Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

by Dick Lehr & Gerard O'Neill

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Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby Liz » Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:28 pm

Well, it's that time again, Noodlemantras.....the end of the discussion. :sad:

Thanks for joining us on another literary adventure. :)

So, to wrap it up, tell us......what did we miss? This is your chance to bring up any questions you’d like to throw out to the Noodlemantras or to share any other thoughts you may have.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Oct 21, 2014 1:42 pm

This may be a strange question, but I wonder how many here enjoyed the book and found the subject matter interesting. Why or why not? And are you looking forward to seeing the movie?

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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby Liz » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:05 pm

I'm going to be honest, nebraska......

Parts of the book were interesting, but I just couldn't get into it. It was so difficult for me to stay awake that I bought the audiobook and listened instead, then going back to book to make notes on the corresponding pages. I've only listened to an ONBC book once before, and regretted it because I missed things. I paid attention more this time, and it was easier to listen to than read. But still really dry.

I got so much more out of researching for tidbits and reading Firefly's tidbits and watching the Berlinger documentary.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Oct 21, 2014 2:46 pm

I really didn't care much for the book, myself. I supplemented it with a lot of outside reading and you tube videos and such in addition to the tidbits here. I find myself wondering what all the fuss is about and why anyone would want to make a movie about Whitey Bulger at this point. He is an aging criminal in prison for the rest of his life and his mob activity happened a long time ago, not to mention that he is hardly a heroic figure. He is pretty much unknown in my part of the world. My thought is that his mystique and his influence may be more prominent in the eastern part of the States. Maybe firefly can shed some light on that part of the story.

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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Oct 21, 2014 3:21 pm

I definitely agree in terms of the book -- very flat, reportorial but in the most boring way possible. I, too, had to venture far beyond the book to get any sense of the story, the characters. In terms of the movie, I certainly hope the director and writer have taken the book as a jump off point because yet another recap of the Whitey story would bore me to tears.

I am irritated because I think there was a story here. Maybe, just a thought, the closed mouth tendencies of the city's residents crippled the development of anything more interesting. On line, at least, it is painfully difficult to get anything about the family -- could not come up with a picture of Whitey's mom! The best interview I found with Billy in it was done by Irish radio. Everything in the US was so sensationalized that you might as well put them all on re-run.

More thoughts on the movie. I am determined to believe that this director would not be so ignorant to tell us a story we know by heart. His other movies have been interesting. As I mentioned the other day there is a good story here about men in groups, how they act, why loyalty is essential etc. I don't know but if I was the studio I would have insisted on a story that wasn't Whitey Redux. Keeping my fingers crossed.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby MaggyCutler » Tue Oct 21, 2014 5:45 pm

I haven't played any active role here but my husband and I have been reading what's being posted. We didn't know any thing about Whitey before his arrest and didn't really care -just another crook. We got interested because of Johnny's movie. My DH loved his Dillinger. I don't believe this will be a Whitey Redux for every body - he's unknown to most all the people we know. We're excited to see this - but wished the title would change. Maybe this will be Johnny's Oscar role?

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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:50 pm

MaggyCutler wrote:I haven't played any active role here but my husband and I have been reading what's being posted. We didn't know any thing about Whitey before his arrest and didn't really care -just another crook. We got interested because of Johnny's movie. My DH loved his Dillinger. I don't believe this will be a Whitey Redux for every body - he's unknown to most all the people we know. We're excited to see this - but wished the title would change. Maybe this will be Johnny's Oscar role?


I find it so interesting that so many people haven't heard of Whitey Bulger. It's kind of exciting in a weird way -- we are more provincial than I thought! Regional interests and obsessions. See, I'm from NYC and why Whitey and his brother where strongly featured there, and probably through the Northeast.

