June 2013

Encounters

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Squizzy Taylor & Snowy Cutmore

As mobster murders tend to go, it lacked any vestige of glamour. A couple of violent thugs plugged each other in the back bedroom of a slum boarding house. They were both nasty pieces of work and there were more sighs of relief than tears of grief at their mutually inflicted demise.

But out of such unpromising material many a legend has sprung and the lurid light of melodrama has long flickered over the names of Squizzy Taylor and Snowy Cutmore.

The facts are pretty clear. Taylor was a runt, a thief and extortionist. Cutmore was a beefy bruiser, a hold-up man who once branded a reluctant prostitute with a hot iron. The two men were rivals in crime. Their gangs were engaged in open warfare. In short, there was bad blood between them. On 27 October 1927, Taylor and two of his henchmen went looking for Cutmore.

After an afternoon scouring the pubs of Carlton, Taylor found Cutmore at home in bed with a dose of influenza, tended to by his dear old mum. Cutmore, who had just returned to Melbourne to avoid a murder rap in Sydney, had a gun under his pillow. The confrontation was brief. Squizzy drew, bullets flew and Snowy died on the spot, nicking his mother’s shoulder with a stray shot in the process. Taylor fled, mortally wounded, and expired soon after in nearby St Vincent’s Hospital.

Taylor’s strutting prominence in the gang vendettas of the 1920s had made him a household name in Melbourne and his notoriety could not be allowed to go to waste. Two decades after his death, Frank Hardy inserted him into Power Without Glory, thinly masked as Snoopy Tanner, and falsely fingered him for the fatal shooting of a copper during a break-in at Trades Hall. By 1976, his life had become a radio opera, the title role sung by Colin Hay. In 1982, he was impersonated in a bio flick by sprightly hoofer David Atkins. The film got a thrashing but it is hard to keep a bad man down, and when the Underbelly franchise ran out of more recent criminality to dramatise, it was time to dust the cobwebs off Squizzy and Snowy and ride them around the block once again.

If nothing else, the imminent resurrection of the tale will provide a timely reminder to get your flu shots.

Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz

Shane Maloney is a writer and the author of the award-winning Murray Whelan series of crime novels. His 'Encounters', illustrated by Chris Grosz, have been published in a collection, Australian Encounters.

Chris Grosz is a book illustrator, painter and political cartoonist. He has illustrated newspapers and magazines such as the Age, the Bulletin and Time.

From the front page

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a press conference at Parliament House yesterday. Image © Mick Tsikas / AAP Images

Forklifters and leaners

Morrison’s ludicrous suggestion that children be used to fill workforce shortages is his most desperate yet

Image of Oliver Twist. Image supplied.

Oliver Twist’s ‘Jali’

With quiet charisma and gentle humour, the Rwandan-Australian performer weaves together vivid autobiographical stories in this one-person show

Image of South Australia Premier Steven Marshall addressing the media during a press conference in Adelaide, August 24, 2021. Image © Morgan Sette / AAP Images

Marshall law

Premier Steven Marshall claimed South Australia was “COVID-ready” when the state opened borders just as Omicron was emerging, but it now faces the same issues as the eastern states

Image of Lisa McCune, Zahra Newman and Peter Carroll appearing on stage in Girl from the North Country. Image © Daniel Boud.

‘Girl from the North Country’

Weaving Bob Dylan songs into a story of Depression-era hardship, Conor McPherson’s musical speaks to the broken America of today

In This Issue

© Beawiharta Beawiharta / Reuters

Rethinking Indonesia

Australia needs a new perspective on its northern neighbour

Tiptoeing beyond tulips with Nederlands Dans Theater

The dance company redefines an art form

‘Mix Tape 1980s’ at the National Gallery of Victoria

Ian Potter Centre, Melbourne, until September 1, 2013

© Bazmark Film III Pty Limited

Joel Edgerton after Gatsby

The actor’s 20-year flirtation with fame


More in Arts & Letters

Still from ‘No Time To Die’

The Bond market: ‘Dune’ and ‘No Time To Die’

Blockbuster season begins with a middling 007 and a must-see sci-fi epic

Abbotsford I

New poetry, after lockdowns

Bing Crosby and David Bowie on Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, circa 1977.

Oh, carols!

The music of Christmas, from the manger to the chimney

Image of Gerald Murnane

Final sentence: Gerald Murnane’s ‘Last Letter to a Reader’

The essay anthology that will be the final book from one of Australia’s most idiosyncratic authors


More in Encounters

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Rupert Murdoch & Kamahl

Mark Oliphant & J Robert Oppenheimer

John Monash & King George V

John Howard & Uri Geller


Online exclusives

Image of Oliver Twist. Image supplied.

Oliver Twist’s ‘Jali’

With quiet charisma and gentle humour, the Rwandan-Australian performer weaves together vivid autobiographical stories in this one-person show

Image of South Australia Premier Steven Marshall addressing the media during a press conference in Adelaide, August 24, 2021. Image © Morgan Sette / AAP Images

Marshall law

Premier Steven Marshall claimed South Australia was “COVID-ready” when the state opened borders just as Omicron was emerging, but it now faces the same issues as the eastern states

Image of Lisa McCune, Zahra Newman and Peter Carroll appearing on stage in Girl from the North Country. Image © Daniel Boud.

‘Girl from the North Country’

Weaving Bob Dylan songs into a story of Depression-era hardship, Conor McPherson’s musical speaks to the broken America of today

Still from ‘The Worst Person in the World’, showing Anders Danielsen Lie as Aksel and Renate Reinsve as Julie. Image courtesy Everett Collection.

‘The Worst Person in the World’

Renate Reinsve is exceptional in Joachim Trier’s satisfying Nordic rom-com