Tougher than Fiction
1. Two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn plays nefarious gangster Mickey Cohen. While the film isn’t a biopic by any means, the Jewish mobster certainly led an enthralling enough life to merit one. Cohen was born in Brooklyn, New York, then moved to LA when he was six. Cohen’s brother ran a gin-mill during prohibition; young Mickey was in charge of delivering the goods, which is where he learned how to fight. He fell in love with boxing, moved back east to be a pro-fighter, but decided to change career paths after being beaten to a bloody pulp. Cohen found plenty of work as a thug for hire, eventually arriving in Chicago to work for Al Capone. After surviving a hit unscathed, Cohen moved back to LA to team up with Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, the glossy gangster portrayed by Warren Beatty in “Bugsy” (Harvey Keitel played Cohen). Together, Siegel and Cohen changed the face of organized crime on the west coast, controlling drugs, gambling, unions, and politics, among other dastardly deeds. In 1961, Cohen was brought down on charges of tax evasion and sentenced to 15 years in Alcatraz where he was partially paralyzed after being beaten by an inmate with a lead pipe.