“How I Fell in Love with a Gangster” review: different from the real “King of Tricity”

About Maciej Kawulski’s “How I Fell in Love with a Gangster” still loud – disappointed critics, who liked the director’s previous film, do not leave a dry thread in the latest film. The wife of the shot Nikodem Skotarczak calls for a boycott, and Internet users discuss the fashion for romanticizing former Polish bandits. Exactly – the film Nikos differs from the real one after all. What is the true story of the “King of the Tricity”?

All those who claim that Nikos (played by the great Tomaszłosok) from the movie “How I Love a Gangster” do not have much to do with the real one, shot in 1998, is right. On the board that opens the picture (which disappears before the eyes of the average person can even slip over the text), there is a piece of information that it is “inspired by the life of Nikodem Skotarczak aka Nikoś”. We read further that:

The characters, events and dialogues are inspired by real events and people, but are not documentary, but literary fiction. Some of the people and events in the life of Nikodem Skotarczak were omitted due to the artistic vision of the creators, therefore the presented story cannot be treated as a biography or a document.


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How I fell in love with a gangster – movie vs real events

How I fell in love with the gangster – the movie NikosThis type of information often eludes viewers (especially when you need to press a pause to read the text); indeed, for many people, “fact-based” or “inspired by real events” means nothing less than a biographical production that is true to real events. In the case of “How I Love a Gangster”, however, no one promised full truthfulness. Anyway, the most popular Hollywood gangster films, whose creators draw from the lives of real criminals, in most cases use facts as much as they match the artistic vision and story that the authors want to tell.

And although the discussion on romanticizing Polish gangsters (glorifying them or, worse, granting them the status of celebrities) touches on a rather serious problem, Kawulski cannot be faulted (except for the quality of the production itself) – he did so, what many filmmakers before him. “How I fell in love with the gangster” film fiction and fully entertainment cinema, exclusively to give aspiring entertainment. The film Nikos is therefore suitably attractive to the viewer, to fit the convention – it would have been impossible if Kawulski had decided to transfer to his film an incarnation of a gangster as faithful to the original as possible.

Nikodem Skotarczak: a true story

Sure, it’s not that Kawulski’s story is a completely original story. Many of its elements have actually taken place – car theft; the way Skotarczak escaped from prison; part of friendships and conflicts; “sports activities” in connection with the Lechia Gdańsk club, etc. The biggest differences can be seen in the character and attitude of the characters – the real Nikos was apparently much less go-getting, but you could feel his enormous pressure on the glass from a distance. Of course, knowledge about him is based on many distorted (by time or on purpose) memories of those who knew him, and materials collected by the authors of documentaries or other publications. So let’s summarize what is really known about his biography.


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Nikodem Skotarczak was born in the 1950s in Pruszcz Gdański. He did not do very well at school, which is why he decided to focus rather quickly on his work – as a nineteen-year-old he took a job as a goalkeeper at the “Lucynka” nightclub (Gdańsk underworld and Lechia’s players attended there), and later at the “Maxim” club. Sometimes, together with his brother, he stole a cart, traded in currency, and collected money from money changers for Michał A. ps. “Patron”. He expanded his activities in currency fraud to Hungary, where he made several acquaintances with other criminals. He started trading watches and cars through them; then he also ordered the first (unsuccessful) murder of a man with whom he had come into conflict in Budapest.

According to “Rzeczpospolita” in a publication from 2000, in the opinion of one of the high-ranking officers of the Department for Combating Organized Crime in the Gdańsk Police, Nikoś founded the first group dealing with smuggling cars from Germany to Poland in the 1970s. He owes him to the godfather of the Polish mafia car thieves, “he owes to his later exploits – he has been officially proven to receive or stolen less than 30 cars, but unofficially it is said that several hundred or even over a thousand have been smuggled. In the 1980s, Skotarczyk controlled a gang operating in many European countries. At the beginning of the decade, he was already a sponsor of Lechia Gdańsk – he would come to matches in a Mercedes 500, the only one on the coast. He also smuggled cars with the help of rugby players. After the third league club won the Polish Cup, he was honored by Ryszard Rynkowski, the president of the city, with the “Meritorious for Gdańsk” distinction.

For some time he lived in West Germany, which, due to the law and relatively friendly prison conditions, was conducive to the proliferation of criminal structures. The thieves efficiently forged the documents of cars brought to Poland – they were said to be able to provide customers with exactly the car they wanted. In the mid-1980s, the prosecutor’s office found evidence of forgeries – Nikos, having been warned about the arrest warrant (which he often did), fled to Hamburg. His sister Teresa was soon detained – she was 33 years old when she hanged herself in custody.

