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Monday, October 15, 2012

Boardwalk Empire 3.5: "10 L'Chaim"

A superb Boardwalk Empire last night, with a multitude of sharp lines and situations.  But my favorite goes to Eddie Cantor - a real entertainer in our history - who not only speaks Yiddishisms, but serves them with a sense of humor.  He tutors Nucky in the toast "L'Chaim" - to life! - and adds that he knows some people in prison serving "10 years L'Chaim".

But there's a dark side to Nucky's relationship with Eddie.  Like the Johnny Fontane character in the Godfather (presumably based on the real life Frank Sinatra), the real life Eddie Cantor in Boardwalk Empire is under Nucky's thumb.  Nucky wants Eddie to star in a new music with Billie.  When Eddie refuses - he doesn't want to renege on a commitment he made to Jerome Kern (another real life musical writer and producer) - Nucky has Chalkie come over and make Eddie an offer he can't refuse.

This is in character for the new, tougher, more violent Nucky that we met at the end of season two last year, when Nucky shoots Jimmy point blank.  Nucky's standing up to everyone in this season - refusing not to get his way - including even Arnold Rothstein, who calls Nucky out on his coming up to New York just to see Billie.  Nucky retorts to Rothstein: unlike you, I'm not dead below the waist.  Good line.

Nucky also tries to take out Rosetti, which, as always with Rosetti, is quite a story in itself.  We see Rosetti at play - first in auto-erotic-asphyxia with a woman, then "joking" with a newspaper delivery boy.  The joke is actually pretty media savvy - as many Boardwalk Empire lines are.  Rosetti asks the delivery boy if the newspaper is new; the boy (about 13-14) assures Rosetti it is;  Rosetti then asks, looking at the newspaper, why "all this stuff happened yesterday"?   That's indeed the reality of newspapers, and one reason why their circulation has been declining in our Internet age.   But back to Nucky: he sends a team to take out Rosettit, whom they find, ropes around his and the woman's neck.  Rosetti manages to grab a gun, shooting ensues, and when the gun play is over Rosetti is fine but the woman and the newspaper boy have been shot to death.   We already knew it wasn't safe to get involved in any kind of joke line with Rosetti, because he was prone to kill the conversationist. This time, even though Rosetti seems to like the newspaper boy, he dies because of his association with Rosetti and his joking anyway.   A chilling O'Henryesque twist.

There are also some good continuing story lines with the fictional Van Alden in Chicago and real life Cabinet Secretaries in Washington.  And it was good to see Dominic Chianese again (he had a good evening, with major role in The Good Wife over on CBS).  But speaking of real life: was Eddie Cantor really ever forced by a mobster to back out of a part in a musical?  I don't know - I'll look into it and see what I can find - but it was an instructive moment in an excellent episode.

See also Boardwalk Empire 3.1: Happy News Year 1923  ... Boardwalk Empire 3.2: Gasoline and the White Rock Girl ... Boardwalk Empire 3.3: The Showgirl and The Psycho


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