Kill the Irishman
|Kill the Irishman|
|Directed by||Jonathan Hensleigh|
|Based on||To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia
by Rick Porello
|Music by||Patrick Cassidy|
|Cinematography||Karl Walter Lindenlaub|
|Edited by||Douglas Crise|
|Distributed by||Anchor Bay Films|
|Running time||106 minutes|
|Box office||$1,188,194 (Domestic gross)
$$2,435,527 (Domestic DVD sales)
Kill the Irishman is a 2011 biographical crime thriller film directed by Jonathan Hensleigh and starring Ray Stevenson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer. The film is based on the story of Irish American mobster Danny Greene, and is adapted from the book To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia (1998) by Rick Porrello.
In 1960, Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson) is a union worker at the Cleveland docks. Due to the high temperatures, one of Danny’s friends faints. Their boss Jerry (Bob Gunton) forces them to continue on working or risk being fired – despite the union rules.
After leaving a bar, Danny is approached by Art (Jason Butler Harner) for help. Danny discovers that Art has a gambling problem, and he owes a substantial amount of money to local gangster John Nardi (Vincent D’Onofrio). Greene visits John Nardi and offers him a business proposition to deal with Art’s debt. Greene then gives Nardi a tip-off about a shipment container that contains a large quantity of valuable goods.
The next day at work Jerry warns Danny not to run against him in the unions upcoming election, and demands half of what Danny has been earning from his deal with John Nardi. Danny is told to be at the machine shop at midnight with the money, otherwise the police will be visiting his home. At the machine shop Jerry’s right-hand man attempts to shoot Danny, but Danny convinces him to have a fistfight. Danny wins the fight in a matter of seconds and leaves with his money. Danny eventually runs against Jerry for the union presidency. After he wins the presidency, Greene starts to improve the working conditions in the docks and marries his girlfriend (Linda Cardellini).
After doing business with John Nardi and other Mafioso figures, Danny is accused by the local press of being corrupt. Danny is then arrested by Joe Manditski (Val Kilmer) on charges of grand larceny and labor racketeering. After paying off his lawyers, Danny is left broke and facing ten years in prison. The feds offer Danny to become an informant, and in exchange the charges would be dropped. Danny reluctantly agrees to the deal and he gives monthly tip-offs to the feds.
Afterwards Danny and Nardi set up a meeting with Jack Licavoli (Tony Lo Bianco). It turns out that Licovoli has had trouble trying to get the garbage men of Cleveland to join the union. Danny and Nardi offer to help – in exchange for a percentage. Keith Ritson’s (Vinnie Jones) violent methods are then enlisted in Danny’s new venture. Danny then goes over to Mike Frato’s (Steve Schirripa) house to convince him to join the union. After Mike declines, Danny faces the possibility that Mike may have to be killed.
Word is out that Art has been gambling again and that he is going to testify against high-ranking members of the mafia, so Danny hatches a plan to kill Art. He enlists Art’s help to put a bomb underneath Mike Frato’s car. Then while Art is planting the bomb underneath Mike’s car, Danny detonates the bomb early and kill’s Art in the process. Mike is then under the assumption that Danny tried to kill him. So while Danny is exercising in the park, Mike attempts to run him down. Mike fails and he is shot in the head by Danny. Danny is arrested by Joe (Kilmer) for killing Mike, but subsequently gets released without charge because it was self-defense. After killing Mike Frato, Danny’s wife leaves him and takes their children with her.
Four years have then passed. As Danny is entering his home, he sees debt collectors at Mrs O’Keefe’s (Fionnula Flanagan) home. Danny decides pays Mrs O’Keefe’s debt, and she gives Danny her father’s gold crucifix (for good luck).
