My calendar had been marked for weeks in bright red highlighter. Every time I saw an image of actor Steve Buscemi in his dapper 1920′s attire (my favorite decade in American history), my anticipation grew. I began to research, realizing that Martin Scorsese and producer Terry Winter (The Sopranos), I was nearly breathless with anticipation.
What drew me to Boardwalk Empire? It was a combination of items. I love the 1920s. There was a romance to that particular era, evident in the films, the clothing, and the music. America was blossoming from a gawky teenage girl and into the full flower of beauty during that magical era. Much of the growing process involved film, music, gangsters, and Prohibition.
When HBO‘s BOARDWALK EMPIRE premiered last night, I was as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning.
Scoresese and Winter didn’t let me down. Boardwalk Empire chronicles the life of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi). Nucky Thompson is slick, smooth, and runs the Boardwalk with a suaveness that rivals the cunning of a fox. I don’t think Scoresese could have found anyone better than Buscemi to play Thompson, for he’s able to emit the perfect persona with his sly, crooked smile and darting eyes. Yes, Buscemi fits my image of a gangster of the era, more realistic than any Hollywood has ever attempted to portray in the past. Buscemi is not a handsome man, instead he has that down home reality to his features that makes him more believable as a human being with every close-up that is filmed. Human is what Nucky Thompson is, aspiring for more on the boardwalk. Nucky is complex in his greed and maneuvering, and all the while revealing the little bit of a compassionate heart that he still has beating within him. This heart is shown in his behavior toward Margaret Schroeder (Kelly MacDonald), a pregnant woman who endures a horrific beating from her drunken husband.
The storyline of Boardwalk Empire leaps from section to section, high paced, filled with action and the underground gangland activity that was so prevalent during the time. There are startling little bits of history that will make any fan of the era and mobster history smile with pleasure. My favorite clip was a war scarred Jimmy Darmody ( Michael Pitt) having a conversation with a very young Al Capone (Stephen Graham), while they waited to drive their ‘bosses’ about town. (No, Al Capone didn’t start out his gangster career as the headman–he started at the bottom).
My overall opinion of Boardwalk Empire–excellent and stunning. I felt as if I had been drawn into a perfectly portrayed world of the past, from the movements of Prohibition, Women’s Suffrage, and into the realm of organized crime. Beautifully written for the screen (adapted from the book by Nelson Johnson, Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City), Boardwalk Empire is a must see on your Sunday night line-up.