Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


It's the beginning of a lot of things
November 7, 2010 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Life Magazine: The Real Boardwalk Empire: Nucky Johnson's Old Atlantic City

In Martin Scorsese's new HBO series Boardwalk Empire, a politically connected mastermind named Nucky Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi) runs 1920s Atlantic City with an iron fist. In reality, Atlantic City was the fiefdom of Enoch "Nucky" Johnson, a Republican party boss and kingmaker who held uncontested control of the South Jersey city from 1911 to 1941.
posted by Potomac Avenue (23 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Was the theme music Brian Jonestown Massacre back then too?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:47 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Potomac Avenue: The Real Boardwalk Empire: Nucky Johnson's Old Atlantic City

Worth noting that the Boardwalk Empire was a non-fiction book before it was a TV show.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:53 AM on November 7, 2010


I'm enjoying the series. BTW -- it's inspired by Nelson Johnson's book: Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City.
posted by ericb at 10:53 AM on November 7, 2010


Jinx --- ph, you owe me a Coke!
posted by ericb at 10:54 AM on November 7, 2010


Err -- in light of the show's dominant theme, make it a whiskey!
posted by ericb at 10:55 AM on November 7, 2010


More like formaldehyde and caramel coloring.
posted by elizardbits at 11:03 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looking at photos from the period & reading about it, I always want to be back there, until I realize I'd be w/o modern medicine & have no marketable skills.
posted by broken wheelchair at 11:30 AM on November 7, 2010


Looking at photos from the period & reading about it, I always want to be back there, until I realize I'd be w/o modern medicine & have no marketable skills.

"OK, Mr. Wheelchair, I see you have 10 years as a systems analyst. Now, what exactly is that?"
"It's... complicated to explain."
"Well listen, the job is hauling wheels of cheese, it pays 10 bucks."
"An hour? Well I gues-"
"A day."
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 11:54 AM on November 7, 2010


I always want to be back there, until I realize I'd be w/o modern medicine & have no marketable skills.

Kinda like now.
posted by 3.2.3 at 11:56 AM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does it get any better after the first 2 eps? I've got the next 2, but I'm not too motivated. I think I'd rather watch a documentary. Nucky is no Al or Tony.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:00 PM on November 7, 2010


Thanks for posting this. I'm only a few episodes in and I'm really looking forward to digging more into the historical background. I had completely missed the connection between Nucky's comment about starting a beauty pageant and the Miss America pageant.
posted by Dr. Zira at 12:00 PM on November 7, 2010


mrgrimm: Yes. Episode 2 was ehhh but set up a lot of important shit. This latest episode was possibly the coolest thing I've seen on TV since the Sopranos went off the air. They purvey a similar feeling of..."DAAAAAAAAAAAAMN THAT SHIT WAS COOOOOOOWOOOOOLD BLOOOOOODDDDDED"

I really like it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:08 PM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks, PA. I'll give it another shot.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:18 PM on November 7, 2010


I'm really enjoying the show, I love drama that immerses you in an alien world.
posted by octothorpe at 12:31 PM on November 7, 2010


Nucky is a fantastic protagonist, because unlike Tony or Al, he's not actually a psychopath. He is a flawed character and corrupt politician, but is actually possessed of a moral center and acts accordingly. He's the closest thing to a 'good guy' the series has, even compared to the Fed pursuing him (a humorless self-flagellating religious zealot who tortures an informant without the slightest hesitation).
posted by mrstrotsky at 1:10 PM on November 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


There are some great links in here, thanks!
posted by nonmerci at 3:06 PM on November 7, 2010


Does it get any better after the first 2 eps?

If you like your drama without drama (conflict), the show's great. Otherwise, it's terrible.
posted by dobbs at 3:36 PM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it is worth noting that Nuck really isn't a gangster or a mob boss at al, the man wasn't historically and the character is neither written nor acted that way. That seems to turn off a lot of people who were expecting Sopranos-during-Prohibition, but it actually leads to a much deeper and richer texture: he isn't some thug who rose to the top of the thug pile like Tony S, or some guy with tons of cunning and business savvy who prefers to make a living on the wrong side of the law, like Stringer B, he is the boss of a massive political machine, and he wets his beak in every pot in town, with no discrimination between legal and illegally earned money, and no division between white or black rich or poor, if a dime bag gets sold in the park, Nuck wants in. And that's what is great about the whole thing: he *isn't* a criminal out to flout the law, like Al C, or get his way over other people like Lucky L, he is just zis guy, you know? And if you want to do whatever the fuck it is that you are doing in the City of Atlantic, well, you'll have to chip in a little taste for the right.
posted by paisley henosis at 3:54 PM on November 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just dropping in to say that the big funeral scene that opens Episode 2 was filmed on my block. A location scout actually asked about shooting off the terrace of my apartment, but alas they went to the roof of the building for the dramatic overhead shot of the church.
posted by stargell at 4:11 PM on November 7, 2010


This show is proving in full something many of us have already known: Steve Buscemi is highly underrated as an actor. I have been waiting for the project that he would take the starring role in, because I knew he'd nail it.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:58 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Steve Buscemi is excellent, but I think I'm not much of a Scorsese fan. The only movie of his I actually like is Last Temptation, and it seems (since it bombed) he's moved directly away from that style.

Nucky is a fantastic protagonist, because unlike Tony or Al, he's not actually a psychopath

Tony, maybe. Al, no way.

If you like your drama without drama (conflict), the show's great. Otherwise, it's terrible.

Honestly, yeah, that's my take so far. I like interesting characters, relationships, plots. It can be subtle, but not subtle enough that I don't care about any of the characters. I think "Miller's Crossing" is a good take on the prohibition-era liquor "business," though I don't care how historically accurate it is, nor do I really like any of the characters (save Johnny Caspar of course).

De gustibus and all that. I will give the third episode a fair shake.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:30 AM on November 8, 2010


De gustibus and all that. I will give the third episode a fair shake.

Keep watching. The first few episodes are like a place setting. After that, it becomes brilliant in its scope, historical reach, and performances.
posted by Edison Carter at 11:42 AM on November 8, 2010


I've been watching this and have become captivated by it. The production values and the acting are both outstanding, and I appreciate that some of the characters are complex, or at least complicated.

Thanks for the links, PA -- looking forward to reading through them in my spare time.
posted by mosk at 12:36 PM on November 16, 2010


« Older Pony plays with...  |  Texas conservative lawmakers, ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments