Cops Against Bad Guys in "Gangster Squad"

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A crime drama chronicling the LAPD's fight to keep East Coast Mafia types out of Los Angeles during the 1940s and 50s. Based on the Los Angeles Times' seven part series titled "Tales From the Gangster Squad", the film stars Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Josh Brolin & Giovanni Ribisi.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
October 24th, 2012

Cops Against Bad Guys in "Gangster Squad"

-- The eagerly awaited "Gangster Squad" movie, set to be released on Jan. 11, 2013, promises to make a great overview of the LAPD's efforts to rid the city of gangsters six decades ago. The movie is set in Los Angeles in 1949. During this time, Mickey Cohen (played by Sean Penn) is the reigning mob king and has hands in every vice in the city. Cohen, who was born in Brooklyn, is up to his neck in gun smuggling, prostitution, drug peddling, and all other kinds of vices.

He manages to pull off all his crimes with the protection from his hired goons, as well as corrupt police and politicians. His control of the local police and politicians is very intimidating, causing those who can stop him (or should stop him) to be too afraid to try. Then, the somewhat small and secretive crew of LAPD outsiders, led by Sgt. John O'Mara (played by Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (played by Ryan Gosling), enters the scene. This group is determined to wrestle the control of the city back from the mafia boss. The movie is all about the events that result from this group's attempt to topple one of the most dangerous mafia bosses in history.

The film is directed by Ruben Fleischer and written by Will Beall, and it also stars Nick Nolte as Police Chief Bill Parker and Emma Stone as Grace Faraday. It is interesting to note that this movie was originally set to be released on Sept. 7, 2012, but Warner Bros. Pictures bumped up its release to Jan. 11, 2013 due to the Aurora shooting incident.

In fact, the first trailer of the film was released on May 9, 2012. It included a scene in which some gangsters shoot at moviegoers (with submachine guns) through a Grauman's Chinese Theatre's screen. It was later decided that the scene would either be deleted or moved to a different setting. Actually, the production was reluctant to remove it completely because it formed a crucial part of the story that the movie was telling. There was also some speculation that there would be additional reshoots to accommodate the expected changes, and these were given as some of the reasons for the delayed release of the movie.

On Oct. 12, 2012, a second trailer was released without the movie-theatre shooting scene. However, this is not the only significant change in the movie's trailer. It also gives a lot of focus on romance. It shows a meeting between Wooters and Faraday-a meeting lighted by car headlamps and gun muzzle flash. Deceived by the former as a Bible salesman, Faraday falls into the cop's bed only to end the just-beginning relationship when she learns of his true identity. The trailer ends with Cohen's chilling warning: "You're gonna be beggin' for a bullet before it's over."

Photography was commenced on Sept. 6, 2011 in Los Angeles. The filming was finished on Dec. 15, 2011. It has had many different sets strewn all over the county from south of the border to the north, near the San Fernando Valley. Additional sets were located in the Sony Studios in Culver City.

Beall was once an LAPD employee and served as a one-time executive story editor cum writer for "Castle." He reportedly based the movie's screenplay on a collection of "LA Times" about the real-life head of mafia and how LAPD attempted to deal with him. These articles were written by Paul Lieberman. This is not the first production based on Cohen's life, and it probably won't be the last. He is also the inspiration for the "L.A. Noir" television series, created by Frank Darabont, well known for his creation of "The Walking Dead" TV show.

If the trailer is anything to go by, then the movie is going to be great. The cast members look to have fitted their parts nicely, and this cops-and-crooks drama is reminiscent of the action in "American Gangster" and even "Public Enemies." As a crime tale about gangsters, it certainly has to be good because its company is not that easy to keep up with. Anybody who has watched "The Untouchables" will agree that any movie in the same vein has to be near perfect.

Fleischer is an accomplished director, however, having directed the very successful "Zombieland." The cast members are also seasoned artists. Brolin is remembered for his parts in "No Country for Old Men," "W," "True Grit," and "Milk." The award-winning Gosling has "Drive," "Crazy Stupid Love," and "The Ides of March" under his belt. Who can forget Stone's role in "Zombieland" and "The Amazing Spider-Man?" With this kind of cast, "Gangster Squad" is definitely set to be great.