Danny then visits Shondor (Walken), and he agrees to invest money into a restaurant with Danny. To invest in Danny’s new venture, Shondor loans $70,000 from the Gambino’s. A courier is arranged to pick up the money from New York, but the courier spends the money on 6 kilos of cocaine. During a police raid the courier is arrested and the cocaine is confiscated. Danny then discovers that he has to pay back the money he borrowed from the Gambino’s (with interest). Danny tells Shondor that he hired the courier, and he should be the one to pay back the money. Danny then has a falling out with Shondor, and a contract is placed on Danny’s life. Nardi informs Danny of the hit, and tells him that he should make amends with Shondor. The first hit on Danny's life fails when his radio starts to receive static. Danny realizes there’s a bomb on his car, and he jumps out of the car seconds before the bomb detonates. Danny then receives information of Shondor’s current whereabouts and places a bomb underneath Shondor's car. Greene then detonates the bomb outside a church and kills Shondor in the process.
Jack Licavoli is made the new Don of Cleveland and he tells Danny that he has to pay 30% for doing business on his turf. Danny declines and tells Licavoli he’s in business for himself, and Licavoli then puts a hit out on Danny. Afterwards, Billy (Marcus Thomas) is offered to go into business with a gangster named Tommy – once Danny is dead. Billy kills Tommy and tries to phone Danny to warn him of the hit. Billy fails to phone in time and a bomb explodes in Danny’s house. Miraculously Danny and his new girlfriend escape unharmed. Then while Danny is exercising in a nearby field, another attempt is made on his life by Jack Licavoli. A sniper attempts to shoot Danny and fails. Danny chases the sniper, but he fails to catch the sniper in time.
Nardi and Danny decide to officially become business partners. Together they decide to bring down Licavoli and take over Cleveland together. Many of Licavoli’s associates are then killed in hits organized by Danny and Nardi. Because of all the problems in Cleveland, Jack Licavoli travels to New York to attend a meeting with Anthony Salerno (Paul Sorvino). Salerno tells Jack that he is becoming an embarrassment and he asks him why he hasn’t killed Danny yet. Salerno then offers to help Licavoli, and Salerno's offer is accepted.
Danny considers buying a cattle ranch in Texas, so that he and his new girlfriend can live in peace. To do this he needs to raise $2 million dollars, so he and Nardi travel to New York to seek a loan off Anthony Salerno. Danny offers Salerno 50% of the profits and tells him of how much money there is to be made in Texas. Salerno tells Danny that he will consider his proposition. After Danny leaves, Salerno announces to his associates that they’re going to kill Danny and Nardi. To make sure that this is done effectively, Salerno hires hitman Ray Ferritto (Robert Davi).
After a meeting with Danny in a car park, a bomb goes off on Nardi's car. The mortally wounded Nardi dies in Danny’s arms, and simultaneously Billy is killed in a set-up at the docks by Licavoli’s men. Then as Keith (Jones) is leaving his home, he mistakes Ferritto’s car for Danny’s, and he is killed instantly. Ferritto then taps into Danny’s girlfriend’s phone, and he retrieves information about Danny’s upcoming appointment at the dentist.
On October 6, 1977, Danny Greene goes to his dentist appointment. After the appointment, a kid says to Danny that his cousin wants to be just like him. Danny then gives the kid Mrs O’Keefe’s gold crucifix. As Danny gets into his car he notices Ferritto driving past slowly. Danny knows that he is about to die and accepts it. As Ferritto detonates the bomb, Danny points to Ferritto with his finger (mimicking a handgun). The bomb kills Danny Greene instantly.
In a narration given by Joe Manditski (Kilmer), the audience is told of how Danny Greene's death led to the indictment of multiple high-ranking members of organized crime. The narration ends with Manditski saying that organized crime in Cleveland hasn't been the same since.
- Ray Stevenson as Danny Greene: An Irish American mobster.
- Vincent D'Onofrio as John Nardi: An Italian-American labour racketeer and ally of Greene.
- Val Kilmer as Joe Manditski: A Cleveland cop who befriends Greene. Manditski is a composite character based in part on former Cleveland Police Chief Edward Kovačić.
