I am currently working on the screenplay for the film, but it is quite patchy at the moment with several random scenes that haven't been linked together yet. So I am going to write a basic synopsis of the story that is currently subject to change until the screenplay has been ironed out a bit. This film may sound long, but most of the story is told through a narration, with the key plot points being shown (not everything written will physically appear on screen.) The story is primarily set in 1920s Chicago, during the prohibition era and the rise of the bootlegger, and is framed with a 1970s setting, with the majority of the story told through flashbacks. The title of the film is 'Chicago Overcoats' which is 1920's slang for coffins, and as most of the cast end up dead, i thought this would be appropriate. Other titles i briefly considered were 'Chicago Lightning' which is 1920's slang for gunfire, (but this sounded too much like a flamboyant musical, with sparkly costumes and the like), and 'XVIII', representing the eighteenth amendment to the United States constitution, which banned alcohol in America for 13 years, (but this sounded way too pretentious, as I doubt a lot of people would get the reference.)
The story will begin with the narrator as an old man being admitted to hospital after a drunken brawl in 1976. He is moved to a bed for observation. Through a voice-over narration (implied to be his internal monologue) he will explain that he is an alcoholic waster who once had it all, got greedy and pissed it all away. He will reflect on his childhood, an unhappy one on the streets of early 1900s Chicago with a drunken, abusive Irish immigrant father and a downtrodden prostitute mother. In a drunken rage, the father kills the mother, beats the young narrator and kills himself. The child is left alone.
Back in the 'present day'(1976) the narrator will then be given the news that his X-rays have revealed multiple tumors and he will not be leaving the hospital for what little time he has left. He will cryptically reveal that he feels this is retribution for his past and then resume his internal musings and flashback to his early twenties in 1920s Chicago.
Now an adult, he is working for an Italian-American crime entrepreneur called Giovanni, who has taken him under his wing. He stares at a poster for Prohibition on an alley wall, smiling to himself. He explains that the Volstead Act has opened up limitless opportunities for the downtrodden willing to break the law. He then introduces Giovanni as his mentor and the owner of the speakeasy he is supplying with booze, along with his associates, who are then introduced in a tracking shot of the bar, sat next to each other. Paddy, an Irish immigrant, is shown drunkenly swaying, and Midnight Dave, a suave con-man, who is shown carefully examining a tommy gun. The barman, a stoical French immigrant named Henri will also be introduced, looking weary and disgruntled as he wipes down the bar.
This will be followed up with a shot of the narrator and his two friends wearing face bandanas and wielding guns as they stand over a body next to several barrels of booze. He will then explain how they don't get caught, by introducing Frank, a homeless civil war veteran who is the eyes and ears of the streets, and sells the narrator information on upcoming police raids and other bootleggers activities.
This will lead to the introduction of Agent Friel, a prohibition agent who has been tracking the gangs activities, the intro will be a short one, showing him in his office carefully observing a board of mug-shots of the various characters, some of whom have yet to be introduced. This scene is not narrated, as the narrator wouldn't have been aware of these events at this time.