America’s fascination with the grimy underworld of organized crime continues to intrigue us with the new HBO series, Boardwalk Empire. With famed director, Martin Scorsese and the writer of The Sopranos, Terrence Winter, how can you lose?
Boardwalk Empire is based on real life New Jersey political boss, Enoch ‘Nucky’ Johnson who controlled everyone and everything around Atlantic City during the prohibition era of the 1920’s. Portrayed by Steve Buscemi as Enoch ‘Nucky’ Thompson, from bootlegging during Prohibition to gambling and prostitution, Nucky controlled it all and became a very wealthy man. From the buzz on the streets Boardwalk Empire will be an instant hit. Now being that the show is set in the early part of the 1920’s we get to see how all the prominent underworld bosses came to be we get to see the young versions of Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein and Lucky Luciano all before they became the men we now know today. They all did business with Thompson and their product and merchandise had to come through Atlantic City.
So why we are always fiending to see the gangster drama like a crack head to his pipe? Simple, gangsters live the lives we only dream of living, being rich, powerful and above the law, Ray Liotta said it best in “Goodfellas”
“we were treated like movie stars with muscle. We had it all, just for the asking.”
The life with no consequences when you control and have everything at your whim, we love every gangster movie or show that comes on our screen.
Kanye West said it best “No one man should have all that POWER”. And that’s what’s it all about in many of our gangster flicks, power. And what happens to that man with all that power? They end up dead, in jail or hiding for the rest of their lives. Power is the ultimate high and Nucky Thompson had a lot of it and used it to his advantage.
As prohibition was the law of the land from 1919 to 1933, Nucky only got more powerful and most of Johnson’s income came from the percentage he took on every gallon of liquor sold notto mention all the gambling and prostitution operations in Atlantic City. Johnson once told the press;
“We have whisky, wine, women, song and slot machines. I won’t deny it and I won’t apologize for it. If the majority of the people didn’t want them they wouldn’t be profitable and they wouldn’t exist. The fact that they do exist proves to me that the people want them.”
Now if that isn’t the rhetoric of a man that’s sitting on top of the world and isn’t afraid of anything then we don’t know what is. Seems like Thompson had all the power and no one man should have all that power.
Like all men with power, many of them attain a reputation of being a “Robin Hood”, they make sure that their wealth is shared with the less fortunate. In the case of Nucky he was the ‘Robin Hood’ of Atlantic City, Nucky fre