Synopses & Reviews
He was one of the brightest stars at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce--a rumpled young workaholic, astute, decisive, and helpful, with a quick wit and a winning sense of humor. But Brian Molony has a secret: he loved to gamble, every chance he got. The unsuspecting bank was soon fuelling that obsession, as Molony began "borrowing" more and more money. By the end, Molony's branch of the CIBC was out more than ten million dollars, and still had not noticed the money was gone. The conservative young assistant manager had become one of the biggest high-rollers the casinos had ever seen and earned himself a place in the annals of criminal history.
McClelland & Stewart
: Where did you get your information when researching Stung
Gary Ross: I interviewed Molony at great length – four or five hours a day for months. Neither the bank nor the casino would talk to me, but there was a lot of material on the public record in Ontario and New Jersey because of the criminal charges and the civil suit the bank filed against the casino.
M&S: What was it about the story initially that caught your interest?
GR: I was senior editor at Saturday Night magazine at the time the fraud was discovered, right across the street from the Bay and Richmond (Toronto) branch of the CIBC. I assumed it was some sophisticated computer scam – how else could you liberate $10.2-million from a big bank? – and was intrigued to learn from Eddie Greenspan, Brian Molony's lawyer, that Molony was a compulsive gambler and that the frauds had been acts of improvised desperation rather than an elegant criminal scheme.
M&S: What were you most surprised to learn while conducting your research?
GR: That a gambling addiction can be every bit as devastating, and as hard to treat, as a drug or alcohol dependency. It's all the more insidious for being invisible, and it's far more widespread than most people understand. A lot of social security checks, pay checks, and even liquidated homes end up on the casino's bottom line.
M&S: How does the movie differ from how you envisioned the story?
GR: It's remarkably faithful to what actually happened. I assumed a great many liberties would be taken in the transition from page to screen, and I'm pleased that the changes were minor and inconsequential. The pathos and grimness of what happened is there in the movie.
M&S: Is Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Dan Mahowny anything like the real Brian Molony?
GR: Remarkably so. They have the same stocky build, bushy moustache, glasses, slightly unkempt look, and earnestness. And Philip somehow managed to assimilate the psychic essence of Molony – a yawning emptiness that nothing except gambling was able to fill.
M&S: What happened to the real character after he was arrested?
GR: He pled guilty to fraud, was sentenced to six years, and is now making a life for himself with the girlfriend who stuck by him (Minnie Driver in the film), now his wife and the mother of their three boys. He hasn't gambled since the night of his arrest, twenty years ago now.