Four Famous Gangsters
And how they influence Sweet Mercy
Instead of creating a better and safer America, Prohibition led to an explosion of organized crime. The once-legal business of producing, importing and distributing alcoholic beverages became the territory of criminal gangs. Four of these gangsters made their way into Sweet Mercy.
Al Capone – Undoubtedly, everyone has heard of Al Capone, otherwise known as “Scarface.” Head of what became known as the Chicago Outfit, he made his fortune in bootlegging, racketeering, prostitution and gambling. He had the dubious distinction of being named Public Enemy No. 1 by the Chicago Crime Commission in 1930. He was a ruthless murderer and is believed to be the mastermind behind the Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929. When Capone was finally arrested and sentenced to Alcatraz, it was for the relatively benign crime of tax evasion. (Al Capone has a cameo appearance inSweet Mercy.)
George “Bugs” Moran – Bugs Moran was Al Capone’s greatest rival in the bootlegging industry, never hesitating to hijack Capone’s booze whenever possible and sell it himself. Moran led the Northside Gang in Chicago, whose members often came to loggerheads with Capone’s men. For years the two gangs treated each other to shootouts, torture, kidnappings and murder. This culminated in the Valentine’s Day Massacre, in which seven of Moran’s men were gunned down in a warehouse in cold blood. Moran was supposed to have been there but he stopped for a haircut on the way. (In Sweet Mercy, young girls moon over the handsome Bugs Moran.)
Dean O’Banion – The owner of a flower shop in Chicago, his main business was bootlegging. He was aligned with Bugs Moran and was therefore a rival of Al Capone. A family man, teetotaler and former acolyte and choir boy for Holy Name Cathedral, a church he loved all his life, O’Banion was eventually murdered by Al Capone’s men. (One of the off-screen characters in Sweet Mercy is modeled after O’Banion.)
George Remus – A Cincinnati lawyer, George Remus specialized in and became rather famous for criminal defense, especially murder. But when Prohibition came around, he saw another way to add to his already considerable wealth. He became a bootlegger, and a very successful one. In 1925, Remus was arrested and indicted for thousands of violations of the Volstead Act, for which he served time in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. (The Cincinnati bootlegger in Sweet Mercy is based upon George Remus.)