Last month Al Capone was caught sitting in the balcony of the
Bohm Theatre, at a booth in Cascarelli's and in a car on Elizabeth
Capone, was caught not by the police, but by cameras, as hoodlum
characters shot not guns, but a film, in Albion on Oct. 26 and
"Turn Left on Hastings Street" is an independent film
about Detroit's infamous Purple Gang, which was criminally acclaimed
for safe robberies, the conspiracy to murder Senator Hooper,
(who is buried in Albion's Riverside cemetery) and the distribution
of bootleg liquor during Prohibition, among other allegations.
A mid-point between Detroit and Chicago, Albion was an ideal
place for gangster dealings. According to Albion historian Frank
Passic, the Fleisher brothers - Louis, Sam and Harry - who were
highly involved in the gang, later took residence in Albion.
With Sam "Stone" Bernstein, they operated a business
called Riverside Iron and Metal Company (where Thompson's Brakes
and the Leisure Hour Club stand in the Marketplace today) as
a front for their criminal activity. The Purples frequented
the Streetcar Tavern on the "west end " of town for
homemade liquor and the Parker Inn on Michigan Avenue (now Burnham
Brook Senior Center), which lodged gangsters traveling between
Chicago and Detroit.
"Over the course of studying Albion history, I've come
across particular persons in Albion who had some ëinside
information,' or personal recollections of the Purple Gang,"
Passic said. "Some know about things they feel they don't
dare talk about - even 60 years later. An aura of mystery, intrigue
and folklore about the Purple Gang in Albion has developed over
Early in October, filmmaker Cliff Lance acknowledged this aura
when he signed the AlbionMich.com guest book, introducing his
"Turn Left on Hastings Street," crediting Passic's
articles and expressing interest in interviewing him for a documentary
DVD to accompany the feature.
However, after talking with Passic and coming to town, Lance
decided to not only feature 45 minutes to an hour's worth of
Albion in the documentary but to give it five to six minutes
of fame in the actual film as well.
"The Albion connection is quite extensive, and the Bohm
theatre, the red brick street, and the historic homes make the
locale quite fitting, " Lance said.
To assist with the filming, Public Safety blocked-off Superior
Street, Richard Porter of Albion lent the use of his vintage
1931 Dodge, Albion Community Theatre members dressed in 1930's
era clothing acted as extras, and Young's Menswear supplied
On Saturday a scene was shot at the Bohm in which a fight breaks
out in front of the theatre. According to Passic, late Albion
resident Helen Sharp, who was a ticket-taker at the Bohm, recalled
that the Purples would frequent the theatre on Sunday nights,
not to watch a movie but to conduct business. They would come
with a woman called "Flapper Susie" and a small Italian
lookout man named Joe.
In Lance's re-creation of this scene, Lynn Hoaglin, who happened
to be eating at Piccadilly's was summoned to play Sharp, the
ticket-taker, and Albion first-year Josh Eagen also had a place
in the scenes. Rafael Salcedo, an exchange student from Mexico
who is staying with the Miller family of Albion was even given
a line: "Mrs. Sharp, Mr. Bohm would like to see you."
"I was very pleased with the professionalism of all of
the actors," Lance said.
Other clips include Al Capone, played by Alex Safi, ascending
the steps of the Parker Inn, a couple making-out in the vintage
car, and Al Capone traveling in the car, driven by its owner
Richard Porter, along Elizabeth Street. After eating lunch at
Cascarelli's on Saturday, Lance also decided to shoot another
fight scene in the restaurant, which has been at its Superior
Street location since 1908.
"We are trying to make the film as accurate as possible
yet still interesting and entertaining," Lance said.
Although "Turn Left on Hastings Street" is an independent
film, Canduit Productions of Los Angeles will distribute it
nationally Dec. 20. The Bohm Theatre plans to have its own gala
premiere, which the Albion Chamber of Commerce is working on
"This could be good publicity for Albion, which is something
we need right now," said Passic. "It really opens
up possibilities for the town as a tourist site."
For more information on the Purple Gang, see