Sylvester Stallone is putting down his guns and picking up his other guns for a more serious role in the Brad Furman-directed gangster film ‘Scarpa.’ Written by ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘Casino’ scribe Nicholas Pileggi, ‘Scarpa’ will tell the story of Gregory Scarpa, who was the hitman of choice for the Colombo crime family and specifically Boss Carmine “Junior” Persico, who is currently serving his 139-year prison sentence in Marion Federal Penitentiary in Illinois, where he is expected to die, despite his nickname, “The Immortal.” Scarpa’s involvement with the Colombo family dated back to the 1950s, and his career in both crime and as an FBI informant was a truly wild one.
The casting is an interesting choice, despite Stallone’s physique and reputation for playing the hulking, killing badass type, because the majority of Scarpa’s “fun” was had during his younger days. His older days, with all due respect to Frank Stallone’s brother and his acting abilities, were filled with informant work and his eventual health issues that were as intriguing as his chosen profession.
Stallone would play one of the best-known sociopaths in organized crime — a man who murdered for the family, suspected in the murders of his own biological family, then turned FBI informant (like many of the wise guys end up doing). He was eventually indicted for multiple murders. He called himself the Killing Machine and boasted of 50 murders — as if that was something to be proud of. His own daughter said living with him was like living with a serial killer. He later became a prisoner in his own body and died in 1994 from AIDS-related complications in a Minnesota prison. Karma. (Via Deadline)
Hey now, we need to hear both sides of the story before we call his death karma. But seriously, Scarpa’s story is so much more insane than that. His relationship with the FBI went back to the 60s, when he agreed to provide the Bureau with information and other services after he was busted for armed robbery. Even while he was working for the FBI, he kept flexing his muscle for the Colombo family while expanding his own enterprises in illegal gambling and eventually credit card fraud. But in 1986, Scarpa was infected with HIV after he reportedly refused to take a blood transfusion from the hospital blood bank, because he wouldn’t accept the possibility of a black person’s blood making its way into his body. Instead, he took blood from a bodybuilder friend who had contracted HIV from a dirty needle.
It’s hard to believe that Furman will be able to bring Pileggi’s writing to life in the same way that Martin Scorcese previously has – ‘Runner Runner’ was a dud, but ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ was great, so who knows what we’ll get from the guy whose IMDB profile has him in a Good Charlotte t-shirt. But the material is definitely there, since Scarpa’s final days were filled with fighting off several assassination attempts, including a classic road standoff with his boss’s rival’s hitmen that were trying to murder him and his family, and another failed attempt that took one of his eyes. Nothing says more about the decline of the mafia in America than the fact that they couldn’t even kill a 64-year old man who was dying of AIDS.