The Dark Heart of Hollywood: Glamour, Guns and Gambling – Inside the Mafia’s Global Empire


author: Douglas Thompson

rating: 4

The Mafia and the entertainment industry have been intertwined for a very long time. From the early days of cinema, criminals have been there skimming their share. Whether it was running protection- pay up or your movie doesn’t get made or shown- laundering dirty cash or a glitzy route to legitimacy, they never tired of finding new ways to squeeze some extra money.

Written in a conversational style, with regular wanders off the subject at hand to deliver back story or extra information, this book takes a look at some of the major characters and events in the long relationship between the mob and the movies. Some bits are well known, others I’ve seen alluded to in other books and films, but quite a few were new to me. Marilyn’s there, as are the Kennedys, Bugsy Siegel, the Manson Family and more. And Sinatra, of course. The more I learn about Sinatra, the more he seems a monster, a bully and coward who traded on his mob and political connections but was nowhere near as important or effective for them as he liked to think.

The final section, about the opening up of international markets- particularly Asian ones- isn’t as strong as the rest of the book. This is mostly because the author hadn’t had as much direct contact with the main players, and couldn’t draw on as big a pool of information and anecdotes. It gives a picture of the international reach of the entertainment and extortion industries that others may be able to build upon, though.