Scott E. Browning | Newport Beach, CA. U.S.A. | 12/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first watched an episode of CRIME INC. approximately 22 years ago on the Discovery Channel, when I was just starting high school. I was just blown away by it. This is an outstanding documentary mini-series that I just cannot stop watching. There is just so much to learn about the history of the real-life American mafia. This series first aired in 1984. It came out just after the release of the remake of the movie, SCARFACE, which was released in 1983. This series has the slogan, "Forget what you've seen in the movies. Meet the real goodfellas." Indeed, what you see in the movies and what you see in real life is not necessarily the same thing. CRIME INC. is proof of that. The series is divided up into the following seven parts:
PART I-"All In The Family"-This part basically defines the word, MAFIA. It answers questions like the following: What is the meaning of "La Cosa Nostra"? How is the mafia built or organized? Who and what are the people that are part of the mafia? How do you get to become a mafia member? What are the rules/commandments in the mafia? How do mafia members relate to each other; their own families; their friends and neighbors; non-mafia members; other criminals not in the maifa and to the general American public?
PART II-"Making Of The Mob"-Here we watch how gangsterism was formed and developed in Chicago, Illinois starting in the 1920's to the present day. During the 1920's, many factors were charactersitic of this decade with the mafia: Prohibition, speakeasies, fancy antique cars, the Tommy Gun, shoot-'em-up's, murder, and arguably the world's most notorious mafia member, Al Capone. Prohibition was of course very advantageous for these hoodlums to create illegal booze businesses and supply them for the American population. This part explains why Prohibition helped with the "Making of the Mob".
PART III-"Racket Busters"-This part discusses how law enforcement has dealt with organized crime throughout American history. It gives you details such how John Edgar Hoover, whom with all his talent and intelligence to create the federal government and to create forces to take down individual bank robbers like John Dillinger and Bonnie & Clyde, he was too hesitant and shy to deal with the mafia. However, as time has gone on, our government has improved its abilities to couterattack the mafia and regulate its members if not completely eliminate them.
PART IV-"The Birthright Of Gangsters"-This episode discusses and shows that the mafia understands and practices gambling more than just about anyone else as if it is their birthright. It talks about how gansters like Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel helped build Las Vegas and made it into a multi-million-dollar city. Also, it talks about how performers like Frank Sinatra, are involved with the mafia and at the same time are trying to apply for a position at one of the Las Vegas casinos, and how the mafia uses funds from labor unions like the Teamsters to fund casinos and do skimming, (illegal taking of money).
PART V-"The Mob At Work"-The episode here talks about how the mafia throughout its history has exploited the American workforce. It shows that the mafia has made dishonest leaders of a union, and has corrupted both bosses and politicians who have refused to counteract racketeers. Moreover, this episode shows how the International Brotherhood of Teamsters which in spite of becoming one of the biggest labor unions during its history has been basically a tool for the mafia to extort money, thus providing little or no benefit for Teamster members. It shows you that a few of its presidents, including Jimmy Hoffa have been sent to jail for labor extortion.
PART VI-"Make It Legitimate"-This part discusses the way the mafia infiltrates perfectly legitimate businesses and that it uses the same methods that it uses with illegitimate businesses such as, force, racketeering, and deceit. An example is how the Westchester Premier Theater in upstate New York was used as a pumping ground for the mafia to rack up millions of dollars from the general public. Another example it shows is how a city like Newark, New Jersey, which was prosperous during the 1950's, yet beacuse of mafia infiltration, has become a practical wasteland. Once again, this series first aired in 1984. Therefore, my only question is this; What's the state of Newark, New Jersey now?
PART VII-"The Old Mob And The New"-The first part of this episode talks about how criminal groups in Miami, Florida, (mainly Afro-American and Cuban), have connections with countries like Colombia to import drugs, (basically marijuana and cocaine), create their own illegal business empires, and ship them to various cities of the United States. It also shows you that they have done well enough to buy off judges, police officers, prosecutors, and the like so that their empire can run smoothly. It asks questions like, "Could these gangs compete with the old and traditional Italian crime families?" and "Do the new black and Latio gangs pose a threat to and are willing to override the tradtional mafia gangs?" The other part explores how the old and traditional mafia has had ties with Asia and the Middle East in terms of coverting opium to morphine, transporting it to Sicily, (where its converted into heroin), and then shipped to New York, (where it is then sold by various mafia gangs as well as not so well-orgaznized gangs).
This series has plenty to offer: Historical footage about the formations of gangs, footage of murders which have taken place, and interivews with prosecutors, lawyers, federal agents, cops, and even former mafia members turned F.B.I. informers. This is as once stated, a documentary mini-series, not a movie.
CRIME INC is definitely beyond its time. Since it frst aired back in 1984, there have been movies that have been released like GOODFELLAS and DONNIE BROSCO, as well as shows on the HISTORY CHANNEL and the BIOGRAPHY CHANNEL about the mafia. This two-disc DVD set could be used for a class which could be called MAFIA 101."