Nikodem Skotarczak


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Two years later, Nikos was arrested while the stolen Audi was driving with Mańko. He was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison, which began with his imprisonment at Moabit Prison in Berlin. Later he ended up in the prison “Tegel”, from where he escaped after three months. During the visit with his brother, he exchanged clothes with him and simply left the prison, from where he drove away in a car. The rangers didn’t realize the trick until a few weeks later. The investigation was soon suspended.

In the early 1990s, he illegally returned to Poland. He chose his new partner, Edyta (who was critical of Kawulski’s film), in Krakow. Two of his children from previous relationships were also there. On Easter 1992, his mother and brother Marek was to visit him. On the way, my brother called from a phone booth and they talked about a possible police tail. A few hours later there was a road accident – Marek and his mother died on the spot. Soon after, the police found the address of Nikodem’s stay in Krakow, but he once again fled at the last minute – this time to Warsaw (he sprayed a car from a police cauldron with diplomatic numbers).

When he was about to sell a stolen delivery van in July of the same year, the police caught him red-handed. It was not enough, however, because Nikos also escaped from the convoy. He was wanted by an arrest warrant, but he could still be found in Sopot nightclubs. How he succeeded is unknown so far, but sources are staking enormous bribes to all escorts.

He was in hiding for a year, when he was finally captured again, this time in Żoliborz. Apparently, a large part of the underworld was convinced that the gangster, tired of constantly running away, allowed himself to be caught – he wanted to do his own thing and start a normal, stable life. In court, he only admitted using false documents and escaping from the convoy. The car trafficking was not proven, so he was only sentenced for the above-mentioned crimes to two years’ imprisonment. He was released ahead of schedule in 1994, allegedly for good behavior, although in fact bribes were again in the making. His trial could not start for a long time – while Skotarczak always appeared in court, each time one of the co-accused was missing.

He returned to Pomerania. He invested in legitimate interests by withdrawing from criminal activities. In the meantime, he was recovering stolen cars, for which many famous and influential people were grateful to him (being a VIP, it was enough to report to him through the right people). He did it for free. He also appeared in “Sztos” by Olaf Lubaszenka, which he unofficially co-produced. He was still in touch with the underworld, including the Wołomin group, which the Pruszków gang did not like. Once, several dozen people went north to humiliate Nikos, but the latter … informed the police about the situation. In the center of Sopot, anti-terrorists arrested the Pruszkowiaks.

Wojciech K. ps. “Kura”, a friend of Nikos, in April 1998 celebrated his name day at the “Marco Polo” club. Soon the party moved to “Las Vegas”, where only Kura and Nikos and their wives remained until the very end. At one point, two masked men entered the premises; one fired six shots from a TT pistol at Nicodemus, hitting the stomach and head. The hen was injured in the leg with a ricochet. The killers and clients were not caught, although a crown witness, the famous “Masa”, testifying under oath, argued that it was the Pruszków mafia. Nikos was to be staged by Krzysztof P., a car thief, and the killers were allegedly related to the Łódź “octopus” by professional killers, who were equally reluctant to the “king of the Tri-City”.

The killers knew the exact layout of the premises. Before the arrival of the murderers, the gangster’s security had fled, and the bartender also left. Apparently, Nicodemus himself was warned that he was commissioned by him – he even bought himself a bulletproof vest. Did not help.


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Still, others claimed that this execution could have been planned by an insolvent debtor – Skotarczak was supposed to borrow money in a Sopot casino at a very high percentage (he won 5% daily).

There was a problem with the burial. The parish priest in Gdańsk Jelitkowo refused. Nikos was buried in Catholic only after the intervention of Archbishop Tadeusz Gocłowski.

According to those who knew him, Nikos was extremely cunning, though he did not seem too bright in use. He had a soft spot for stimulants and loved being talked about. He valued luxuries. Another thing was that he was not a gangster-like the others, the most dangerous at the time. Quoting a statement by a Gdańsk policeman for “Rzeczpospolita” in 2000: “If all criminals were like Nikos once, it would not be that bad. He is a criminal, and he did not burn his body with a hot iron, he did not pour acid on people. Now we are dealing with young people. , using ruthless methods, bandits.

The CBŚ policeman, who tracked Nikos undercover, soon began to be seen in his jackets and luxurious jackets. Apparently, after the gangster’s death, he protected Edyta; he fell in love with her and helped her to collect her husband’s debts. Soon he was forced to leave the police. Law enforcement officers long feared that after the death of forty-year-old Nikos, criminal groups would fight for power in the Tricity, due to his high and well-established position among them.

What do you think about How I Fell in Love with a Gangster review? Let us know in the comments.

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