In the fall of 1931, Al Capone has just been convicted of income tax evasion and the bootlegging part of his operation was divided into two parts. Mayer Wartel acquired the speakeasies and Karl Positan acquired the breweries and distilleries. In a squeeze play, Positan attempts to takeover the entire operation by witholding beer and whiskey to Wartel's speaks. Candy stores begin taking in more revenue.
Capone's collector, Frank Nitti, is plenty sore. Wartel makes excuses but Nitti doesn't want to hear them. He says that Wartel had better settle things with Positan or he will start having health problems. Wartel doesn't need to be told twice. He sends his lieutenant, Happy Levinsky, and ten torpedoes armed with Tommy guns over to Positan's hotel. They shoot up the lobby. Positan gets the message and leaves town. Wartel takes over the breweries and distilleries in addition to the speakeasies.
The Chicago Leader begins publishing articles attacking Wartel. Now it's Wartel's turn to be plenty sore. He decides to retaliate. One night, Wartel and a squad of hoodlums smash up the newspaper's press room and Wartel shoots editor Michael Shaw with a special lightweight .45 automatic gun that was specially made for him by gunsmith Herman Kihn. The ballistics report on the gun is brought to the attention of Eliot Ness who begins asking questions of all the master gunmakers in town including Kihn.
Levinsky sees Ness asking questions in Kihn's shop and reports back to Wartel. Wartel, who's a born worrier, then sends for one Harry Strauss, aka Pittsburgh Phil, the Lord High Executioner of the underworld who's personally responsible for 89 hits. Wartel agrees to Phil's price of $25K for the job. Phil then visits Kihn who's been working on perfecting a silencer which he says he will give to an artist like Phil.
Ness then warns Kihn that he's been marked for death by Wartel. He'd better tell what he knows about the weapon used to murder the newpaper editor. Kihn declines to cooperate. He says he's a dead man if he turns informer. Ness decides to have Kihn tailed just in case. This turns out to be good for Kihn because Phil plans to kill him in a movie theatre by sticking a knife in his back. But when Phil notices Ness sitting in the audience too he aborts his mission.
Phil, ever the egomaniac, then decides he will kill Kihn right under the nose of Eliot Ness. This hit will be his Masterpiece. He won't even charge Wartel for the hit. On New Year's Eve, Phil invites Kihn to go out celebrating with him. They go to a club. Sitting a few tables away are Ness and Hobson. Kihn is getting loaded. Now Phil decides to make his move. He pulls out a gun equipped with the new silencer Kihn had given him, points it at Kihn underneath the table, and pulls the trigger. To his shock the gun makes the noise of a howitzer. Kihn had switched silencers giving Phil one that doesn't work. Ness and Hobson then take a stunned Phil into custody.
Ness rides with the mortally wounded Kihn in the ambulance taking him to the hospital. The gunsmith brags that he got both of them: Phil for his murder and he took the gun that Wartel used to kill the edtor but because Wartel doesn't know about that he will worry about it the rest of his life. Not too bad for a dead man. "Yeah," says Ness. "You only got yourself killed."
Ness then decides to try a ruse. He has the new editor of the Leader, William Adcock, run an article that Ness has the gun used in the murder of Shaw and that a ballistics expert at Northwestern University is running tests on it to pin the killing on Wartel. Wartel breaks into the professor's lab but Ness is waiting. They shoot it out and Martel goes to join Herman Kihn. His reign was over. Ness phones in the story just in time to make the late editions. Share this article with your friends