Black Mass Question #10 - Exclusions

by Dick Lehr & Gerard O'Neill

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Black Mass Question #10 - Exclusions

Unread postby Liz » Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:39 am

It recently came to our attention that Teresa Stanley is not in Black Mass, the movie, but Lindsey Cyr (the mother of Whitey’s child) is. Lindsey Cyr was never mentioned in Black Mass, the book, but Teresa Stanley was mentioned numerous times. Neither woman was mentioned in the documentary by Berlinger.

Comment on the exclusions made by these authors, screenwriters and documentarians.

To those of you who read Public Enemies, do you see any parallels here?
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Re: Black Mass Question #10 - Exclusions

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Oct 09, 2014 8:53 pm

I don't think Black Mass was meant to be an inclusive story about Whitey's life. As a stand alone book, Black Mass focuses on the unholy alliance between the FBI and Whitey et al. The same authors wrote another book called "Whitey the Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss" which is actually a biography -- there is another book in the "trilogy" that details more about the FBI bugging of Gennaro Angiulo, that book is the "Underboss". I suppose if one were to read all three books you would get a more complete picture of events.

My opinion is that Public Enemies the book tried to cover too many characters and events in one volume -- it is a large reference book; Black Mass didn't cover enough -- its focus is narrow. To learn more about the Dillinger character Johnny was going to play, I had to read another book; to learn more about Whitey the character Johnny is going to play, I had to read another book. In both cases, the leading criminal character wasn't given enough dimension to understand his life. But that was my goal in reading, not the author's goal in writing.

I have complained for a long time that the movie Public Enemies didn't cover the Dillinger story accurately. The book was factual as far as it went, the movie was historical fiction. I think it will be the same with the movie named Black Mass. I suspect that it, too, will be fictionalized to the point where it bears little resemblance to the book other than the name. Combining/renaming the female characters for the purpose of film is not a surprise to me.

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Re: Black Mass Question #10 - Exclusions

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:07 pm

I absolutely agree. Black Mass offers a sliver of a look at something. It is focuses on the details of a relationship, and how the relationship polluted and ultimately destroyed the integrity of a number of people in law enforcement. Whitey was drawn in broad lines, almost comic book style or even like a character in a play or movie, so that the reader gets a stereotypical bad guy, very two dimensional. What bothers me is it doesn't seem that anyone writing about Whitey is actually interested in a true analysis of the guy.

As to the book maybe leaving out some individuals, that follows from the writers' desire to tell a very particular story about the FBI and Whitey Bulger. I am not sure what the movie's central role is -- the same sort of story? or something wider? We will have to wait and see.
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Re: Black Mass Question #10 - Exclusions

Unread postby Liz » Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:01 am

I agree, Firefly. We will have to wait and see.

I also agree with nebraska that PE the movie did not portray Dillinger accurately, if you are to believe PE, the book. That was very frustrating for me. And that is why I draw the parallel.

The difference is that I think PE, the book, went into much detail and left little out. But Black Mass, the book, left out Cyr. It was apparently not important to the story they wanted to tell. And I can understand the movie wanting to bring her out. But why not also include Stanley (just out of respect)? I guess it's just something that the screenwriter/director chose to do.

It seems like they try very hard to recapture certain aspects to the tee, but leave out others. That's what happened with PE.

But nebraska, since you read the bio, did the authors mention Cyr in that?
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Re: Black Mass Question #10 - Exclusions

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Sat Oct 11, 2014 3:43 am

Liz wrote:It seems like they try very hard to recapture certain aspects to the tee, but leave out others. That's what happened with PE.

Yes, exactly. On the first couple of viewings of PE I was terribly frustrated. But once I allowed myself to frame it as just a story – the story that Michael Mann wanted to tell - I enjoyed it. I have to keep reminding myself that Hollywood movies are really just art, and what we see is an artist’s vision, or interpretation of past events.

Another thing to consider is that Hollywood loves the personal interest story because it helps draw us in, and evokes emotion. The authors of Black Mass on the other hand are serious investigative journalists. Their primary goal, I think, is to uncover and report the truth with minimal stylization. And they also have to take care not to insinuate that someone was more deeply involved than they actually were. I didn’t watch the documentary but usually similar rules apply. If the women were not party to the crime it would make sense to omit them.

