Raise a Glass to Five Great Films about Bootlegging

By Danica Barnett
Posted in The Field Guide to Drinking in America, on February 24, 2016

The 88th Academy Awards is a big night for movie lovers, with box office hits like The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road competing for the coveted Best Picture award, along with a handful of other awards.

To celebrate the world of cinema, we’ve compiled a list of movies inspired by bootlegging. While only a few of them earned Oscars in their day, they have since risen to notoriety in the world of cinema.

 1. Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

While this 1977 film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Film Editing, it didn’t manage to take home the award at the 1978 Academy Awards. Starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, this movie follows the Bandit and Cledus as they pick up a runaway bride named Carrie en route to delivering Coors beers to Atlanta. At a time when Coors was only available to the western half of the United States, our Southern bootleggers led Sheriff Buford T. Justice on an epic car chase across dry states to deliver the beers in Atlanta.

You can read more about Georgia’s drinking laws in The Field Guide to Drinking in America.

 

 2. Scarface (1932)

Despite never being nominated for an Academy Award, this 1932 film directed by Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson inspired the famous Al Pacino remake. After leaving Cuba,  Antonio Camonte (Paul Muni) rises to the top of the bootlegging business in Chicago. However, his hunger for controlling the city leads to his downfall.

 

3. Some Like It Hot (1959)

This 1959 classic received five Oscar nominations, winning an Oscar for Best Costume Design, Black-and-White. After witnessing the bloody St. Valentine’s Day massacre, Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) attempt to escape Chicago disguised as female musicians with an all-girl band. Meanwhile Joe tries to seduce the talented and beautiful Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe) while still keeping his true identity hidden.

 

4. The Untouchables (1987)

Based on the story of eleven law enforcement officers determined to take down Al Capone, this 1987 box office hit won Sean Connery his only Oscar award ever for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and received three other nominations. This fictionalized account of Elliot Ness’ (Kevin Costner) take-down of crime boss Capone (Robert de Niro) is based on the autobiographical novel of the same name. The director of this movie, Brian De Palma, also directed the 1983 Scarface remake.

 

5. The Public Enemy (1931)

While this 1931 hit didn’t win its cast an Academy Award, it was nominated for Best Writing, Original Story. As one of the original gangster films, The Public Enemy follows detective Tom Powers (James Cagney) as he takes on the world of bootlegging and crime.

Enjoy a Bootleg cocktail while you watch these award-worthy films or try some of these Oscar-worthy cocktails in preparation for the 88th Academy Awards, airing this Sunday, February 28th at 7:00pm Eastern | 4:00pm Pacific on ABC.