Those familiar with the James “Whitey” Bulger story have been saying for decades how the tale of the ruthless Boston gangster and his look-the-other-way FBI handler is the stuff of Hollywood movies. The attractive, yet wildly violent Bulger grew up in South Boston and quickly rose up the ranks of the Irish mob, while another neighborhood kid who grew up down the street from the mobster, John Connolly, became an FBI agent and ended up recruiting Bulger as an informant.
The relationship between the two is covered in great detail in Joe Berlinger’s fascinating documentary Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger. The film covers the 2013 Boston-based trial of the mobster that resulted in a conviction and a sentence of two life terms. The story of Whitey is, in itself, engrossing, but it’s the interviews with the survivors of his victims that make this movie so compelling. It’s at times tough to watch, but ultimately a non-exploitive revelation of those left to deal with the aftermath of Bulger’s violence.
As for the Hollywood treatment of the story, Martin Scorsese reportedly used Bulger as the template for Jack Nicholson’s deranged mobster Frank Costello in The Departed.
Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger/107 Mins./Magnolia /2014