For some reason on October 28, 1919, Congress passed the Volstead Act, which prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within the United States. Of course, the largest cities in the country weren’t interested in stopping their citizens from boozing. Instead, they left the understaffed members of the FBI to go after these bootleggers. This lasted until December 5, 1933, when the Twenty-first amendment repealed prohibition in the United States, and everyone was allowed to have a drink without having to worry about being thrown into prison. The tales from this period though, make for cinematic gold, as it is impossible to decipher who are the goodies, and who are the baddies. Here are the movie bootleggers that made the best booze.
Written by Nick Cave and based on the novel, The Wettest County In The World, John Hillcoat’s tale focuses on the Bondurant brothers who look to supply Franklin County, Virginia, with all of the moonshine that they desire. Lawless received good reviews upon its release, with the acting talent of Tom Hardy and Shia La Beouf coming in for particular praise.
This Coen brothers classic depicts the power struggle between two rival gangsters which thrusts Gabriel Byrne’s Tom Reagan into the middle of their quarrel. Albert Finney’s Leo O’Bannon runs the unnamed city during the prohibition and Jon Polito’s Johnny Casper looks to take his authority from him.
The most famous gangster of all time, Al Capone, was always going to garner plenty of cinematic attention after his demise. And the perfect man to star in the role is, of course, Robert De Niro. Brian De Palma’s 1987 gangster epic tells the story of Elliot Ness’s pursuit to bring Capone to justice in Prohibition era Chicago.
Al Capone directly inspired Paul Muni’s Tony Camonte, and he goes around selling large amounts of beer to speakeasies and bars around the city. His illegal activities are even slightly heroic.