|Headin' Home (1920)
Babe Ruth, Ruth Taylor, William Sheer, Margaret Seddon,
Frances Victory, James A. Marcus
Director: Lawrence C. Windom; Producers: William Shea and
Herbert H. Yudkin
Writing Credits: Arthur 'Bugs' Baer (titles), Earle Browne
After helping Arnold Rothstein fix the 1919 World Series, Abe
Attell had a run of luck gambling. He decided to invest in a
film and with amazing chutzpah invested in a baseball movie,
this one, starring none other than the game's greatest star,
George Herman "Babe" Ruth.
Attell arranged with fight promoter Tex Rickard to book the
film for a week at Madison Square Garden. For prices
ranging from 25 cents to $1.00, patrons could watch Headin'
Home, hear the fifty-piece Black Devil Band, and see
heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey in person.
The film is not very noteworthy save for the Babe and for the
presence of Raoul Walsh on Headin' Home's crew (Walsh
was listed as "supervisor").
Betty Compson, Lawford Davidson, Hedda Hopper, J. Barney
Sherry, Lucy Fox
Director: Alan Crosland
Rothstein's future mistress Inez Norton doubled for star Betty
The Wedding March (1928)
Erich von Stroheim, Fay Wray, Matthew Betz, Zasu Pitts,
Director: Erich von Stroheim; Producer: Pat Powers.
On the night of Rothstein's shooting he dined with Inez Norton
at Manhattan's posh Colony Restaurant. From there the
couple took a cab to Times Square, where they split up:
Rothstein heading for Lindy's Restaurant to do business;
Norton to the nearby Rivoli Theater to see Erich von
Stroheim's silent epic, The Wedding March, a film about the
evils of marrying for money
The Mouthpiece (1932)
Warren William, Noel Francis, Aline MacMahon, John Wray,
Mae Madison, Ralph Ince
Director: James Flood, Elliott Nugent
Warren William (a largely forgotten actor who was good in
just about any role) stars as attorney Vincent "Vince" Day, a
character very, very loosely based on Rothstein's own
attorney Bill "The Great Mouthpiece" Fallon.
Lady for a Day (1933)
Warren William, May Robson, Guy Kibbee, Glenda Farrell,
Neds Sparks, Walter Connoly, Jean Parker, Nat Pendleton,
Barry Norton, Halliwell Hobbes
Director: Frank Capra; Producer: Harry Cohn
Writing Credits: Robert Riskin, Damon Runyon (story)
Not a whole hell of a lot to directly do with Rothstein, but the
best film version of the works of Rothstein pal Damon
Runyon—and the best celluloid recreation of Damon
Runyon's (and Rothstein's) Broadway. Nominated for four
Oscars' Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best
Adaptation. Great fun, a great film. See it.
International House (1933)
Peggy Hopkins Joyce, W. C. Fields, Rudy Vallee, Stu Irwin,
George Burns, Gracie Allen, Cab Calloway, Bela Lugosi,
Rose Marie, Franklin Pangborn
Director: Edward Sutherland; Producer: Emanuel Cohen
Writing Credits: Neil Brant, Walter DeLeon, Louis E. Heifetz,
Rothstein gambling house steerer Peggy Hopkins Joyce
portrays herself in this bizarre and ribald pre-code comedy.
Now I'll Tell (1934)
Spencer Tracy, Helen Twelvetrees, Alice Faye, Robert
Gleckler, Henry O'Neill, Hobert Cavanagh, G. P. Huntley, Jr.,
Shirley Temple, Ronnie Cosby, Ray Cooke, Frank Marlowe,
Clarence Wilson, Barbara Weeks, Theodore Newton, Vince
Director: Edwin J. Burke. Producer: Winfield Sheehan
Based on Carolyn Rothstein's memoirs, Now I'll Tell, and
improbably features Spencer Tracy as Murray Golden, the
character based on Arnold Rothstein--and includes the yet-
unknown Shirley Temple in a bit part. Reviewers praised
Tracy, but the film did only mediocre business. "Mrs.
