This is the first of my “Bogart” postings. But, tease that I am, I’m going to wait to talk about this dandy dude. Instead, let’s talk about Murder, Inc.– the inspiration for The Enforcer.
The Enforcer is the probably the first Mafia movie, literally. Prior to The Enforcer*, no one knew about hits, whacks, the finger, contracts, capos, dons, and especially Cosa Nostra. Why? In the olden days this was all super secret gumba stuff .
In the late 20’s and 30’s the major mafia gangs organized together to form The Syndicate (kind of like K.A.O.S. or ENRON ). By the 1930’s The Syndicate had hooked up with a gang of expert killers, “The Collection” gang. The gang carried out “contracts” for the Syndicate in secrect to enforce discipline among rank and file mobsters and anyone else that got in their way. The secrecy made it very difficult for the police to eavesdrop and pin the hits on anyone and stop the growing violence.
The gang contained savage meticulous killers with really spiffy names: Abe “Kid Twist ” Reles, Martin “Buggy” Goldstein, “Pittsburg” Phil Straus, Harry “Happy” Malone, “Tic Toc” Tannenbum, Francesco “The Dasher” Abbandando and Anthony Maffetore. Hits were carried out all over the country from a candy store in Brownsville, New York. Estimates range from 100 to 1000 killings. Who knows. Some were just for fun. Abe Reles once killed a parking lot attendent for not fetching his car fast enough. Reles was so proficient at killing that if he stabbed someone in the ear with an ice pick it would often pass as a cerebral hemorrhage.
In 1932 prosecuters thought they could make a dent into organized crime by turning killer Abe Wagner against The Syndicate. But then witnesses disappeared. Suddenly no one saw anything, heard anything or remembered their birthdays.
Eight years later prosecutors finally caught a big break in 1940 when an informer and murderer decided to dish the dirt on Murder, Inc.’s creepiest and killiest to save his own skin – the one and only Kid Twist. To save his own ass from “Old Sparky” Reles decided to spill all. Freakishly, Abe Reles seemed to have a Rainman-like gift of near total recall. When he talked he talked non-stop and filled 25 steno books with the names of crew members, Syndicate names, hit lists, the secret “codes”. The floodgates opened and within a few years Murder Inc. was so badly crippled it ceased to exist ( maybe, maybe not).
On November 12, 1941, the night before his testimony, Reles was found dead outside the window of the Half Moon Hotel where he had been under 24-hour police protection since he had become an informant. Reles became known as he “canary who could talk, but couldn’t fly”
The Enforcer, 1951. Original Vintage Half Sheet. Near Mint Condition. Professional paperbacked. All minor tears, rips and possible paper loss at lower right corner (????) have been professionally repaired at one point. No pin holes. Poster is kept in archival sleeve.
*Well, I should say: Prior to media coverage of the “Murder, Inc.” trials.