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Unholy Toledo

Quarter-finalist 2018 PAGE International screenplay competition

Top 10 Historical Category on WinningScripts.com

Nine on The Blacklist

Top 10 2017 Table Read My Screenplay New Orleans Competition

Quarter-finalist 2017 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition

2016 Scriptapalooza Semi-Finalist

Martin Katz Fellow at the Blacklist Mini-Lab at 2015 Toronto International Film Festival

2014 Scriptapalooza Quarter-Finalist

Top 100 2014 Emerging Screenwriters' Competition

Genre: Period/Crime


When a couple of runaway farm boys start running slots in Prohibition-era Toledo the ruthless Purple Gang moves in hard and fast, kidnapping one of their wives, setting up a high stakes, winner take all, game of life and death.

Loudon, Ohio: Small, but wiry, young Louis House, flees the family farm. Tempered from years of abuse at the hands of his father, he's tough as nails and has developed a thirst for the bottle. While waiting to hop a train he meets the much bigger youth, Tuffy Lemarr, a happy-go-lucky sort with a taste for adventure. The world beyond awaits them and they are determined to see it. Becoming fast friends, they visit a hobo camp, narrowly escaping disaster, then hop a train and ride the rails into Toledo, Ohio.

The time is Prohibition. Toledo has become a mecca for gambling and bootlegging amidst an atmosphere of political corruption. Here we meet historical figures, such as Toledo's beloved Jackie Kennedy, a charming Irish bruiser who rose to prominence running speakeasies, the ambitious Firetop Saulkin, a political fixer with a ruthless thirst for power, and the infamous Detroit mob boss, Yonnie Licavoli and the Purple Gang, who'll stop at nothing to take over Toledo.

Louie and Tuffy quickly grow from boys to men as they carve out the American Dream. They find work in the railway yards where Louie goes up against Big Bart in a bare knuckle prize fight, staking his first business venture, a billiards hall. To this Louie adds a string of slot machines throughout the city. Tuffy opens a cigar shop, running high-stakes poker games in the back. Louie meets and falls in love with Mary, a transplanted farm girl, working to make her own way in the big city. Life is sweetuntil Yonnie Licavoli comes to town to work with Firetop Saulkin.

To the Purple Gang extortion is the name of the game and nobody's better at it than Yonnie Licavoli. When Yonnie sets his sights on Lou and turns up the heat, Lou responds to the pressure by slipping further into the bottle, which threatens to destroy Lou's marriage and all that he holds dear.

Tuffy hasn't the stomach for the violence and wants to pack it in but Lou won't budge. When he refuses to pay financial tribute, Licavoli tightens the screws, kidnapping Lou's wife Mary for ransom. With it all on the line, Lou must face his demons and halt his alcoholic spiral if he has any chance of getting Mary back alive.

The ties that bind Lou and Tuffy are long and strong--Tuffy puts aside his fears, rising to the challenge alongside Lou. With the clock ticking and no time to spare they turn to their old friend and ally, Jackie Kennedy. Meanwhile, Mary has to fend off Licavoli's henchman, the lecherous Joe Wop

The story climaxes in a car chase shootout where Louie, Jackie and Tuffy triumph over Licavoli and his gang, settling the score once and for all.

Inspired by our grandfather's life as a slot machine runner, Unholy Toledo tells the quintessential American story of determination and ingenuity set against the backdrop of Depression Era Prohibition.