I am also excited that you and your husband enjoyed our posts on the book. Always good to know you're being read! In terms of the title, I have to agree. First of all using it would make readers think it's a movie based on a book, and that would be limiting. Second it implies some sort of occult thing, black magic, and that is not the story at all. I do hope it will be good. I loved JD's take on Dillinger. I am not a person that re-watches movies again and again -- they get stuck in the brain and you stop seeing them somehow. But Public Enemies is one of those movies I come back to again and again. I find the character that JD created very real, very intensely alive, and I guess this is what brings me back.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby Liz » Wed Oct 22, 2014 1:15 am

I agree with you all on the title. I think the title creates expectations......you expect that it will follow the book to some degree. And I'm not sure I want it to do that. I also agree with the negative connotation for those who are not familiar with the book.

I had never heard of Whitey Bulger until rumors started about the movie. I do think that if I had been in California when he was captured I would have noticed and been more interested.
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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby Cyn » Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:40 pm

Like a few others here, I, too, had never heard of the man until the rumors and blurbs started here on the Zone about Johnny possibly playing him in a movie. I’ve never seen anything about him online or in the news in my entire life, and I know others here in this area (southwestern Ohio) have never heard of him either, which is why it surprised me when this ONBC discussion first began and someone used the word “transfixed”, if I remember correctly, to describe the state that people are in about Bulger. Like someone else mentioned here in this thread, it seems that he was only a local criminal celebrity, in the northeastern part of the country.

Having said all of that, I wish I had read the book, since I’ve always been a true-crime aficionado, and it actually began in my teens when my dad gave me 2 letters that Dillinger had written in jail in Indiana. It fascinated me to no end to own them and hold them in my hands and picture Dillinger writing them in his jail cell, and it inspired me to start reading all the books that I could find on him, and then I branched out to read books about other famous criminals of his day, and then onto more current and recent criminals, so this book would have been right up my alley. But I don’t have the time that I used to have, to be able to sit down and read book after book. Like others here, even though I didn’t read any of the books associated with Bulger, I followed all the tidbits and posts from day one, and found them very interesting. The Italian Mafia has always fascinated me to no end, so the Irish equivalent would be interesting to read about, I’m sure.

As for the way that Johnny will play Bulger, I just want to say that I hope he doesn’t soften him up or make him (too) likeable, since he wasn’t/isn’t that way in real life, apparently, from all that I’ve read about him so far. Judging just by the expressions on Johnny’s face in some of the pics taken of the outside filming back in the summer, it doesn’t look like he’ll be portraying him sympathetically in the least, at least not when he’s killing someone or ordering someone to be killed, which is good. He shouldn’t try to whitewash a true-life character who was inherently bad with little to no morals, IMO.
He played Dillinger as a likeable, congenial guy with a heart because that’s how Dillinger actually was, so he did a fantastic, believable job of blending all the elements—good and bad—of Dillinger’s persona.
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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby Liz » Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:10 am

Thanks for weighing in, Cyn.

I have to agree with you that Johnny did play Dillinger as likable.

Can I ask more about those letters? You were in your teens. Did your dad buy them? What inspired him to give the letters to you?
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:45 am

I too had a tough time getting through the book, and would never have read it if Johnny wasn’t playing Whitey in this movie. And you can add me to the ranks of people who hadn’t heard of Bulger until the movie rumors started. Crime stories, on their own, generally don’t interest me. And stories of corruption only add to my (already too deep) cynicism. So for me this book had two strikes going in. But if you can get inside the head of the players, as I think we tried to do here with the tidbits, it becomes far more interesting. Also, about half-way through the book I started imagining (rightly or wrongly) Whitey playing with the FBI agents like marionette puppets. At that point it became much more entertaining. :lol: Perhaps that's not good. :-O

Liz wrote:Can I ask more about those letters? You were in your teens. Did your dad buy them? What inspired him to give the letters to you?

I'd love to hear more about the letters, too, Cyn!! If you're willing to share...

