By Tom Dare
A SERIES of newly colourised images bringing the chilling faces of some of America’s most notorious gangsters to life have been published for the first time today, on the 120th anniversary of Charles ‘Lucky’ Lucciano’s birth.
Striking pictures from the collection show the infamous Al Capone, nicknamed Scarface, at the Chicago Detective bureau following his arrest on a vagrancy charge in 1930, while other images see Lucky Lucciano relaxing with one of his dogs in 1955 following his deportation to Naples.
Further shots show notorious criminal and bank robber John Dillinger following his arrest in September 1933, with a further picture showing Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel after he was taken in for questioning for the killing of chauffer Harry Schachter in Hollywood, California, in 1940.
The images, restored into full colour by colouriser Jecinci, were mostly taken from America’s prohibition era, a 13-year period between 1920 and 1933 which saw the emergence of organised crime as a real force after the Federal government banned the sale and purchase of alcohol.
Lucciano, Capone and Siegel were all prominent names associated with prohibition-era crime, as well as others such as Meyer Lansky, Johnny Torio, Mickey Cohen and Dutch Schultz.
Each of these characters featured in producer Martin Scorsese’s huge hit TV show Boardwalk Empire, a show set in prohibition era America which took an in depth look at the rise of organised crime throughout the twenties.
And Scorsese, who has also worked on hit gangster projects such as Goodfellas and Casino, believes that one of the main reasons for the rise of organised crime during this time was the introduction of prohibition.
“One of the things is that the good intentions of Prohibition, from reading over the years and from becoming obsessed with the research of gangs in New York City, seems to have allowed crime figures at the time, like Luciano, Capone, Torrio and Rothstein, to organise to become more powerful, which pulled all the way through until the ‘seventies,” he is quoted as saying.
“During Prohibition, Atlantic City created the idea of the speakeasy, which turned into nightclubs and that extraordinary political complexity and corruption coming out of New Jersey at the time.
“The long hand that they had – and maybe still do – even had to do with presidential elections.”
Colourised pictures such as these are featured in author Michael D. Carroll’s new photo-book Retrographic, which is available to buy from Amazon for £16.85.
For more information, visit: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Retrographic-Historys-Exciting-Images-Transformed/dp/1908211504