Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Gangster Squad and Burbank

The recently released movie Gangster Squad, starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, and Emma Stone, contains some surprising (to an outsider) and amusing (in hindsight) references to Burbank that recently kept an audience at the AMC 16 laughing at lines no one else would probably find noteworthy.

It seems that the LAPD and the Burbank police were definitely not on the best of terms when it came to cracking down on organized crime, and that the Burbank police chief, Elmer Adams, earned a salary of $8,500 a year, but managed to owned an expensive home and two luxury yachts, bought $250 suits at a clothing store owned by Mickey Cohen, and frequently flashed a huge roll of greenbacks!

The film does highlight some of the issues that allowed Mickey Cohen to run wild in Burbank in the '50s, but if you are interested in a more in-depth look, the book on which the movie is based--Gangster Squad: Covert Cops, the Mob, and the Battle for Los Angeles, by Paul Lieberman--is on order for Burbank Public Library. In the meantime, you can get a lot of the story from a 1956 article in the Coronet, posted on the Burbankia website produced by Mike McDaniel and Wes Clark.

If you read this and still want more info, try these books (now available at the library):

L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City, by John Buntin
at 979.494 BUNTIN

Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.'s Notorious Mobster, by Tere Tereba
at 364.1092 TEREBA

L.A. 56: A Devil in the City of Angels, by Joel Engel
at 364.1532 ENGEL

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