of this post because the IT Department here at the Offices of Erin O'Brien was unable to properly caption them.
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