THE GENNA BROTHERS
Airdates: November 2nd, 1961 and April 19th, 1962
Written by Harry Kronman
Directed by Paul Wendkos
Produced by x
Director of Photography Charles Straumer
Co-starring Marc Lawrence, Anthony Carbone, Frank Buglia, Alrene Sax Featuring Grant Richards, Steve Gravers, Eugene Iglesias, Peter Coe, A.G. Vitanza, Willian Tannen
“In the years following World War I, a flood-time of European immigration rowed through Ellis Island in New York harbor. Early in the 1920s, the ferry that made the run to Manhattan carried six men across the bay. Six brothers. Duly processed and certified for entry into the United States. Family name, Genna. Place of origin: Scilly. Destination: Chicago. Where streets were said to be paved with gold. The brothers picked up their share fast. In a few short years, they were the ruling lords of Chicago’s Little Italy. Their name, a byword of violence and death.”
The six Genna brothers, assuming control of Chicago’s Little Italy, are up to no good, bringing in illegal aliens to make their whisky for the Capone mob. After an alien is killed, an emissary of Capone orders the Gennas to discontinue the practice of greenhorn smuggling. Eliot Ness finds a reluctant ally in an Italian shopkeeper whose daughter is accidentally gunned down when one of the Gennas, a rival for her affection, attempts to kill off her new husband.
“With four of the Gennas dead, the brothers were no longer a factor in the underworld. But the name Genna had left a scar in Chicago’s Little Italy. And it would be a long time healing.”
Yes, Virginia, there really was a mob made up entirely of Gennas. Those nasty Italians (Sicilians, actually) are back with serpentine Marc Lawrence to head them up in this variation of the Augie Ciamino story. Enjoy them – this is the last of the thoroughbreds except for a couple of miscellaneous leftovers.
After all the flak from the previous year, it was assumed that the Italians were gone for good, but the agreement was for the elimination of fictional Italian gangsters. This episode generated another round of unpleasant and not-so-thinly-veiled threats aimed at the network and the Culver City crowd. Ultimately, it lead to the outright ban imposed on the use of any ethnic types for the 1962-1963 season, although a handful of evil Irishmen and several Italians will manage to sneak in anyway.
In the very same agreement, Desi Arnaz had made a point to say that Enrico Rossi would have a more prominent role in the show and this episode seems designed to show good and bad Italians, rich and poor, fed and hoodlum alike. Nevertheless, the promise to raise Rossi’s profile in the squad went about as far as the others. While actor Nick Georgiade gets a few extra lines and otherwise chews some scenery as Rossi, he’s left completely out of the climax of the episode as Ness and Hobson take on the remaining Gennas on their own, negating any attempt at what we’d describe today as a “narrative arc.” There is no satisfying resolution to Rossi’s indignancy toward the Gennas and it is otherwise Eliot Ness who gets to offer the beset immigrants a helping hand. A missed opportunity.
NESS: Do me a favor, Genna. Run.
The real Gennas were indeed rather unpleasant people, but their power and influence in Chicago was largely vanquished by opposing forces by 1930. They were the catalyst behind Chicago’s early gang war after murdering Dean O’Banion, leader of the North Side Gang, and nearly succeeding an assassination on Capone mentor Johnny Torrio. Like his fictional counterpart, the real Mike Genna later shot and killed by law enforcement in 1925.