On Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at the Dolby 88 Theater in New York City, Examiner.com attended a very special screening. The stories of notorious gangsters have long been a fascination to the general public. We love the entertainment their lives bring to the TV screen, while at the same time hate them for the heinous crimes that they commit.
American Documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger keenly details the 25 year tenure of legendary Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, the Irish Godfather and his refutable relationship with the FBI in his latest film "Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger," who up until his capture in 2011, placed second behind Osama Bin Laden on America’s Most Wanted List. The question of innocence was never a question, but whether or not he violated the gangster code by becoming a rat was to be determined. Berlinger and Bulger Defense Attorney Hank Brennan joined in on the screening of the film.
The film chronicles the family members of some of Bulger's victims as they prepare after 30 years to finally face him at his June 2013 trial, while also examining the probable corrupt dealings of specific Federal Agents whom in essence enabled Bulger to reign terror in Boston during the 1970s-mid 1980s. The known leader of the Winter Hill Gang, Bulger was a vicious thug never afraid to get his hands dirty, a man who carried out his own hits at times, but never received so much as a parking ticket. Attempts to shut down his operation would go unsuccessful due to him being somehow tipped off on various occasions, implicating certain law enforcement agents, therefore opening conversation in regards to an FBI cover-up, and furthermore creating the storyline behind this telling film.
An Oscar-nominated Berlinger stated, “I don’t profess to know if he was an informant, but I think the conventional wisdom that he was an informant and that all of his bad activities were the fault of one bad rogue agent and his supervisor is very difficult to believe. If he was an informant, there was a lot of irregularities.” In a Tuscon, Arizona prison where he will spend the rest of his days for the 31 out of 32 counts, and 11 out of 19 murders of which he was convicted of, Bulger stands firm in his statements saying he was never paid for any services for being an Informant, he was in fact the one paying off folks. Yes, he is a murderer, a drug dealer, a bank robber, a loanshark, all these bad things, but never can you call him a Rat. With the key members of his team already detained and sentenced from in the late 90s, it would take 16 years after that to finally catch up with him.
These 107 minutes of real life events sheds bright lights on the crooked world of our legal system blatantly caught in the act of aiding the bad guys; something that has been known to occur for years. In theaters June 27, it's a must see if you ask me.
Sade Graham contributed reporting.