Monday 23 April 2018

Paddy-whacked: Scorsese's Irish connection

La Cosa Nostra may be the Italians' "our thing", but over the decades -- as Martin Scorsese's mob flicks have shown -- plenty of Irish American gangsters have helped the Mafia with their dirty work.

From Goodfellas to The Departed, Scorsese has documented the very worst of the Irish mob, which flourished on the east coast of America during the early 19th Century and remains one of the oldest organised crime groups in the country.

When filming begins on The Irishman, the movie will be Robert De Niro's ninth collaboration with Scorsese -- having worked with the famed director on hit classics including Taxi Driver and Raging Bull -- and his second chance to play an Irish American mobster.

In 1990, De Niro played Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas, based on the real-life Irish American gangster Jimmy Burke -- known as The Big Irishman -- who is believed to have organised the Lufthansa heist in 1978.

In Scorsese's The Departed, Jack Nicholson played Irish mobster Frank Costello, who plants an informant within the Massachusetts State Police while the brass try to infiltrate Costello's own gang.

But perhaps Scorsese's finest Irish moment came with the St Patrick's Day episode of his HBO directed television series Boardwalk Empire, which chronicles prohibition in Atlantic City in the 1920s.

Lead character Enoch "Nucky" Johnston throws a party, with little people dressed as leprechauns. The dinner descended into chaos when the Irish born and Irish Americans began to argue about who was doing the most for Irish independence.

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