Will Johnny Sack Get Sacked?

Mob Experts on The Sopranos, Week 3

Will Johnny Sack Get Sacked?

Mob Experts on The Sopranos, Week 3

Will Johnny Sack Get Sacked?
Talking television.
March 22 2004 11:39 AM

Mob Experts on The Sopranos, Week 3

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Jerry,

To tell you the truth, Johnny Sack is probably my favorite character. Maybe it's just his name, or that Vincent Curatola, who plays Johnny, is so convincingly malevolent. His accumulated resentments are quite obviously blinding him, and I would lay odds—you should pardon the expression—that Tony Soprano will be forced to deal with him in some entertainingly punitive way. It struck me, while contemplating Johnny Sack's personality problems (it's much healthier to think about the shocking pathologies of fictional characters than of the shocking pathologies of the real people who populate the front pages today, isn't it?), that he is a model of the modern mobster, in that he lets his greed get the best of him. Perhaps I am looking back on the early Mob with more affection than it deserves, but it seems as if Carlo Gambino and the like knew when to take and when not to take.

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The Luchese analogy is apt, I think, though Johnny Sack's vanity reminds me of John Gotti; Johnny Sack is the sort of mobster who would have someone killed, as Gotti did, for a superficial show of disrespect. You remember, of course, the case of Louie DiBono, the hapless drywall contractor and mid-level Gambino man? Gotti had him killed because DiBono missed a required audience with the Boss. About DiBono, Gotti said: "He didn't rob nothing. Know why he's dying? He's gonna die because he refused to come in when I called." Gotti's ego required constant feeding, constant displays of respect. The most successful bosses are obviously the most self-effacing.

By the way, doesn't it seem a little odd to you that Johnny Sack's New York family is seeking out Tony Soprano's New Jersey family for advice and guidance? I always pictured the DeCalvalcante family of New Jersey as completely subservient to New York. The ring-of-truth meter is faltering on this one.

Back to you,
Jeff

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror.