Tonight’s episode of AMC’s series “The Making of the Mob New York” was titled “New Frontiers.” The Mafia of New York City became famous with names like; Joe Masseria played by Stelio Savante, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Vito Genovese, and Frank Costello played by Anthony DiCarlo, and how they formed their own version of the “American Dream.” AMC presents this series with actors portraying those gangsters while Ray Liotta narrates and various actors, singers, historians, writers, politicians and even relatives of the characters like Meyer Lansky II give their comments and insight as to what is being presented.
The last episode recalled how Lucky Luciano intervened when the war broke out and a ship in the New York harbor was ablaze. Once the word was out from the mob, the docks became safe from feared invaders. As Luciano awaited his release for doing favors for the FBI and Thomas Dewey, he was finally released but deported to Italy. Now he had to devise a way to keep control of the New York Mafia from an ocean away.
Luciano was forced to leave the control of the mob to his acting boss, Frank Costello. When Vito Genovese was released from prison, he discovered that he had been demoted. When he came to see Costello, he asked how he could make things right between himself and Luciano. He was now running a street gang like some punk and he was not happy. As a rival of Frank Costello, Frank was not about to go over Luciano’s head to promote him. Meyer Lansky was busy in Cuba making friends with Batista and cleaned up seedy hotels and transformed them into five star casinos. While Lansky was in Cuba, Bugsy Siegel was in Hollywood making nice with unions and infiltrating the studios. After all his years of loyalty, he had nothing to call his own. Looking at the photo of his childhood friends, he never was able to be called boss or call the shots. Now he wants something to call the legacy he can leave behind. He saw that Las Vegas, a barren desert, for what it could be, not for what it was back then. He envisioned a hotel and named it after his long-legged girlfriend’s nickname The Flamingo. All he needed was money and when he called Luciano, he agreed to fund his dream. He seized the Italian heroin operation that was run by Vito Genovese when he escaped prosecution. Now heroin was illegal in Italy, so he converted candy factories into underground heroin labs. Now he has to find a way to smuggle the drugs into the U.S. without detection. When Lansky came to visit him in Italy, Luciano told him that he wanted to see his operation in Cuba, knowing that his drug trade could make even more money by expanding it to Cuba. He held a meeting there of the five families to reaffirm his status and introduce his plan. This meeting was known as “The Havana Summit.” He even brought in a singer from New York known as Frank Sinatra. He told the bosses that he wanted them to invest in Bugsy’s plan to bring casino gambling to the United States and furthermore the heroin into the country with several pipelines. When he announced his plan, Genovese asked where his cut was, as the heroin trade was inaugurated by him while he was in Italy. Luciano told him he would meet with him later.
In Las Vegas, Siegel broke ground for the casino using the bosses’ money to build his dream. As the costs of building the casino continued to rise, Siegel told his contractors that he would get the money by digging deeper and deeper into the pockets of the families. With the drug trade making millions, Genovese was growing more and more disgruntled. While Luciano was talking to a young woman, Genovese came to him to ask if he forgot their meeting. Luciano learned then that he could not be trusted, as his innuendo alluded to the fact that the feds already knew he was in Cuba. Luciano gave him a beating for using his disrespectful attitude towards him.
When Siegel’s Flamingo was finally completed, it had to be a huge success. On opening night, a huge storm came to Las Vegas and after three days, he was forced to shut down turning his dream to a nightmare. Now Luciano wants answers. Meyer Lansky bought more time for Bugsy and hired a publicist. He had enough time to complete the hotel and casino and the second grand opening was a winner.
Genovese was still stewing and was determined to become a boss once again. The United States was aware of Luciano’s operation in Cuba and he was once again deported to Italy. Now back in Italy, Luciano’s control of his empire continued to crumble and he had made a dangerous new enemy out of Vito Genovese. As Frank Costello was meeting with the other bosses, they were all very infuriated that no return on their Las Vegas investment had come back to them. Now Bugsy’s girlfriend, Virginia Hill, was spotted leaving on a plane to Switzerland with a ton of luggage. Now Frank Costello knows that the money is lost and Bugsy must be eliminated. Meyer Lansky wanted to talk to Bugsy, but Frank disagreed. As Lansky called Bugsy on the telephone, and he just watched it as it rang; someone shot Bugsy several times with the last bullet going through his head. At 41, Siegel was the first of Luciano’s crew to be killed. Twenty minutes after his murder, Meyer Lansky’s men took over The Flamingo.
Vito Genovese was planning to overtake the level of power he once had, and looked outside the Luciano family found a mid-level gangster to help him. Carlo Gambino told him to stay in the game until the right time came. But a U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver was about to make his move against racketeering. Hearings were held and some even televised so that 30 million people could see them. Over and over again, the mobsters repeated, “I refuse to answer under the grounds that it may incriminate me,” pleading the Fifth Amendment. But Frank Costello was determined to prove that he was a legitimate businessman. He felt that after handling local politicians for so long, these men were of the same ilk. Frank Costello’s weaknesses were televised for all to see, but the one person who enjoyed this limitation was Vito Genovese who planned to take down not only Costello, but Luciano as well. Will this plan come to fruition? Tune in to the series finale next week to see if Genovese regains his power on “The Making of the Mob New York.”