Thursday, August 15, 2013

The American Gangster (1992)

Director: Ben Burtt.  Yes, THAT Ben Burtt.

Starring: Dennis Farina and lots of bad guys from the first half of the 20th Century.

More info: IMDb

Plot: They fixed the World Series. They built Las Vegas. They terrorized America with their vicious murders and fearless robberies. They are men named Bugsy Siegal, Al Capone, John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Lucky Luciano. And, for the first time, The American Gangster tells the true story behind their ruthless rise to wealth and power. Filled with vintage film and actual photographs, The American Gangster is a gripping look at the birth of organized crime. From prohibition to prostitution, from gangland massacres to gambling empires, their most infamous deeds are chronicled in shocking detail. Even more explosive than the movies they inspired, such as Scarface and The Godfather, are the true histories of the brilliant, brutal gangsters who turned the American Dream into an ongoing nightmare.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Probably

First of all you've got the great Dennis Farina narrating the picture and then you've got a solid 45 minutes of pictures and footage of tons of famous gangsters of the 20s, 30s and 40s.  It begins with Prohibition in 1920 and goes through to the downfall of the men still left in the 40s.  It's impossible to get too in depth with a tremendous subject as this in 45 minutes but writer Ray Herbeck Jr. packs in a shitload of information.  This isn't your typical Discovery Channel documentary where the narrator speaks slowly, repeats information and drags out something that should have only been 20 minutes long.  No, this one moves fast and presents an excellent overview of the rise of organized crime focusing on people like Capone, Siegal, Luciano, Lansky but not forgetting to mention briefly about the Depression-era criminals like Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, etc.  I was shocked to see that Ben Burtt (you know, the sound guy for shit like STAR WARS (1977) and tons of other amazing films) directed this.  You can pick it up for under five bucks on Amazon.  Sadly there are no extras.

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