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This short documentary is put together with clips from the old Warner Brothers gangster films and commentary from folks who are both in front of and behind the camera. It concerns the affects of Prohibition on the Hollywood film industry as well as on the country at large.
We are still to this day feeling the affects of that pathetic attempt to legislate morality that was forced on us by the 18th amendment and the Volstead Act starting in 1920. Mind you this was foisted upon us by the same people who are today fighting against same sex marriage.
Of course people flouted the law with abandon and a new class of criminal was born, the bootlegger who supplied a service people wanted. He became a hero of sorts and eventually the illegal industry was organized and systematized. The phrase 'organized crime' came into being.
As Hollywood always follows popular trends the careers of such people as James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, etc. came into being. Gangsters became screen romantic heroes. The legend stayed even after the 18th amendment was repealed. Organizations that were illegal also stayed to this day just finding different outlets for criminal enterprise.
The gangster genre was really born in the sound era. There were silent films about criminals as protagonists, but the snappy dialog is what made the gangster film. I can't conceive of a silent Cagney for instance.
Some good points are made about the genre and some wonderful reminders from the best of Warner Brothers who did the gangster film far and away the best.
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