“Crime and Punishment”


Weegee, [Police examining body of a “hold-up man,” New York], November 23, 1941 (negative 2185)

POLICEMEN KILL
BANDIT IN BATTLE

Thousands Awed as Gunman
Fires Wildly at Pursuers in
Crowded Delancey Street

CUSTOMER OF DINER SHOT

Critically Wounded When He
Blocks Doorway as Thug
Flees After Hold-Up
(The New York Times, November 24, 1941)


Weegee, [Police examining body of a “hold-up man,” New York], November 23, 1941 (2057.1993)

Robber Slain,
Diner Wounded

(Rochester Times-Union, November 24, 1941)

Hundreds Scatter
As Cop Slays Thug

(Brooklyn Eagle, November 24, 1941)

JUST OUT OF PRISON
THUG IS SHOT DEAD
IN A STREET BATTLE

(The Daily News, Batavia, N.Y., November 24, 1941)


PM, November 24, 1941, p.13


Cop Kills Holdup Man:
A few minutes after he had held up an Essex Street lunchroom on the Lower East Side and shot a patron, Vincent Mannuzza, 31, was lying dead at the feet of the cop who shot him. Patrolman Laurence Cramer [Kraemer], right, shot and killed Mannuzza after a two-block chase and is shown handing the gunman’s revolver to Sgt. Eugene Morland. The $20 loot taken from the restaurant lies in Mannuzza’s hat at his side. An ambulance surgeon crouches over the dead man who was shot in the head and back. Mannuzza shot a customer, Adam Zayko, 50, when he refused to go into the back room with two other customers and the manager of the lunchroom. PM Photo by Weegee


Weegee, Naked City (1945), pp. 82-83

Crime and Punishment
This happened at eight o’clock on a Sunday night…. People were rushing to the movies… there was a good double feature at Loew’s Delancey Street… one being a gangster picture… a few blocks away… in the Essex Diner… a bus boy was pasting a sign in the window, “Chef’s Special.” A man walked in… he wasn’t looking for any specials, he had a gun. And this was a stickup. He grabbed the money from the cash register and ran out. A cop saw him and gave chase. The holdup man hid behind a parked car and started firing at the cop. The policeman fired back and killed the bandit. Here’s the cop just after the shooting… very nervous, for he might have hit some innocent passers by, giving the gun to the sergeant. The cop got a medal… the gunman got the bullets. Naked City (1945), pp. 82-83.

In the end, Vincent Manuzza, 31, a resident of Brooklyn, was shot by two New York City police officers in a series of events that turned the crowded streets of the Lower East Side into a war zone. Many contemporaneous newspaper reports revealed that Manuzza was sentenced for assault, second degree, in July 1934, and spent time in Sing Sing. As is common, some of the details printed in newspapers at the time are inconsistent. This version, vividly resembling a film noir, derived largely from The New York Times, and seasoned with information from several other newspapers, is reasonably accurate:

A quarter past 10 PM on a cold Sunday night, November 23, four days before Thanksgiving, Delancey Street was crowded. The Essex Diner, 60 Essex St. (OR chrd 4-9343), was not. Manuzza entered the diner, the counterman hid under the counter when he saw a gun, Manuzza took $20 from the cash register, went towards a side exit, a 50 year old patron apparently did not understand what was happening, was off to the side, and in the exit. Manuzza approached him and shot him in the abdomen. The wounded Lower East Side resident was taken to Gouverneur Hospital (621 Water St.).

A police officer heard the shot and chased Manuzza northerly to Broome St. Hidden behind a parked truck, with hundreds of people nearby, Manuzza and two police officers exchanged gunfire. At Norfolk and Delancey Streets, Manuzza was shot as he ran towards an underground trolley station (the Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal). In Weegee’s photo the “ambulance surgeon” from Gouverneur Hospital is bending over and touching Manuzza, who is lying face down because he “was shot in the head and back.”

This real life film noir tragedy took place in the same location as the beginning of the final scene in the film “The Naked City” (1948). (ICP’s new center, 79 Essex St., is within earshot.) On Sunday and Monday, November 23d and 24th, Loew’s Delancey Street (1912-1976, one screen with over 1,700 seats, 140-146 Delancey St.) was screening a good double feature: “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1941) starring Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, and Spencer Tracy, and “Tanks A Million” (1941, comedy). The Loew’s Jersey City had a great double feature. It was screening “Ladies in Retirement,” a 1941 film noir starring Ida Lupino. And the 1941 comedy “Married Bachelor.” The Loew’s Jersey City is still extant and a stones throw from the Weegee archive, in Jersey City.

Two weeks later the United States entered World War Two.


Weegee, [Police examining body of a “hold-up man,” New York], November 23, 1941 (14052.1993)

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