Rothstein," Donald Henderson Clarke, co-author of Now I'll
Tell, noted, "was consulted frequently during the preparation
of the scenario, at which time she was engaged in getting her
own material in shape. A motion picture is not constructed on
the plan of a book of facts. In this instance, both the film and
the book of facts have been built upon the same material, but
the film has been fictionalized, as is necessary." Clarke was
right. The film placed even more emphasis of A.R.'s
relationship with Carolyn Rothstein, than her own book did,
and included a highly fanciful theory regarding her role in his
death. In any case, playwright Mark Linder sued Fox, claiming
the studio had plagiarized his failed stage play Room 349
(alternately titled Bumped Off).
The American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-
1940 lists two interesting names in bit parts: Susan Fleming
(Mrs. Harpo Marx) and Inez Norton, Arnold Rothstein's
Said Mordaunt Hall in the June 26, 1934 New York Times:
"The Roxy's present pictorial offering is a compilation of
incidents culled chiefly from Mrs. Arnold Rothstein's book,
'Now I'll Tell,' but the persons involved have different names.
The central figure, for instance, is not known as Arnold
Rothstein, but as Murray Golden, who, of course, is a dyed-in-
the-wool gambler, Arnold Rothstein. Although it is by-no-
means an edifying narrative, it is a forceful, expertly fashioned
"As Golden, Spencer Tracy gives a vivid performance. It is,
indeed, as thorough a characterization as has been seen on
Released in the United Kingdom as When New York Sleeps.
Manhattan Melodrama (1934)
Clark Gable, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Leo Carillo, Nat
Pendleton, George Sidney, Isabel Jewell, Muriel Evans,
Thomas E. Jackson, Isabelle Keith, Frank Conroy
Director: W.S. Van Dyke, George Cukor; Producer: David O.
Music: Richard Rodgers (song "The Bad in Every Man [Blue
Moon]"), William Axt
Arnold Rothstein doesn't appear in this classic 1930s classic
gangster film, but the plot revolves a shooting in a hotel room
and a forgotten overcoat that looks a lot like somebody else's
overcoat—much like in Rothstein's own murder. At one point
in the film a police official alludes to how similar the case is to
the Rothstein killing. Manhattan Melodrama is most
remembered because it was this movie that John Dillinger
and Anna Sage, "The Lady in Red," saw on the night of July
22,1934 at Chicago's Biograph theatre before Dillinger was
gunned down by federal agents.
Arthur Caesar won a Best Original Story Oscar for his work
on Manhattan Melodrama.
Bullets or Ballots (1936)
Edward G. Robinson, Joan Blondell, Barton MacLane,
Humphrey Bogart, Frank McHugh, Joe King, Dick Purcell,
George E. Stone, Joseph Crehan, Henry O'Neill
Director: William Keighley; Producer: Louis F. Edelman
Robinson plays "Johnny Blake," a tough New York City
Detective, based on real-life cop Johnny Broderick.
Broderick was a throwback. He once threw Rothstein
bodyguard Legs Diamond into a garbage can. On another
occasion, he attended a gangster's funeral and literally spat
in the deceased's eye.
What Bullets or Ballots doesn't tell you (among other things)
is that when the Communist-led International Fur Workers
Union struck in February 1926, with guidance from Rothstein,
according to Communist party operative Maurice Malkin the
union paid off to the tune of $100,000 went, with "between
$45,000 and $50,000 was paid Johnny Broderick, head of
the Industrial Squad."
In this far-fetched plot Blake (Robinson) infiltrates the
numbers racket and butts head with mobster Nick "Bugs"
Fenner (Bogart). This was the first of five films Robinson and
Bogart did together.
