The gangster I chose to analyze was Willie Doody. I chose to analyze Willie because by looking at him, he did not strike me as an individual I would portray as a ‘gangster.’ I normally think of a gangster as an old Italian man or a tall and physically intimidating man. Looking at Willie, he looks like a young teenage male, not appearing like an individual who would be a gangster.
This picture is of Willie Doody sitting in front of a safe.
The caption states “half-length portrait of reputed gangster Willie Doody looking toward the camera, sitting in front of a safe in a room in Chicago, Illinois. Two men are partially visible sitting to either side of Doody.” The picture was taken in 1929.
By looking at this picture, we can not really gather too much information. The caption states that two men are sitting on either side of him. The two men sitting next to him are probably his bodyguards, friends, or part of the gang. We really do not know how they know him. The caption also states that he is sitting in front of a safe in a room in a Chicago. We really do not what safe he is sitting in front of. We can assume that it would be a safe from a bank because this picture was taken in 1929. 1929 was the year the Great Depression started. He might be sitting in front on the safe to ensure that he gets his money from the bank before anybody, or he could be there to deposit his money to make sure nothing happens to it. Whatever the reason may be, Willie does not seem happy. He seems like he is tired and has been sitting there for a while. His collar is unbuttoned and his shirt sleeves are rolled up, probably trying to relax and get comfortable.
This picture looks very similar to the one above.
The caption states “three-quarter length portrait of reputed gangster Willy Doody sitting with Mr. Jackson, postal inspector, and an unidentified man in front of an open safe in a room in Chicago, Illinois.” This picture was taken in 1929.
This looks like a wider image of the picture taken above. Now we see the other men in the picture. One of the men is a postal inspector, while the other is an unidentified man. I am lead to believe that the man to our left of Willie is the postal inspector, and the man to our right of Willie is a fellow gangster of his. I believe the man to our right is a gangster because he has a hat just like the one that is in Willie’s lap. We do not know why the two men are there with him. We can assume that the postal inspector is working with Willie, helping him with his needs. Perhaps the postal inspector has the keys or the code to opening the safe. The man to our right of Willie (assumed gangster) might be there to accompany him or to just protect him. If we look closely, we can see that the door to the safe is open. Maybe he has taken all of his money out of the safe or is going to put his valuables in the safe.
This picture is of Willie in court with his attorney.
The caption states “three-quarter length portrait of alleged gangster Willie Doody and attorney Scott Stewart sitting in a room in Chicago, Illinois. Stewart is holding his hand next to his mouth, and Doody is smiling. This picture was taken in 1929.
This picture was obviously taken of Willie and his attorney in court. It does not seem like that he is in court for any major reason. He is sitting there calm and happy along with his lawyer. It looks like that Willie may have just won the case, and his attorney is congratulating him. It also could be the attorney telling him that he has evidence of something that will favor him during the trial. We do not know why they are in court or what they are laughing about, but we do know that Willie and his attorney do not seem concerned.
This picture of Willie is of him walking in a jail hallway.
The caption states “informal full-length portrait of bailiff Joe Chemma and alleged gangster Willie Doody walking towards the camera in a hallway in a jail in Chicago, Illinois. A door made of iron bars is visible in the background.” The picture was taken in 1929.
This picture is of Willie Doody and a bailiff walking in a hallway of a jail in Chicago. With closer inspection of the picture, you can see that the prison door is still open, implying he just got released from the cell. Also, you can tell he just got released because the bailiff is walking him out. I believe that he only stayed overnight in prison or for just a couple of hours because he is still in a suit, well dressed for a person that has stayed in prison.
In the four pictures above, Willie was not really depicted as good person, but they do not seem to depict Willie in a ‘horrible’ manner. The pictures do tell us that he was not the best of people either. Looking at the pictures, Willie is not portrayed as a gangster, but as regular guy having a run-in with the law here and there. The pictures are of him could be pictures of anybody in those situations; in court and jail. The first image taken of Willie seems to have been posed, but the last three pictures seemed to have been taken of him ‘in the moment of time.’
Searching the web, I could not find a single entry on Willie Doody. Maybe it was because this name was just a nickname, or maybe because he was not that prominent of a figure in gangster history. But if I had found an entry on Willie Doody, I am pretty sure that the web would have portrayed him as a corrupt individual, as they portray any other gangster, like an Al Capone.
Today’s gangsters are depicted in two ways: the Italian mafia and African Americans. The reason we depict gangsters this way is because of television. Television has portrayed the gangster to be like the Italian mafia as in the television show, The Sopranos, or African American gangs we see mostly in music videos or movies. We are constantly being bombarded with images of the mafia taking out their enemy, or African American gangs fighting and shooting at rival gangs in the streets. With this constant bombardment of images, over the years we have been led to think that gangsters are of these two types. The role that gangsters play in popular imagination today is a group of individuals who the average person does not want to have a run-in with. You try not to deal with the gangsters, because you push them the wrong way, it can cost your life. We think of them as gun-toting group of men with vast amount of power over the common people in everyday life. We also tend to think of gangsters being cruel and evil people not afraid to kill. This depiction of gangsters has very much changed since the days of Al Capone and Willie Doody.