(Release Info London schedule; July 20th, 2020, Curzon Home Cinema)
We enter the world of 'The Dixie Mafia', from the 1980s to the present. Two parallel narratives telling one larger story; the three decade rise of an Arkansas-based drug kingpin known only as 'Frog' (Vince Vaughn); and the ground-floor criminal careers of two young guys at the bottom of 'Frog’s' present-day operation, Kyle (Liam Hemsworth) and Swin (Clark Duke). Posing as junior park rangers by day, they operate as low-level drug couriers by night under the watchful eye of 'Frog’s' proxies Bright (John Malkovich) and Her (Vivica A. Fox). Swin then settles into his day job by taking up a relationship with Johnna (Eden Brolin) against orders to blend in while Kyle continues to question his night job by trying to figure out who 'Frog' really is. Their world is then upended after one too many inept decisions, and Kyle, Swin, and Johnna find themselves directly in 'Frog’s' crosshairs, who mistakenly sees them as a threat to his empire. Kyle and Swin live by the orders of 'Frog' , whom they’ve never met, but a series of mistakes leads them into a deadly collision course where the only way out is to eliminate 'Frog' and take over or be killed trying to do so.
The 'Dixie Mafia' has long history of criminal cases. A plan to murder a 'Florida' prosecutor in November 1968 was discovered literally by accident, but the thwarted plol served-as a catalyst for police departments throughout 'The South' and 'Southwest' to organize a massive regional intelligence network. Police linked the foiled assassination to a loose association of traveling criminals, and by the next April had organized a regional conference in Atlanta to coordinate informatlon on the group, according to a 1971 'Intelligence' report that was one result of that conference. The report claims the news media picked up the story of the criminal 'Intelligence' meeting and came up with the name 'Dixie Mafia' for this gang, although others have credited the name to a police officer who was instrumental in developing the intelllgence network. The incident which precipitated the intelligence network was a plan to murder 'Escambia County', Fl., prosecutor Carl Harper, who's now a retired circuit court judge. Gary Elbert McDaniel, identified in the report as a burglar and hit man, was involved in a traffic accident near Pensacola. McDaniel had a handgun, a hand-drawn map and notes describing Harper, his personal habits, his car and the location of his garage in relation to his home. McDaniel was charged with conspiracy to commit murder alter interrogation revealed he had been hired by three friends to kill Harper.
He was released on bond, and roughly two months later was found in 'The Sabine River' in 'Wood County', Texas, dead from three 38 caliber slugs. A number of gun battles between the thugs and law enforcement officers are reported, including one in January 1969 in which 'Deputy Sheriff' E.R. Walthers was killed and his partner wounded in a gunfight with fugitive James Walter Cherry. Cherry was also wounded and quickly caught. Cherry was convicted of murdering Walthers, but not before three other men kidnapped a woman in 'Little Rock', Ark., in May 1970 as part of a plot to locate a prosecution witness in the murder. One of the abductors was arrested; and less than three weeks later 'Little Rock' police arrested four more men who were burglarizing an auto, parts store to raise bond money for the accused kidnapper. Although elaborately planned burglaries and thefts were a mainstay of the criminals monitored in the report, confidence swindles, scams, were frequently employed and olten netted large sums. A 'Vidalia' man was sold smuggled diamonds for $70,000 in a scam operated by three men, one of whom was supposed to be an independent gem expert. A bank president in 'Guthrie', Okl.; lost $10,000 when he thought he was buying a stolen coin collection. An attorney and a bank president from Jacksonville, Fl.; lost $140,000 in 'Corpus Christi', Texas, believing they're buying old currency and gold coins being hidden from 'The Internal Revenue Service' by a wealthy ranch executive.
'The Florida' victims sued and were awarded a $139,000 judgment against one of the criminals. The 'Vidalia' case was dropped after the victim's money was returned. Surveillance and raids on motels and residences turned up connections between the criminals and public officials. A former sheriff from Georgia and an unidentified state senator, the state was not designated, were among the people noted in the report. Stanley Lee Cook was hospitalized for several weeks alter he was shot during a struggle over his own gun Feb. 1st, 1970. The shooting occurred over the burglary of a house belonging to a former 'FBI' agent who had become friendly with Cook. Seven months later, Cook's wife was shot and wounded. She refused to press charges or tell police what happened. A handgun confiscated during an arrest of suspected 'Dixie Mafia' associates was traced to a police 'Sergeant' in 'Kentucky'; the officer lost his job. The extent to which crimes were planned came to Ught in August 1970 when police in Dallas opened a trailer on which the storage fees had expired at the airport in Dallas. The trailer contained a complete set of safe burglary tools, 83 burning bars, two gas masks, an asbestos suit, two-way radtos, a hydraulic jack, porta-power jack, weapons and diagrams of two proposed bank burglaries.
Based on the novel of the same name by John Brandon, "Arkansas" is a gritty, darkly comedic thriller about drug trafficking by the 'Dixie Mafia' in 'The Deep South' from the 1980’s to the present. "Arkansas" weaves together three decades of 'Deep South' drug trafficking to explore the cycle of violence that turns young men into criminals, and old men into legends. 'Frog' is, to use 'Fhe FBI’s' terms, a 'known associate' of 'The Dixie Mafia'. He's a true southern character, wrecked, blown up, arrested; like a Hank Jr. song come to life. This film is about crime and 'The South' and fathers and sons and cycles of violence and how a place with so few economic options can turn young men into criminals. The book 'Arkansas' by John Brandon, it's a gut punch. It's everything we want to write about, all the themes we want to explore, in this eloquent structure with dialog that left us dizzy. 'Arkansas' was his first book and his personal version of the real South. There are no banjos on the soundtrack. The real 'South' is heartbreaking and hilarious, poetic without being sentimental, mannered but brutally honest.