- Christopher Walken as Alex "Shondor" Birns: A Jewish-American loanshark and nightclub owner.
- Linda Cardellini as Joan Madigan: Danny's girlfriend and eventual wife.
- Marcus Thomas as Billy McComber: An Irish American gangster who works as Danny's enforcer. He is also Danny's best friend.
- Vinnie Jones as Keith Ritson: An Irish-Lithuanian ex-boxer who works as Greene's chief enforcer.
- Tony Lo Bianco as Jack Licavoli: Caporegime and later the boss of the Cleveland crime family.
- Paul Sorvino as Anthony Salerno: Boss of the Genovese crime family.
- Fionnula Flanagan as Grace O'Keefe: Danny's elderly Irish neighbor.
- Laura Ramsey as Ellie O'Hara
- Mike Starr as Leo "Lips" Moceri: An associate of Jack Licavoli's. He is loudmouthed and short-tempered.
- Steve Schirripa as Mike Frato: The owner of a garbage business in Cleveland. He is eventually killed by Greene.
- Bob Gunton as Jerry Merke: He is the president of the union and he controls all of the workers in the Cleveland docks. Danny Greene successfully runs against him for presidency of the union.
- Tony Darrow as Mikey Mendarolo: He is an associate of Mike Frato.
- Jason Butler Harner as Art Sneperger: A compulsive gambler and a friend of Danny Greene's.
- Robert Davi as Ray Ferritto: An Italian American contract killer for the crime families in Cleveland and Los Angeles. He is hired to kill Danny Greene and John Nardi.
- Cody Christian as Young Danny Greene
- Dante Wildern as Young Billy McComber
‘Kill the Irishman’ had been in development since 1997. Producer Tommy Reid heard that a Ohio policeman (Rick Porrello) was about to publish a book about Greene called ‘To Kill the Irishman’. Reid immediately flew to Ohio and met with Porrello. Porrello’s Grandfather had been a leading Cleveland Mafioso figure in the prohibition era, and they both immediately got on with each other during the meeting. On ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ in 1998, they finally signed a deal for the film rights to Porrello’s book.
After signing the deal, Reid was convinced he had struck gold. Reid said that he “wanted to be a part of this (the movie)” and “bring this movie to the big screen”. Reid never wanted to settle for a ‘TV movie of the week’, and he dreamed of this as a big movie. Reid could never anticipate the journey he would have to undertake to get the movie off the ground. He was constantly leaving deals where handshakes were made, but the ‘money-men’ kept disappearing. Reid also made shocking discoveries where (on numerous occasions) the script he’d commissioned - word-for-word - was attached to a cover with another screenwriter and producer’s name listed. According to Reid it was “wake-up 101” for him and “this was Hollywood”.
Slowly the years started passing by, and Reid’s determination to get the movie made eventually turned into desperation. Renewing the possibility of getting this film made became very costly for Reid, and he spent over six-figures of his personal fortune to ensure that the movie was made.
Tommy Reid began to accept the possibility that his movie was never going to be made, so he decided to make a documentary about Danny Greene called ‘Danny Greene: the Rise and Fall of the Irishman’. The documentary came out partly because of the trials and tribulations of not being able to successfully make a movie. Reid became so specialized in the Northern Ohio crime scene and Danny Greene’s life that he had to do something about it. Reid stated that he thought “at least I can go to my grave saying I tried, and at least I made this documentary”.
Then one day in 2009, with 17 hours of the documentary shot, Reid received news that the movie had finally been green-light. He then joined forces with production company ‘Code Entertainment’, and they finally managed to do what needed to be done to get the movie made. They started by finding a “bankable” director (Jonathan Hensleigh) to sign on to the project; then they were able to attach actors Val Kilmer and Christopher Walken to the project. After Val Kilmer and Christopher Walken signed onto the project, the cast began to fill-up with well-known actors – most notably, Vincent D’Onofrio (known for Full Metal Jacket), Paul Sorvino (who played a mafia don in Goodfellas), and Irish actor Ray Stevenson who agreed to play Danny Greene. Ray Stevenson was filming The Book of Eli when he got a phone call from writer and director Jonathan Hensleigh. They arranged to have a meeting when Stevenson was back in Los Angeles. When the meeting finally took place, Stevenson was drawn to the script and immediately made a deal. Stevenson stated that Jonathan Hensleigh's script was "the biggest draw ever (to the movie)".
The soundtrack for the movie includes 26 songs in total. The list below includes the names of the songs and the artists who performed them.
- I'm Gonna Keep On Loving You - Kool Blues
- Crazy Little Notion - The Two Guys
- All I Want Is You - Leroy Osbourne
- I Like The Way You Look At Me - The Pentagons
- Wrong Or Right He's My Baby - Helene Smith
- How About You - Steven Lang, Jamie Dunlap & Scott Nickoley
- Meet Me For A Martini - Daniel May
- Paddy On The Landfill - The Irish Experience
- Courting Clarinets - Stefan Maciejewsk
- Heart Of Gold - Norman Chandler
- This is It - Lewis Lamedica
- Get In A Hurry - Eugene Blacknell
- You're A Prisoner - Death
- Broadway Shing-A-Ling - Soul Blenders
- Daffy Dotty Day - Lake Smash
- I'm Running Out Of Time - Gary Michael Allen
- Cielo E Mar - Paul Pritchard
- Sulla Riviera - Bruno Bertoli
- Eternal Father For - Michael Hankinson
- Your Smiling Face - Norman Chandler
- It's Not Too Late - Christopher Blue
- Drive Drive Drive - Pat Cusick
- Like A Moth Into A Flame - The Automatics
- Don't Worry Tracy - Christopher Blue
- Bonny Portmore - The Rogues
- Seaport Lane - Athena Tergis
Release and Reception
‘Kill the Irishman’ premiered on March 11, 2011 in New York City at the ‘Landmark Sunshine Cinema’. Most of the cast was in attendance at the premiere in New York, including Ray Stevenson and Vincent D’Onofrio. The movie also premiered simultaneously in Los Angeles and Cleveland before expanding to Detroit, Chicago and Boston on March 18.
Even though the movie was generally well received, it was a box office disappointment. The film grossed $1,188,194 at the domestic box office (against a budget of $12 million) and $2,435,527 in domestic DVD sales.
‘Kill the Irishman’ received mixed-positive reviews from film critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 63% of critics gave the movie a positive review. The movie has a rating of 5.6 out of 10. Mike LaSalle of the 'San Fransisco Chronicle' stated that “What makes this film special and memorable is the character of Danny Green, who is not the usual neighborhood hoodlum you see in movies, the kind who gets in deep and gradually loses his soul”.
Marshall Fine of the Huffington Post gave the film a mixed review. He criticized the movie for jumping through different events in a "jerky fashion", but summed up the movie on a positive note by saying that Kill the Irishman is a "movie with a lot of meat on the bone, even if some of it is tough or stringy. It's not fancy, but it's always tasty".
- "Official Irishman release date through Anchor Bay Films is March 11, 2011". Movieset. 2010-07-14. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
- Jonathan Hensleigh. Slickdevilmoviehouse.com. Retrieved on 2011-09-30.
- ISBN 1-4391-7174-2
- Tatiana Siegel (2009-05-06). "Stevenson, Walken join 'Irishman'". Variety. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
- Gregg Kilday (2009-05-18). "Slew of actors join 'The Irishman'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2009-05-25.[dead link]
- Plain Dealer staff (2011-03-06). "'Kill the Irishman' cast: Real life vs. reel life". Cleveland.com. Retrieved 2011-03-06.
- Kroll, David (2009-05-26). "Jason Butler Harner". Variety. Retrieved 2009-05-27.
- Kroll, Justin (2009-06-24). "Robert Davi". Variety. Retrieved 2009-06-27.