Rose of Washington Square (1939)
Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Al Jolson, William Frawley, Joyce
Compton, Horace McMahon, Moroni Olsen
Director: Gregory Ratoff; Producers: Nunnally Johnson and
Farryl F. Zanuck
The story of an allegedly fictional Ziegfeld Follies star and her
con-man husband. Fanny Brice didn't think it was fictional
enough and sued Twentieth-Century Fox sued for $100,000.
She settled for $40,000. Nicky Arnstein received another
The Man Who Talked Too Much (1940)
George Brent, Virginia Bruce, Brenda Marshall, Richard
Barthelmess, William Lundigan, John Litel
Director: Vincent Sherman
A re-make of The Mouthpiece, with George Brent in the
Fallon role. Also released as Broadway Lawyer and The
Edward G. Robinson, Nina Foch, Hugh Marlowe, Jayne
Mansfield, Albert Dekker
Director: Lewis Allen; Producers: Edmund Grainger, Bryan
Yet another re-make of The Mouthpiece, with Edward G.
Robinson in the Fallon role.
Guys and Dolls (1955)
Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, Vivian Blaine,
Robert Keith, Stubby Kaye, B. S. Pully, Johnny Silver,
Sheldon Leonard, Danny Dayton, Regis Toomey
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz; Producer: Samuel Goldwyn
Writing Credits: Abe Burrows, Joseph L. Mankiewicz
The musical version of Damon Runyon's Times Square. The
character of Nathan Detroit
(Sinatra) was supposedly originally based on Rothstein, and
Sky Masterson (Brando) on Alvin "Titanic" Thompson.
Nominated for four Oscars. The best part, without doubt, is
Stubby Kaye singing Sit Down You're Rockin' The Boat.
Beau James (1957)
Bob Hope, Vera Miles, Paul Douglas, Alexis Smith, Darren
McGavin, Joe Mantell, Horace McMahon, Richard Shannon,
Willis Bouchey, Sid Melton, Walter Catlett
Director: Melville Shavelson; Producer: Jack Rose
Non-Original Music: Richard Rodgers (song "Manhattan"),
No Rothstein in sight but the only film based on the career on
New York City's corrupt Mayor James J. Walker. Typical Bob
Hope vehicle. Cameo appearances by George Jessel and
Jimmy Duranty as themselves. Narration by Walter Winchell.
Based on the book by Gene Fowler.
Pocketful of Miracles (1959)
Glenn Ford, Bette Davis, Hope Lange, Arthur O'Connell,
Peter Falk, Thomas Mitchell
Producer, Director: Frank Capra
Capra's hugely inferior remake of Lady for a Day.
Nonetheless, nominated for three Academy Awards' Best
Supporting Actor (Peter Falk), Color Cinematography (Edith
Head and Walter Plunkett), Song (James Van Heusen and
Sammy Cahn for "Pocketful of Miracles"). Glenn Ford as a
The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960)
Ray Danton, Karen Steele, Elaine Stewart, Jesse White,
Simon Oakland, Warren Oates, Frank DeKova, Joseph
Ruskin, Dyan Cannon, Richard Gardner
Director: Budd Boetticher
Writing Credit: Joseph Landon
This rather forgettable film had Legs Diamond involved in
Rothstein's murder. Robert Lowery portrayed Rothstein.
Cinematography by Lucien Ballard, who went on to do The
Butterfield 8 (1960)
Elizabeth Taylor, Lawrence Harvey, Eddie Fisher, Dina
Director: Daniel Mann; Producer: Pandro S. Berman.
You might not think there's an Arnold Rothstein connection
here, but there is.
On the night of November 4, 1928, New York's Mayor Jimmy
Walker was at Westchester County's Woodmansten Inn with
his girlfriend Betty Compton. There, he got news of A.R.'s
shooting. In the Woodmansten chorus line was a teenaged
showgirl named Starr Faithful. Coincidentally, she was a
neighbor of Walker's, down on St. Mark's Place in Greenwich
Faithfull soon came to her own sad end. On June 8, 1931 her
bruised body washed ashore at Long Island's West Long
Beach. Local authorities announced it was foul play and that
a well-known—but unnamed—politician was involved. Her
case briefly aroused considerable public interest, but
ultimately nothing further was learned concerning her demise.
