The Outfit: Are Francis and Richie Boyle Based on Real Gangsters?

The Outfit,’ starring Mark Rylance in the lead role, follows a series of events that lead to a bloodbath in a tailor shop. Leonard Burling turns a blind eye toward the criminal activities taking place around him, but that doesn’t mean he is not acutely aware of everything. He is smarter, wiser, and more resourceful than it appears at first glance, and that’s what makes him a character to look out for. The primary danger to him comes from the Boyle gang, a part of the Irish mob, who are looking to expand their operations in Chicago and using Leonard’s shop as a drop off point. Considering that the film takes place in the 50s and refers to real-life gangs, it is natural to wonder whether the gangsters in the film are based on real people. SPOILERS AHEAD

The Boyle Gang in The Outfit is Entirely Fictional

‘The Outfit’ is an original story co-written and directed by Graham Moore, who was inspired by his own grandfather to create the character of Leonard Burling. While the inspiration was real, the characters that came out of it weren’t. The entire story, including the characters and the gangs they belong to in the movie, is made up. There are references to real-life gangs and figures, like Al Capone and the Chicago Outfit. The film’s plot also relies on a real-life operation carried out by the FBI where they planted a bug to spy on the mob by planting it in a tailor shop. However, all of this feeds into the plot and builds the drama of the story without any real-life characters making an appearance in the movie.

The film uses the fictional Boyle gang of the Irish mob to move things along. Roy Boyle sits at the top, with his son, Richie, set to take over things once his father lets go of the reins. What makes things tense between them is Francis. He does not belong to the Boyle family but has worked his way up to become Roy Boyle’s right-hand man. The fact that he took several bullets for his boss gains him a lot of points, and considering that he is much better at the job makes Richie jealous of him. He thinks his father favors Francis over him, and this stirs trouble.

It is hinted that the Boyle gang is growing stronger in the neighborhood, and someone needs to take him down, but it has to be someone innocuous. For Graham Moore, the idea for the downfall of the Boyle crime family started with his own grandfather, who was a doctor and often had Jerry Catena of the Genovese crime family come to him for treatment. While Moore’s father knew Catena was a criminal, he didn’t stop treating him, which built an unlikely trust between the two.

Further, when Moore found out that the FBI had used a tailor shop to get to a criminal gang, he realized how much the gangsters were prone to underestimate the position of people like doctors and tailors. It didn’t matter if it was someone like Richie, who was too slow to shoot someone or to understand what was going on around him, or someone like Francis, who was quick as a whip and a better contender to lead the gang, both of them would be blindsided by someone like Leonard Burling because they’d never take him seriously.

To make the film, Moore and the rest of the team delved into the era of the 50s and what things looked like for criminals at that time. They structured everything based on that, right from the way the characters were dressed to even how they would behave in certain situations. Considering this, it is clear that Moore and his team put in a lot of work to make people like Francis and Richie come across as realistic as possible, even though they are purely fictional.

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