Kill the Irishman

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Kill the Irishman
Kill the irishman poster.jpg
Directed by Jonathan Hensleigh
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Jonathan Hensleigh
  • Jeremy Walters
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
  • Code Entertainment[1]
  • Dundee Entertainment
  • Sweet William Productions
Distributed by Anchor Bay Films
Release dates
  • March 11, 2011 (2011-03-11)
Running time 106 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12,000,000[1]
Box office $1,188,194 (Domestic gross)[3]
$$2,435,527 (Domestic DVD sales)[4]

Kill the Irishman is a 2011 biographical crime thriller film directed by Jonathan Hensleigh[5] 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)[6] by Rick Porrello.[7][8]

The movie was in development hell for over a decade, before finally being green-light in 2009.[1]


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.

Because of Danny’s financial problems, Nardi gets him a job with loan shark Alex "Shondor" Birns (Christopher Walken). Danny works as Shondor’s muscle and collects the money that is owed to him.

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.



‘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.[1]

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”.[1]

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.[1]


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.[12] Reid stated that he thought “at least I can go to my grave saying I tried, and at least I made this documentary”.[1]

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.[1] 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.[1] 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)".[13]

The film was shot within seven weeks, mostly in Detroit (which gave tax credits that Cleveland would not match). The budget for the movie was $12 million.[1][12]


The soundtrack for the movie includes 26 songs in total.[14] The list below includes the names of the songs and the artists who performed them.

  1. I'm Gonna Keep On Loving You - Kool Blues
  2. Crazy Little Notion - The Two Guys
  3. All I Want Is You - Leroy Osbourne
  4. I Like The Way You Look At Me - The Pentagons
  5. Wrong Or Right He's My Baby - Helene Smith
  6. How About You - Steven Lang, Jamie Dunlap & Scott Nickoley
  7. Meet Me For A Martini - Daniel May
  8. Paddy On The Landfill - The Irish Experience
  9. Courting Clarinets - Stefan Maciejewsk
  10. Heart Of Gold - Norman Chandler
  11. This is It - Lewis Lamedica
  12. Get In A Hurry - Eugene Blacknell
  13. You're A Prisoner - Death
  14. Broadway Shing-A-Ling - Soul Blenders
  15. Daffy Dotty Day - Lake Smash
  16. I'm Running Out Of Time - Gary Michael Allen
  17. Cielo E Mar - Paul Pritchard
  18. Sulla Riviera - Bruno Bertoli
  19. Eternal Father For - Michael Hankinson
  20. Your Smiling Face - Norman Chandler
  21. It's Not Too Late - Christopher Blue
  22. Drive Drive Drive - Pat Cusick
  23. Like A Moth Into A Flame - The Automatics
  24. Don't Worry Tracy - Christopher Blue
  25. Bonny Portmore - The Rogues
  26. Seaport Lane - Athena Tergis

Release and Reception[edit]


‘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.[15][16] The movie also premiered simultaneously in Los Angeles and Cleveland before expanding to Detroit, Chicago and Boston on March 18.[16]

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.[4][17]


‘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.[18] 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”.[19]

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".[20]

The movie has a rating of 7.2 out of 10 on IMDB. The rating is based on the votes of over 31,000 IMDB users. The Majority of the users gave Kill The Irishman a rating of 7 out of 10.[21][22]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  2. ^ "Official Irishman release date through Anchor Bay Films is March 11, 2011". Movieset. 2010-07-14. Retrieved 2010-07-14. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Jonathan Hensleigh. Retrieved on 2011-09-30.
  6. ^ ISBN 1-4391-7174-2
  7. ^ a b c Tatiana Siegel (2009-05-06). "Stevenson, Walken join 'Irishman'". Variety. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gregg Kilday (2009-05-18). "Slew of actors join 'The Irishman'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2009-05-25. [dead link]
  9. ^ Plain Dealer staff (2011-03-06). "'Kill the Irishman' cast: Real life vs. reel life". Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  10. ^ Kroll, David (2009-05-26). "Jason Butler Harner". Variety. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  11. ^ Kroll, Justin (2009-06-24). "Robert Davi". Variety. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^

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