American Gangster DVD: Review By Brian Gallagher

Some very interesting insight into the history of the underworld and fantastic narration by Dennis Farina.
  • OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Some very interesting insight into the history of the underworld and fantastic narration by Dennis Farina.
THE BAD
Some of the reenactments are rather dull, this probably could've been longer and there are no special features.
THE FEATURE
It was pretty sneaky for them to throw this DVD at us on the very same day that the critically acclaimed, sans "The" release American Gangster hits the DVD shelves. This 1992 doc*mentary doesn't tread the same waters as that based-off-a-true-story film, but it does give us some solid insight into the forefathers of gangsterdom.

This doc*mentary only runs a brisk 45 minutes long, and is basically comprised of artists renditions, old newspaper headlines and newsreel footage. Dennis Farina was a perfect pick to narrate this doc, and he does so with only the style and flair that Farina has.

This doc*mentary takes us all the way back to the turn of the 20th Century, and the influx of immigrants that flooded Ellis Island... most notably, Charlie "Lucky" Lucciano, Benjamin "Bugsy" Seagal and Meyer Lansky. The doc shows us these three gangsters' humble beginnings in New York City, and how they, along with associates like Al Capone and the nefarious hit squad known as Murder Inc., turned their small-time gangs into a national syndicate of crime and corruption.

It's quite an informative look at how these gangsters changed the life of crime forever and Farina's narration saves it from being just a bunch of footage strung together, and molds it into a solid piece. The little artists reenactments of many of the murders, complete with corny sound effects, sometimes does give this a classroom feel, but overall, the piece works.
THE EXTRAS
Nothing to see here folks.
THE VIDEO
The disc is presented in the fullscreen format, in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
THE AUDIO
The sound is handled via the Dolby Digital Stereo format.
THE PACKAGE
Pretty plain here. The front cover is basically just one huge title card, with some blood drops on the title and an outline of two gangsters. The back has basically the same outline only enhanced a bit more, a brief synopsis, three random pics from the doc*mentary along with the billing block and tech specs.
THE FINAL WORD
Unless you're a hardcored gangster aficionado, I wouldn't advise buying this, as there isn't a whole lot of replay value here. However, if you're looking for a good one-time watch on the history of organized crime in America, you won't be let down from this solid doc*mentary.

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