Was Gangster Squad A True Story

Title: Was Gangster Squad A True Story? Unveiling 7 Fascinating Facts


The 2013 crime film “Gangster Squad” captivated audiences with its thrilling depiction of the battle between the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the notorious Mickey Cohen-led mob in the 1940s. But how much of the movie was based on real events? In this article, we delve into the truth behind the film and present seven intriguing facts that shed light on the historical accuracy of “Gangster Squad.”

Fact 1: The Gangster Squad

The Gangster Squad was indeed a real unit within the LAPD during the 1940s. Formed to combat organized crime in Los Angeles, the squad was composed of a group of dedicated officers who fought against the criminal empire of Mickey Cohen and his associates.

Fact 2: Mickey Cohen

Mickey Cohen, played by Sean Penn in the film, was a notorious mobster who gained control over the Los Angeles underworld during the 1940s and 1950s. He was involved in a wide range of criminal activities, including racketeering, gambling, and drug trafficking. While the movie portrays Cohen as the primary antagonist, it takes some creative liberties with his portrayal.

Fact 3: The Battle for Los Angeles

Although the film’s storyline is primarily fictionalized, it is inspired by the real-life efforts of the LAPD to bring down Mickey Cohen’s criminal empire. The Battle for Los Angeles was an intense struggle between the police force and the powerful mob, involving numerous shootouts, raids, and covert operations.

Fact 4: The Wiretapping Operation

One of the most significant aspects of the Gangster Squad’s fight against Mickey Cohen was their use of wiretapping. By intercepting and recording conversations between Cohen and his associates, the squad was able to gather crucial evidence that eventually led to his downfall.

Fact 5: The Iconic Shootout at the Park Plaza Hotel

The film features a thrilling shootout at the Park Plaza Hotel, where the Gangster Squad confronts Mickey Cohen and his henchmen. While the actual shootout did not occur at the Park Plaza Hotel, there were numerous real-life gun battles between the LAPD and Cohen’s gang. These violent encounters played a crucial role in destabilizing Cohen’s criminal empire.

Fact 6: The Ambush of Mickey Cohen

In the movie, the Gangster Squad successfully plans and executes an ambush on Mickey Cohen. However, in reality, Cohen was never ambushed or apprehended in such a manner. Although the LAPD did succeed in bringing him to justice, it was through a series of arrests, investigation, and legal proceedings rather than a single dramatic event.

Fact 7: Historical Liberties

While “Gangster Squad” draws inspiration from true events, it takes several creative liberties for dramatic effect. The film amalgamates characters, compresses timelines, and exaggerates certain aspects of the story to heighten its entertainment value. Nonetheless, it remains an enjoyable portrayal of the LAPD’s fight against organized crime.

Common Questions:

1. Was Mickey Cohen as ruthless in real life as portrayed in the film?
Yes, Mickey Cohen was known for his brutal tactics and ruthless demeanor, though the film may have exaggerated certain aspects.

2. Did the real Gangster Squad operate as covertly as shown in the movie?
Yes, the Gangster Squad often worked undercover to gather evidence against Mickey Cohen and his associates.

3. Were there any real-life shootouts between the LAPD and Mickey Cohen’s gang?
Yes, there were several violent encounters between the LAPD and Cohen’s gang, though the specific events depicted in the film are fictional.

4. Did the LAPD really wiretap Cohen’s conversations?
Yes, wiretapping played a significant role in gathering evidence against Cohen, contributing to his eventual downfall.

5. Did the shootout at the Park Plaza Hotel actually happen?
No, while shootouts did occur in real life, the specific incident at the Park Plaza Hotel depicted in the film is fictional.

6. Did the Gangster Squad successfully bring down Mickey Cohen?
Yes, through a combination of arrests, investigations, and legal proceedings, the LAPD ultimately dismantled Cohen’s criminal empire.

7. Were there any other notorious gangsters operating in Los Angeles during that time?
Yes, apart from Mickey Cohen, other notable gangsters like Bugsy Siegel and Jack Dragna were also active in Los Angeles during the same period.

8. Were there any real-life members of the Gangster Squad who inspired the characters in the film?
Yes, the Gangster Squad was led by Sergeant Jack O’Mara, played by Josh Brolin in the movie. However, the other members of the squad were fictionalized.

9. How accurate is the film’s portrayal of Los Angeles in the 1940s?
While the film captures the essence of the era, it takes some artistic liberties in recreating the city’s atmosphere and aesthetics.

10. Were there any significant consequences for the LAPD after their battle with Cohen?
The LAPD faced scrutiny and criticism for their methods during the battle, but ultimately, their efforts helped clean up the city’s criminal underworld.

11. Did Mickey Cohen have any connections with other notorious criminals of that era?
Yes, Cohen had connections with various high-profile gangsters, including Frank Costello and Meyer Lansky.

12. How long did it take to bring down Mickey Cohen?
The LAPD’s battle against Cohen spanned several years, with multiple arrests and investigations leading to his eventual imprisonment in 1951.

13. Were there any other films based on the same real-life events?
Yes, prior to “Gangster Squad,” the 1984 film “The Cotton Club” also depicted the battle between law enforcement and organized crime in Los Angeles during the 1940s.

14. Did Mickey Cohen have any direct involvement in political corruption?
While there were allegations of Cohen’s connections to corrupt officials, his direct involvement remains speculative.

15. How accurate is the film overall compared to the real events?
While the film takes creative liberties, it still captures the essence of the LAPD’s battle against Mickey Cohen, making it an entertaining portrayal of the era’s criminal underworld.


While “Gangster Squad” may not be a fully accurate representation of the true events it draws inspiration from, it effectively immerses viewers into the thrilling world of 1940s Los Angeles and the LAPD’s fight against organized crime. By exploring the seven fascinating facts presented above, audiences can gain a deeper understanding of the historical context behind the film and its real-life counterparts.

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