Novelist John O'Hara based his 1935 novel, Butterfield 8, on
the case. Elizabeth Taylor won her first Academy Award for
her portrayal of the Faithfull character, Gloria Wandrous, in
the 1960 film version.
King of the Roaring Twenties—The Story of
Arnold Rothstein (1961)
David Janssen, Dianne Foster, Mickey Rooney, Jack Carson,
Diana Dors, Murvyn Vie, Regis Toomey, Robert Ellenstein,
Teri Janssen, Jim Baird
Director: Joseph M. Newman; Producer: Samuel Bischoff,
Writing Credits: Leo Katcher, Jo Swerling
A pre-Fugitive David Janssen portrays Rothstein in his usual
edgy manner. Mickey Rooney does as surprisingly good job
as the fictitious "Johnny Burke." Joseph Schildkraut portrays
A.R.'s father, Abraham Rothstein. William Demarest (of My
Three Sons fame), who claimed to have been introduced to
Rothstein on the night of Rothstein's death, had a small role in
Based on Leo Katcher's Rothstein biography (Katcher
assisted with the screenplay), The Big Bankroll, and
released under that title in the United Kingdom.
Funny Girl (1968)
Barbra Steisand, Omar Sharif, Kay Medford, Anne Francis,
Walter Pidgeon, Lee Allen, Mae Questel, Gerald Mohr, Frank
Faylen, Mittie Lawrence, Getrude Flynn
Director: William Wyler; Producer: Ray Stark
The story of Broadway star Fanny Brice (Striesand) and her
conman (and Rothstein henchman) husband Nicky Arnstein
(Sharif). Oddly enough, Rothstein doesn't show up, but
formerly blacklisted actor Lloyd Gough appears as Bill "The
Great Mouthpiece" Fallon. Nominated for eight Oscars
including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress. Barbra
Streisand won for Best Actress.
A good critique of Funny Girl's factual basis can be found at
The Great Gatsby (1974)
Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern, Karen Black,
Bruce Wilson, Sam Waterston
Director: Jack Clayton; Producer: David Merrick
Howard Da Silva portrays F. Scott Fitzgerald's Rothstein
character, Meyer Wolfsheim, the gambler who wore cufflinks
made of human teeth and fixed the 1919 World Series.There
were two previous film versions of The Great Gatsby, in 1926
and 1949 (with Alan Ladd). This was the first Gatsby film to
feature the Wolfsheim character. Screenplay by Francis Ford
Coppola. Oscar winner for Costume Design and for Music
(Scoring: Original Song Score and/or Adaptation).
The Godfather (Part II) (1974)
Al Pacino, Amerigo Tot, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Robert
DeNiro, John Cazale, Talia Shire, Lee Strasberg, Michael V.
Gazzo, G.D. Spradlin, Richard Bright, Bruno Kirby
Director/Producer: Francis Ford Coppola
No Arnold Rothstein here, but Vito Corleone dubs young
hoodlum, Hyman Suchowski, "Hyman Roth" because of his
admiration for Rothstein ("I've loved baseball ever since
Arnold Rothstein fixed the World Series in 1919," Roth will
eventually tell Michael Corleone). Lee Strasberg plays the
older Roth; John Megna portrays him as a young man.
Tony Curtis, Anjanette Comer, Michael Callan, Warren
Berlinger, Vic Tayback
Director: Menahem Golan
No Rothstein, but Lepke Buchalter (Curtis), his sidekick
Gurrah Shapiro (Berlinger), Lucky Luciano (Tayback), Little
Augie Orgen, and Dutch Schultz.
