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Leonardo DiCaprio to star in The Black Hand, about precursor to the American Mafia

Paramount Pictures has acquired Stephan Talty's book on Joe Petrosino, the NYPD cop who took on one of America's most ruthless gangs

Clarisse Loughrey
Wednesday 01 February 2017 10:08 GMT

Hollywood loves a good gangster movie, and it looks as if Leonardo DiCaprio is on track to deliver another hit.

Deadline reports Paramount Pictures has acquired Stephan Talty's book The Black Hand, with an eye for DiCaprio to star; detailing the incredible story of Joe Petrosino, the NYPD cop who took on one of America's most ruthless gangs - a precursor to the Mafia who came out of Italy and into America in the 1880s, who practised a brutal method of extortion entitled the Black Hand.

Tactics involved sending letters to victims threatening bodily harm, kidnapping, arson, and murder if a specified amount of money was not delivered to a specific place; in writing which was decorated with symbols like a smoking gun, a hangman's noose, a skull, or a knife dripping with blood.

The gang had no hesitation in threatening and kidnapping individuals from wealthy families, such as the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso, who performed at the Metropolitan Opera House and was convinced by Petrosino to help him root out the gangsters who demanded money from him in exchange for his life.

However, Petrosino's absolute dedication to taking down the Black Hand gangs, being an Italian immigrant himself concerned with the preservation of his heritage in America, saw him eventually assassinated at their hands.

Talty is a New York Times best-selling author, know for penning A Captain's Duty, which eventually came to provide the basis for the Oscar-nominated Captain Phillips. The studio is now in the process of finding a writer to adapt the book.

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