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Weegee: Photos of a seedy underworld

A loner and an outlier, Weegee took news snaps of people on the margins – which went on to influence photographers after his death. A new reissue of his classic photobook Naked City reveals the extraordinary power of his images.

By Oliver Lunn
March 4, 2020

Arthur Fellig was a freelance news photographer famed for his gritty crime pictures of New York City in the late 1930s and 40s. Known as Weegee, perhaps a wordplay on ‘OuiJa board’ because of his prescient arrivals at the scenes of emergencies, he appeared like a character from a Hollywood film noir – cigar between his lips, cartoonishly big camera flash around his neck, a vocabulary that referred to dead bodies as “stiffs”…

Witness, December 22, 1960 (Episode 12)

Peter Falk as Abe “Kid Twist” Reles (1906-1941) of Murder Inc…

Begins and ends with the narrator holding a photo: “This is a picture of George ‘Whitey’ Rudnick…” (no mention of Rudnick’s drug addiction).
Irving “Puggy” Feinstein (1909–1939) reference at 49:49.

PM, February 3, 1942, pp. 10-11, Vol. II, No. 164

Off Duty Cop Does Duty, Kills Gunman Who Tries Stickup
The boys were playing a little pool and cards in the Spring Arrow Social and Athletic Club, 344 Broome St., near the Bowery last night. Patrolman Eligio Sarro, off duty, went in for a pack of cigarets. Four men entered. “This is a stick-up,” the leader muttered. Sarro was a little slow getting his hands out of his overcoat pockets. “Get ’em up,” ordered the leader, Sarro did. One hand held a gun. When he got through firing, the leader was dead.

The usual curious crowd gathered after the gunman, fatally wounded, staggered from the entrance. He was about 22, dark and chunky. Police said he was Andrew Izzo with a record of six arrests.

Patrolman Sarro smokes a cigaret a few minutes after he dropped the gunman. He’s assigned to the Empire Blvd. precinct in Brooklyn. He lives only a few doors from the club.
PM Photos by Weegee