PE, the movie, really emphasized the relationship between Dillinger and Billy but I don’t remember reading much about her in the book. And I’m wondering if Black Mass, the movie, will place the same sort of emphasis on the relationship between Whitey and Cyr. Maybe because Cyr and Whitey had a child together, they will portray him as a family man of sorts? Or it could go the other way, if he ignores or wrongs the child and Cyr, maybe he could appear even more despicable? Yup, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Re: Black Mass Question #10 - Exclusions

Unread postby shadowydog » Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:10 am

RamblinRebel wrote:
Liz wrote:It seems like they try very hard to recapture certain aspects to the tee, but leave out others. That's what happened with PE.

Yes, exactly. On the first couple of viewings of PE I was terribly frustrated. But once I allowed myself to frame it as just a story – the story that Michael Mann wanted to tell - I enjoyed it. I have to keep reminding myself that Hollywood movies are really just art, and what we see is an artist’s vision, or interpretation of past events.

Another thing to consider is that Hollywood loves the personal interest story because it helps draw us in, and evokes emotion. The authors of Black Mass on the other hand are serious investigative journalists. Their primary goal, I think, is to uncover and report the truth with minimal stylization. And they also have to take care not to insinuate that someone was more deeply involved than they actually were. I didn’t watch the documentary but usually similar rules apply. If the women were not party to the crime it would make sense to omit them.

PE, the movie, really emphasized the relationship between Dillinger and Billy but I don’t remember reading much about her in the book. And I’m wondering if Black Mass, the movie, will place the same sort of emphasis on the relationship between Whitey and Cyr. Maybe because Cyr and Whitey had a child together, they will portray him as a family man of sorts? Or it could go the other way, if he ignores or wrongs the child and Cyr, maybe he could appear even more despicable? Yup, we’ll just have to wait and see.



Agree. It will be interesting to see how they handle his relationship with his son. From what I have read, he was devastated when his son died.
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Re: Black Mass Question #10 - Exclusions

Unread postby nebraska » Sat Oct 11, 2014 11:55 am

Liz wrote:
But nebraska, since you read the bio, did the authors mention Cyr in that?

Yes, they definitely mentioned her and the life she had with Whitey and talked about their son. But the biography talked about a lot of other things as well -- his childhood, his time in the military, his prison years, his relationship with Bill, his years in hiding ... the biography had an entirely different focus from the Black Mass book which really didn't tell us much about Whitey at all.

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Re: Black Mass Question #10 - Exclusions

Unread postby nebraska » Sat Oct 11, 2014 12:05 pm

RamblinRebel wrote:
Liz wrote:It seems like they try very hard to recapture certain aspects to the tee, but leave out others. That's what happened with PE.

Yes, exactly. On the first couple of viewings of PE I was terribly frustrated. But once I allowed myself to frame it as just a story – the story that Michael Mann wanted to tell - I enjoyed it. I have to keep reminding myself that Hollywood movies are really just art, and what we see is an artist’s vision, or interpretation of past events.


I wish that when someone like Mann wants to tell a story, he would create fiction and label it as such, just saying "based on actual events" and then using real names and locations, but distorting the facts, is not enough -- I have trouble sorting out the real from the fiction in my own mind, and I am much more likely to remember the inaccurate visuals I see in a movie than the true facts I read in a book. With PE it seemed odd to me that Mann spent thousands of dollars to rebuild a jail in the name of realism and accuracy and then made up significant events, combined characters, and otherwise distorted the truth.

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Re: Black Mass Question #10 - Exclusions

Unread postby Liz » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:58 pm

I hear ya, nebraska. I initially felt that way over Finding Neverland. But I quickly got over it. I think it was because it was such a sweet movie and I loved Johnny's portrayal of Barrie.

I was not as fond of Johnny's portrayal of Dillinger. I felt like Mann was holding Johnny back.
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Re: Black Mass Question #10 - Exclusions

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:21 am

Liz wrote:I was not as fond of Johnny's portrayal of Dillinger. I felt like Mann was holding Johnny back.
YES!!


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