Lansky is a 1999 American made-for-television crime drama film directed by John McNaughton and starring Richard Dreyfuss as the famous gangster Meyer Lansky, Eric Roberts as Bugsy Siegel, and Ryan Merriman as the young Lansky.
|Directed by||John McNaughton|
|Produced by||Fred C. Caruso|
|Written by||Uri Dan|
|Music by||George S. Clinton|
|Cinematography||John A. Alonzo|
|Edited by||Elena Maganini|
|93 - 114 minutes|
The movie circuits around flashbacks of Lansky's life, first showing Lansky as an old man looking for a rock to put on his grandfather's grave in Jerusalem. Upon seeing soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force, Lansky expresses regret that his grandfather never lived to see them. As he walks through a tunnel, he catches sight of an old man. He recalls how at the age of 10, he witnessed an elderly Jew being bludgeoned to death with an axe during a pogrom.
Later, as the shtetl is burning down, his parents hastily pack up their valuables and prepare to flee to America. Lansky's grandfather watches skeptically. His father suggests, "You think I should fight? You stay, and you fight."
The setting then changes to the Lower East Side, Manhattan. After his mother gives him money to go buy challah for Shabbat, Lansky comes upon a game of craps on the street corner. He then returns home penniless and deeply ashamed.
Later, Benjamin Siegel and Lansky are eyeing the Irish-American boy who operates the craps game. Lansky makes his bet, and as he's throwing the dice, the owner's friend slides him some dice. Certain that the game is rigged, Lansky shouts that he has won the bet. The Irish boy pushes at the young Lansky, Lansky pushes him back, and then the teenager's friend slides out his knife and cuts Lansky's arm. Siegel come into the scene and hits the knife-wielding kid with a brick, shouting at him to give him the money. As Lansky and Siegel are walking down the docks they see the Irish kid who bet against them in the alley. The Irish kid is shouting Irish words about him being Jewish. Lansky jumps into the sea where the Irish kid is hanging about, Lansky then goes under water and slits the Irish kid's neck.
As the blood is sliding around in the water, the film returns to Lansky as an old man drinking wine with the Jewish man. The Jewish man goes to pray in the synagogue.
The film then shows Lansky owning the crap games as a kid. Lansky goes into an alley to count his money, where he meets Charles "Lucky" Luciano. When Luciano tells him to give protection money, the gang starts beating Lansky. Lansky says, "nothing for nothing."
Luciano takes a liking to Lansky's guts, and they then work together selling illegal alcohol. Bugsy, Luciano and Lansky are making their way driving the truck carrying alcohol. They are ambushed by Arnold Rothstein's associates. Luciano and Lansky make a deal, saying they will give them one truck full of alcohol and no one will be shot at. When Lansky, Bugsy and Luciano get into the truck, it is revealed that the truck was full of empty suitcases.
Impressed, Rothstein invites them to his house for a sit-down. He offers Bugsy and Lansky a job to work for him, as he knows Lansky is smart.
After Rothstein is taken out, Meyer and Bugsy work with Luciano to take over the crime world, killing the Italian bosses Joe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano. Luciano then sets up the Commission, and the five Italian families can now work freely with Jews. Meyer builds his prestige by running all the casinos in Cuba and helping Bugsy get a start in Las Vegas. After Bugsy spends more money than the plan and his girlfriend is questioned abouttaking money, Meyer buys his childhood friend time to turn the venture around.
A month after warning Siegel that the Flamingo is not earning money, Lansky can no longer prevent the Commission from taking out Siegel.
Years later, Lansky is on the run in Israel to avoid tax evasion charges but is extradited back to the US. He is lucky to get off on the charges and retires to Miami.
At the climax of the film, Lansky gives an interview to a French journalist. When the journalist asks him what he would do if he could live his life over, Lansky responds, "I wouldn't change a thing."
Lansky received a rating of 5.0/10 at the IMDb. It received mixed reviews.