View Full Version : Godfather Question: Mob Bosses Being Photographed
07-26-2010, 07:29 PM
My question relates to the Mafia chiefs portrayed in GF I-at the Don's daughter's wedding, one of the guests (Mob Boss Barzini) gets visibly pissed off when a photographer snaps his picture (his goons/bodyguards rough up the photographer and pull the film out of the camera). No doubt, Barzini liked his privacy!
The next instance was after the GF got shot-there is a scene in which Tom Hagen holds up a newspaper-where there is a picture of Don Corleone , with e headline. "Syndicate Boss Corleone Leaves Hospital"-was Don Corleone less carreful than Barzini? Would ANY NYC "Five Families" boss allow his portrait to be in a newspaper, in 1946?
07-26-2010, 07:56 PM
I'm going to have to check sometime, but if the film is right in front of you, is Don Corleone's picture blurry and small? Even today, sometimes NYC newspapers can only scrounge up a blurry, blown-up, long distance photo for their paper -- at least until the court case. IIRC, the newspaper Kay sees and alerts Michael has no photo, only a headline.
Also, I'd heard, in real life, during WWII, the FBI worked with the mob, to protect against spy entry via the docks under their control. Supposedly worked very well, no successful Nazi spies entered via NYC docks, and with FBI muscle, the docks came even firmer under mafia control. Win-Win! So yeah, maybe Don Vito, with judges and politicians in his pocket, is a little more, grandiose than others. For example, buying fruit, on the street, just because ... well, explained further in GFII and the books.
07-26-2010, 09:14 PM
Since newspapers can find photographs of Thomas Pychon (http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2003/may/02/artsfeatures.thomaspynchon), they certainly can find them of Mafia figures, even in the 1940s. They might be old and grainy, but they can be used.
07-26-2010, 09:19 PM
It's possible that Barzini was on parole (even some successful mob bosses went to jail) and that a photo of him at that wedding could be used to argue he was associating with known criminals since some of the guests almost certainly had records, and a hotshot DA could use this to send him back to jail.
The Second Stone
07-27-2010, 02:24 AM
Before the 1970s, the mafia members were supposed to be unobtrusive, and in fact, Colombo, the family head who was crusading for Italian American rights was assassinated because he broke this rule. John Gotti ignored the rule entirely, and attracted a lot of attention, which eventually helped bring him down. It was just reckless behavior to seek attention. Everyone who recognizes a person can be a witness to a variety of things, but if nobody knows who you are, nobody pays attention. At the same wedding, Sonny busts a camera of a reporter or cop taking pictures of license plates in the driveway. These two scenes establish that they do not seek publicity and that the characters can be really arrogant and bullying even at a swank event: and that they get away with it.
07-27-2010, 09:11 AM
I always liked the old newsreels of mobsters being hauled into court-with their jackets pulled over their faces.
Carlo Gambino (the inspiration for Don Vito) was meticulous about being private-he never had a telephone in his house, never had a bank account, and was rarely photographed.
I think the new generation of mafiosi have learned from Gotti-it is not wise to be a mob boss (and a publicity hound).
07-27-2010, 09:45 AM
I think it would be useful to the FBI to study the photos to see who is sitting next to whom. That will tell them something about which "families" are cooperating with each other. It's sort of like how the real-life Apalachin Meeting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apalachin_Meeting) proved to the FBI that the Mafia really did exist, and the various bosses were cooperating with each other.
Also, the FBI could have gotten pictures of the faces of some of the soldiers, which might have been useful later for witness identification.
07-27-2010, 09:54 AM
Also based on Lucky Luciano, who was gunned down in a street, yet survived. Don Vito is a composite of several mafiosi, in personality, business dealings, and appearance.
07-27-2010, 10:51 AM
Keep in mind that many of the old mafiosi leaders claimed complete innocence.
"I'm not in organized crime. I'm just an innocent olive oil importer who's being persecuted for no reason. Those FBI guys, they see an Italian making a good living and right away they assume he's in the mob."
"Well then, Mr Tortellini, would you like to explain why an innocent olive oil importer is having dinner with Al Capone, Charles Luciano, Carlo Gambino, Joseph Colombo, Vito Genevese, Joseph Bonnano, and Vito Corleone as you are in this photograph?"
"Ummm...we all belong to the same racquet ball club?"
07-27-2010, 11:04 AM
I think Little Nemo has nailed it.
Since I have to deal with computer security and the idjits who just don't get it, I appreciate the concept of taking security seriously 100% of the time.
The better mob bosses get this. You don't use the phone, you discuss business with subordinates one-on-one, you use vague terms, and you don't draw attention to yourself. This means avoiding getting your picture taken.
Taking security seriously 90% of the time is just another way of saying you're not taking it seriously at all. It is something you have to do without exception.
It won't get perfect results, but you'll do significantly better than those who don't. And in the Mafia, doing better than the others makes the difference. You also won't get a computer virus every week.
07-27-2010, 08:01 PM
Well here are some photos of some mob bosses from around 1946
I think it's easy to see why a smart criminal would want to keep a low profile in general. In the 1940s, reporters often kept better track of mobsters than the authorities did. Organized crime, both as a social menace and as sensationalist entertainment, was a popular topic for newspapers of the era. I actually wrote a paper about it in college.
07-27-2010, 09:16 PM
I read a magazine article*, I can't remember where, about a similar incident. There was a mob boss who hung out at a neighborhood place, and the writer's wife walked over one day and snapped a picture of him. She was very open, he waved off the goons, it took all of thirty seconds. Then they found out that he had never been photographed. He offered to sell the picture to the Times, but they started talking about cut out bank accounts and secret transactions to protect him, and he got spooked. The article included the picture - I think the boss had died by that time.
*As I was typing, it seemed to me that it was on This American Life, with the photo on the website. Anyway, my larger point was that taking pictures of mob bosses is a very poor idea.
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