THE BLACK HAND: Leonardo DiCaprio To Battle Italian Immigrant Extortionists

Feb 01, 2017 881

BY: Phil Nobile Jr.

Variety is reporting that Leonardo DiCaprio will produce and star in Paramount's adaptation of Stephan Talty’s The Black Hand, a true story detailing the efforts of Lt. Joseph Petrosino - nicknamed “the Italian Sherlock Holmes” - to stop a secret society of Italian criminals that flourished in turn-of-the-century America.

Though the phrase “Italian Sherlock Holmes” is unintentionally and deeply hilarious, the saga of the Black Hand is a fascinating, underexplored section of American history. More of a loose affiliation of extortion racketeers than the tight mob-run ships that would replace them, “The Black Hand” was a kind of boogeyman to the Italian community, with roots going back to Naples in the 1700s. In the 1900s it was enthusiastically resurrected within the Italian-American communities of cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and the like, as well as more rural areas where Italian immigrants were setting up coal mining communities.

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