Purple Gang documentary sold out
The July 27 article in the Review asked, “Why are area people so fascinated with the Purple Gang?” The question got an answer Wednesday evening approximately 1,300 people came to Clare to see Central Michigan University Film Professor Ben Tigner’s film documenting the Purple Gang and their activities in and around Clare during the prohibition era from 1920 through 1933.
Three showings of the documentary film “Purple: Organized Crime In A Small Town” were held at the Ideal Theatre in Clare Wednesday evening, with people lined up to get in an hour before the first showing at 7 p.m. and lined up outside the theatre for each of the other three showings of the film. The last show aired at 11 p.m.
Ideal Theatre owner Tom Koch said Thursday, “It was really nice and very well done. They even had a red carpet!” Koch added, “I was just flabbergasted. I didn’t expect this kind of a response.” He said most of the attendees signed up for a copy of the DVD, although one is not yet available. He said there are no plans yet for another showing, although they are already talking about it.
Tigner, a Coleman native, has spent the last three years researching that subject, collecting 1,708 pictures and spending 15 hours interviewing area people about the era. Some of his CMU students helped with scheduling and filming around the area, but Tigner wrote, directed and produced the documentary.
Tigner’s research delves into the lives of Joe Burnstein, Sam Garfield, Meyer Lanski (who was internationally known), Isaiah Lebove and Jack Livingston, who were all prominent figures of the time.