Downfall - Recap
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In December of 1929, Pete "the Persuader" Kalmiski, a former bodyguard of Al Capone and now an underworld power in his own right, and Alan Sitkin, business manager for the syndicate, enter a high-rise office building in downtown Chicago. They've arrived for a meeting with Joseph December, Jr., president of the debt-ridden Great Lakes Pacific Railroad. Kalmisky and Joey December enter into a crooked deal. Joey agrees to transport Kalmiski's booze in his railroad cars in exhcange for 20% off the top.
After "the Persuader" departs, Joey and Sitkin talk privately. Sitkin gives Joey $100K for 10,000 shares of Canada Central stock now worth $10 a share. Joey says the stock will be worth $50 a share in three weeks. Sitkin then informs Joey that he can keep Kalmiski in line because he has incriminating evidence against him stored in a safety deposit box. He carries the key to this safety deposit box everywhere he goes. Both men smile at their good fortune and soon the booze express from Manitoba gets rolling distributing good Canadian whiskey to a five state area.
In February of 1930, an elderly railroad man stumbles across a smashed case of whiskey that fell by the tracks. He then phones the Prohibition Bureau to report it but gets gunned down. Eliot Ness and the Untouchables are on the case. They travel to the site of the shooting located at a railroad spur on the outskirts of Chicago. Ness identifies the labels on the bottles of booze as Kalmiski's brand but when Rico contacts the Great Lakes Pacific district manager he's informed that nobody has used that particular spur line in the past twelve years.
The info about the spur line results in a meeting between Joey December and Ness and Hobson. December assures Ness that he will thoroughly investigate the possibility that his railroad is being used by bootleggers but after the two Untouchables depart, he places a call to U.S. Attorney Beecher Asbury. Joey tells Asbury that Ness has been harassing him and treating him like a hoodlum. This call results in Ness being called onto the carpet by Asbury where he has to explain himself.
A few days later, Alan Sitkin has a private meeting with Joey in a bookstore. The Canada Central stock which Sitkin purchased has gone belly-up like a beached whale. Not to mention the fact that Sitkin used embezzeld Mob money to purchase the stock in the first place. He asks Joey for money to replace the embezzled funds. Joey agrees to lend it in exchange for the key to the safety deposit box. Sitkin, knowing that he's dead either way, then leaves the bookstore and throws himself in front of an on-rushing subway train. Naturally, he assumes room temperature. Joey, who has followed Sitkin into the subway, poses as a doctor and deftly removes the safety deposit box key from the pockets of the dead man.
Joey opens the safety deposit box and finds a letter addressed to Al Capone in Palm Island, Florida detailing a plot by Kalmiski to bump off Capone's predecessor and mentor, Johnny Torrio. So another meeting with Kalmiski is arranged. Instead of Sitkin blackmailing him, it's now Joey. Kalmiski is forced to bump up Joey's share of the partnership to 51% in exchange for Joey not sending the letter to Al Capone. Not wanting to join Sitkin in the flames of hell, Kalmiski agrees to the terms.
Henry Grunther, the Comptroller at Great Lakes Pacific, knows all about Joey's dealings with the Mob and wants to save him from himself. He sees Joey put the letter in the office safe for which they both have the combination and then calls Ness. Joey discovers Grunther's presumed treachery but not before the comptroller has removed the letter from the safe. But before Grunther can get to Ness he too buys the farm when he steps into a defective elevator and takes a 20 story dive. Agent Hobson inspects Grunter's body and discovers the letter. Seeking to sew a few seeds of discontent, Ness then goes to Kalmiski's club and tells him that Joey mailed the letter to Capone.
Needless to say, Kalmiski ain't happy. He goes to Joey's office and proceeds to give him a good beating. This persuasion works only the letter is not in the safe where Joey thinks it is. However, a pistol is lying in the safe. Joey removes it and shoots Kalmiski down. He then tries to flee but the Untouchables have followed Kalmiski and quickly close off all means of escape. Cornered, Joey turns the gun on himself but is dissuaded by Ness. "You've been dead for years," are his words. The Untouchables then lead Joey away and he died in the electric chair on May 30, 1930. But his moral death had occurred some years before.