(AP) LAS VEGAS — A mob museum slated to open soon in Las Vegas will trace Hollywood’s portrayal of mobsters from the birth of the silver screen in a violence-fraught exhibit that organizers said is not intended for children.
Screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi, who wrote the book “Wiseguy” and then adapted it into the Martin Scorsese film “Goodfellas,” told The Associated Press that he will help usher in the exhibit when the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement opens in Las Vegas in mid-February. Pileggi will appear in a five-minute documentary on the mob and pop culture that will be shown near the end of the museum tour.
The film, part of an exhibit called “The Myth of the Mob,” will attempt to explain why so many people are fascinated with organized crime. The exhibit will also feature costumes from mobster-centric TV shows and movies, including “The Sopranos.”
“Just because you are depicting something ugly, it doesn’t mean you are honoring it,” Pileggi said. “I don’t know too many gangster movies where the gangster wins in the end. These are tales of morality and that is the key to them.”
The downtown Las Vegas museum will open at a former courthouse where a famous mob hearing that helped expose organized crime to ordinary Americans was held in 1950. It is expected to feature gangster artifacts, including the wall from Chicago’s St. Valentine’s Day massacre, the only gun recovered at the mass shooting and the barber chair where hit man Albert Anastasia’s life came to an end in 1957.
Dennis Barrie, the museum’s director, said he interviewed Pileggi for up to three hours to create the five-minute film on the history of gangster flicks. Barrie said he wants museum-goers to explore whether popular movies glamourize mob culture, or get it right.