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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby shadowydog » Thu Oct 23, 2014 9:31 am

I think she mentioned the letters back when we were discussing Dillinger. :perplexed:
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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby Cyn » Fri Oct 24, 2014 6:52 pm

I’d rather not go into too much detail here on a public forum, but will say this much:
My dad was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio--as was I--and he later worked for the detective agency owned by the man who had planned and carried out the surprise bust of Dillinger and Mary Longnaker in the early 30s in a boarding house on West First St. in downtown Dayton.
The agency owner had either kept some of Dillinger and Longnaker’s belongings from the hotel room or ended up with them later when they went unclaimed, and he gave my dad 2 of the letters that had been amongst them when he worked for him years later, in the 50s. My dad had always been interested in the crime figures of that era, especially because he was a child when Dillinger was robbing banks and on the FBI’s most wanted list, and it was in the newspaper headlines so often. (It’s also a huge coincidence that my mother worked at the Mead Corporation for 30+ years, which was in the same block as the address of the boarding house that JD and ML were arrested in that night, but I don’t know if the boarding house still existed during any of the years that my mom worked at Mead Corp.)
The relationship with Mary ended after that bust and she married someone else, then came Evelyn 'Billie' Frechette (played by Marion Cotillard in PE), and then Polly Hamilton who was with him when he was killed at the Biograph Theatre. Mary’s name wasn’t even mentioned in PE, but she was one of the most important people in Dillinger’s relatively short life, since she had left her husband for him and they were engaged to be married. From what I could tell by the movie, they seemed to have combined the 2 women--Longnaker and Frechette--into the one character of Billie, because the hotel room bust of JD and Billie in the movie PE was exactly how the Dayton boarding house bust had happened. Most of the books I've read about him describes the Dayton bust in some detail.

Anyway, it was such a thrill for me when the news first came out that Johnny would be playing Dillinger, and then especially later on when I saw PE for the first time, when the wanted poster with the pic of Johnny made up to look like Dillinger and the words ‘Dayton, Ohio’ in big letters appeared onscreen.

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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby shaman-art » Sat Oct 25, 2014 9:50 am

I had never heard the name before Black Mass came up. I couldn't find anything that's longer than a few lines about him in German online.

It's fascinating to see that even within the US not everybodoy is familiar with Whitey Bulger. I'm pretty sure: Outside the US almost nobody knows anything about him. So while some of you are afraid that the movie might be too close to films/documentaries that have been done before, for the rest of the world the story is still fresh.

It was the same with Dillinger. If you would have asked people here in Europe about John Dilliger, people would have asked: Who?? Bonnie and Clyde? - Yes. Al Capone? - Yes. But Dilliger? No.

But I agree: They should change the title.

I didn't have much time recently, but I read most of what was posted here. Very fascinating. For me digging deeper into this story is like visiting a foreign world. I liked the book (and also "Whitey"). For me those nonfiction books read like fiction.

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Re: Black Mass Question #21 - Final Thoughts

Unread postby marija » Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:40 pm

shaman-art wrote:I had never heard the name before Black Mass came up. I couldn't find anything that's longer than a few lines about him in German online.

It's fascinating to see that even within the US not everybodoy is familiar with Whitey Bulger. I'm pretty sure: Outside the US almost nobody knows anything about him. So while some of you are afraid that the movie might be too close to films/documentaries that have been done before, for the rest of the world the story is still fresh.

It was the same with Dillinger. If you would have asked people here in Europe about John Dilliger, people would have asked: Who?? Bonnie and Clyde? - Yes. Al Capone? - Yes. But Dilliger? No.

But I agree: They should change the title.

I didn't have much time recently, but I read most of what was posted here. Very fascinating. For me digging deeper into this story is like visiting a foreign world. I liked the book (and also "Whitey"). For me those nonfiction books read like fiction.

:highfive: That's excactly my thoughts,too. No one have noticed the Bulger case or can remember it, if it was in the news.
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