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Real-life grandaughter of “Gangster Squad” character says film “butchers” her grandpa’s story

Will Perkins
Wide Screen
January 17, 2013

Director Ruben Fleischer’s latest film “Gangster Squad” has not fared well with critics or audiences.

Inspired by a true story, the 1940’s set cops vs. mobsters flick stars Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling as members of an undercover LAPD task force assigned to deal with East Coast gangster Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). The film has been knocked by critics for having a shallow script and paper thin characters, and reviewers have also taken “Gangster Squad” to task for being “cartoonish” and “overly violent.”

And the movie hasn’t done much better with moviegoers, debuting at number three with a lackluster $17 million first weekend at the box office - a disappointing opening for the $60 million dollar crime drama.

Critics and audiences aren’t the only ones taking issue with Fleischer’s movie. The real-life granddaughter of Josh Brolin’s character Sgt. John "Jack" O’Mara recently called the film “outlandish,” saying that it bears no resemblance to the reality of what her grandfather and the actual Gangster Squad did.

In a blog post written earlier this month, Sierra O’Mara Schwartz - the 21-year-old granddaughter of the late O’Mara – talked about her childhood memories of "Grandpa Jack" and detailed his story's long journey to the silver screen from her family's perspective.

Schwartz makes the whole experience of seeing her grandfather's life turned into a movie sound surreal (as it would be for anyone), but stresses to perspective moviegoers that Brolin's trigger-happy character is not a true reflection of the real O'Mara.

“My grandfather shot one bullet in his whole career in the LAPD,” Schwartz said, adding that according to her mother it was only a warning shot.

In the film, O'Mara is seen beating criminals to a pulp, shooting them in the legs to wound them, and killing others with an iconic Tommy gun. Quite rightly the university sophomore doesn't want audiences to judge her grandpa based on a Hollywood portrayal of him.

“It is weird knowing millions of people will watch a movie and all of a sudden think your grandfather was a ruthless gun lover when that couldn’t be farther [sic] from the truth.”

Schwartz goes on to call Paul Lieberman’s book "Gangster Squad" (on which the film was loosely based) a much more faithful depiction of her grandfather’s illustrious crime fighting career, but encourages people to be excited for the film.

Written prior to "Gangster Squad"'s Los Angeles premiere - to which O'Mara's family were invited - Schwartz said she was nervous in the days leading up to the movie's premiere and that she'd been having "recurring daydreams of shaking hands with Ryan Gosling." According to her Instagram feed, Schwartz was able to make good on that daydream.


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