Warner Bros, Hollywood’s famous home of the classic American gangster picture, the studio that made James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart bigger than the tommy-gun, pin-stripe suit wearing real life villains they were portraying – are hot right now on two projects they hope will revive a forgotten genre. One appropriately titled Tales From The Gangster Squad and the other a straight laced biopic of the notorious Al Capone.
Firstly – WB are looking to bring Paul Lieberman’s series of 2008 articles in the L.A. Times concerning the ‘off-the-record’ and questionable L.A.P.D. of the 1940′s and their influence from the East Coast Mafia to the screen, and now the project is finally taking shape after six months of trying as a greenlight has been handed out.
Deadline say multiple Oscar winner Sean Penn has been offered the role of Mickey Cohen, a violent muscle man for infamous criminal Al Capone and that Ryan Gosling is to be offered one of the two cops roles wholly determined to bring him down. Now there’s an actor’s showcase if I ever saw one!
Tales From The Gangster Squad has been adapted by former L.A. cop turned novelist Will Beall and after trying to court all A-list directors they could think of last year, including Ben Affleck, Darren Aronofksy and Paul Greengrass – WB eventually settled on Zombieland helmer Ruben Fleischer to direct, who seemed hungry enough to bring a new entry into the 30′s rat-a-tat genre.
Cohen would be a great role for Penn – a charismatic and short tempered psycho, whose vices were sex (he would frequently have a girl on his arm) and extortion and he could snap at any minute. He became someone the L.A.P.D. had to take down when he started killing innocent bystanders.
But we must keep in mind, Penn will get offered a dozen projects a day, so an offer is far from a firm deal going down. Same goes for Gosling, who is already attached to a remake of Logan’s Run (with his Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn) that could be a go project this year.
Meanwhile, WB’s desire to revive the classic gangster picture doesn’t end with Cohen. There’s also word of a solo biopic based on his boss, Al Capone, that’s in the works…
WB are attempting to court David Yates, director of their latter day Harry Potter sequels to helm a biopic of Al Capone, said to be in the vein of the real classics – The Public Enemy, Little Caesar and Angels With Dirty Faces. The movie would follow the rise of Capone during prohibition in Chicago and eventually being taken down because, of all things, tax evasion.
The movie was picked up from a script by Walon Green (The Wild Bunch) originally titled ‘Cicero’ but will probably end up with a title much more dynamic and memorable when all is said and done.
Yates isn’t exactly the first name we would think of to direct a Capone biopic, but hell, if he’s a fan of the classics and thinks he can do something with this, then we are all for it. And besides, Capone has always been a great actor’s showcase….
Most recently with Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire (note – he was also awesome as Baby Faced Nelson in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies)…
Robert De Niro in The Untouchables!!!
Jason Robards in Roger Corman’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre!
Rod Steiger in Al Capone…
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