Gangster Wars (1981)
Michael Nouri, Joe Penny, Brian Benben, Jonathan Banks,
Richard S. Castellano
Director: Richard C. Sarafian
Writing Credits: Richard DeKoker
All the usual suspects turn up in this slow-moving flick: Meyer
Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Dutch Schultz, Joe Masseria, Al
Capone. Veteran character actor George DiCenzo is
Rothstein and also portrayed him in the 1981 TV-miniseries
The Gangster Chronicles.
Eight Men Out (1988)
John Cusack, Clifton James, Michael Lerner, Christopher
Lloyd, John Mahoney, Charlie Sheen, David Strathairn, D.B.
Sweeney, Don Harvey, Michael Rooker, Perry Lang, James
Read, Jace Alexander, Gordon Clapp, Richard Edson, Bill
Irwin, Michael Mantell, Kevin Tighe, Studs Terkel, John
Director: John Sayles
Writing Credits: Eliot Asinof (book), John Sayles (movie)
A quite faithful adaption of Eliot Asinof's finely written study of
the Black Sox scandal, Eight Men Out makes the rare
mistake of being too faithful to the original book. Filled with
far too many characters, many of whom look like one another
(particularly when wearing unnumbered White Sox uniforms),
the film suffers from a lack of focus.
Actor Michael Lerner's portrayal of Rothstein is closer to
Wolfsheim than to Rothstein. Lerner invariably "plays the
kinds of characters who always seem to be sweating," noted
film critic Leonard Maltin. Rothstein never sweated. Darren
McGavin's portrayal of the smooth, self-assured,
sophisticated, and powerful gambler Gus Sands in Barry
Levinson's fine 1984 film, The Natural, is far closer to the
Christian Slater, Patrick Dempsey, Richard Grieco, Costas
Mandylor, Lara Flynn Boyle
Director: Michael Karbelnikoff
The story of Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, and
Frank Costello. F. Murray Abraham portrays Rothstein.
Warren Beatty, Annette Benning, Harvey Keitel, Ben
Kingsley, Elliott Gould, Joe Mantegna, Richard C. Sarafian,
Bebe Neuwirth, Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi
Director: Barry Levinson
Writing Credits: Dean Jennings, James Toback
Close, but again no Rothstein, though his associates Bugsy
Siegel (Beatty), Meyer Lansky (Kingsley), Lucky Luciano
(Keitel), and Frank Costello (Mantegna) make appearances.
Nominated for ten Oscars, won for Best Art Direction and
Best Costume Design. Named best picture of 1991 by the
Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
Lansky (Made-for-TV 1999)
Richard Dreyfuss, Eric Roberts, Anthony LaPaglia, Max
Perlich, Illeana Douglas
Director: John McNaughton
The film gets Rothstein's attitudes toward the liquor traffic
right, but for no good reason gets his murder wrong. Stanley
DeSantis portrays Rothstein. Richard Dreyfuss is Lansky.
The Great Gatsby (Made-for-TV 2001)
Mira Sorvino,Toby Stephens, Paul Rudd, Martin Donovan,
Francie Swift, William Camp
Director: Robert Markowitz
Jerry Grayson portrays Meyer Wolfsheim.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO - Debuted September
Steve Buscemi. Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, Michael
Shannon, Shea Whigman, Aleksa Palladino, Stephen Graham
Directors: Martin Scorcese, Timothy Van Patten, Allen
Chronicles the life and times of Nucky Thompson, the
undisputed ruler of Atlantic City, who was equal parts
politician and gangster.
The series won a Golden Globe Award for Best Television
Steve Buscemi won a Golden Globe Award for Best
Performance by an Actor in a Television Series—Drama and
was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series.
Michael Stuhlbarg portrays Arnold Rothstein.
|An Arnold Rothstein Filmography
Films featuring the gambler Arnold Rothstein
as a character, a character based on Rothstein, or
taking a look (however fictionalized) at Arnold
|Helen Twelvetrees comforts Spencer
Tracy in 1934's Now I'll Tell