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"Prohibition" (2011) More at IMDbPro »TV mini-series 2011-

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Release Date:
2 October 2011 (USA) See more »
How did a nation founded on rights ever go so wrong?
The story of the American activist struggle against the influence of alcohol, climaxing in the failed early 20th century nationwide era when it was banned. Full summary »
Won Primetime Emmy. Another 3 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Greatest Legal Miscalculation of 20th Century America Documented in Outstanding Burns/Novick Film See more (11 total) »


 (Series Cast [24])

Peter Coyote ... Himself - Narrator (3 episodes, 2011)
Pete Hamill ... Himself - Writer (3 episodes, 2011)
Catherine Gilbert Murdock ... Herself - Historian (3 episodes, 2011)
Michael Lerner ... Himself - Historian (3 episodes, 2011)

Daniel Okrent ... Himself - Writer (3 episodes, 2011)
Noah Feldman ... Himself - Legal Scholar (3 episodes, 2011)
Jack Roche ... Himself - Resident of Chicago (3 episodes, 2011)
William Leuchtenburg ... Himself - Historian (3 episodes, 2011)

Patricia Clarkson ... Reader / ... (3 episodes, 2011)

John Lithgow ... Reader / ... (3 episodes, 2011)

Campbell Scott ... Reader (3 episodes, 2011)

Sam Waterston ... Reader (3 episodes, 2011)
John Paul Stevens ... Himself - Resident of Chicago (2 episodes, 2011)
Jonathan Eig ... Himself - Writer (2 episodes, 2011)
Margot Loines Wilkie ... Herself - Resident of Massachusetts (2 episodes, 2011)
Martin Marty ... Himself - Theologian (2 episodes, 2011)
Jack Clarke ... Himself - Resident of Chicago (2 episodes, 2011)
Ruth Proskauer Smith ... Herself - Resident of New York (2 episodes, 2011)
Edwin T. Hunt Jr. ... Himself - Resident of Seattle / ... (2 episodes, 2011)
Joshua Zeitz ... Himself - Historian (2 episodes, 2011)

Philip Bosco ... Reader (2 episodes, 2011)
Kevin Conway ... Reader (2 episodes, 2011)

Tom Hanks ... Reader (2 episodes, 2011)

Josh Lucas ... Reader (2 episodes, 2011)

Series Directed by
Ken Burns (3 episodes, 2011)
Lynn Novick (3 episodes, 2011)
Series Writing credits
Geoffrey C. Ward (3 episodes, 2011)

Series Produced by
Sarah Botstein .... producer (3 episodes, 2011)
Ken Burns .... executive producer / producer (3 episodes, 2011)
Elle Carriere .... coordinating producer (3 episodes, 2011)
Karen Kenton .... producer (3 episodes, 2011)
Jean Lane .... producer (3 episodes, 2011)
McKay McFadden .... associate producer (3 episodes, 2011)
Lynn Novick .... producer (3 episodes, 2011)
Mike Welt .... co-producer (3 episodes, 2011)
Series Original Music by
David Cieri (3 episodes, 2011)
Series Cinematography by
Buddy Squires (3 episodes, 2011)

Stephen McCarthy (unknown episodes)
Allen Moore (unknown episodes)
Series Film Editing by
Ryan Gifford (3 episodes, 2011)
Tricia Reidy (3 episodes, 2011)
Series Makeup Department
Maria Torfeld .... makeup artist (3 episodes, 2011)
Series Production Management
Dalton Delan .... executive in charge of production (3 episodes, 2011)
Series Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Christopher Darling .... assistant director (3 episodes, 2011)
Series Sound Department
Francis X. Coakley .... sound recordist (3 episodes, 2011)
Erik Ewers .... sound effects editor (3 episodes, 2011)
Dan Fulton .... assistant sound editor (3 episodes, 2011)
Miles Fulwider .... assistant engineer (3 episodes, 2011)
Marlena Grzaslewicz .... dialogue editor (3 episodes, 2011)
Scott Harber .... sound recordist (3 episodes, 2011)
Dan Korintus .... dialogue editor (3 episodes, 2011)
Dave Mast .... sound effects editor (3 episodes, 2011)
Michael Miller .... original dialogue mixer (3 episodes, 2011)
Jacob Ribicoff .... music editor (3 episodes, 2011)
Brian Roth .... voice over recording (3 episodes, 2011)
Mark Roy .... sound recordist (3 episodes, 2011)
Rob Silverthorne .... sound recordist (3 episodes, 2011)
Michael Suarez .... audio prelay (3 episodes, 2011)
Dominick Tavella .... sound re-recording mixer (3 episodes, 2011)
Lou Verrico .... voice over recording (3 episodes, 2011)
John Zecca .... sound recordist (3 episodes, 2011)
Series Camera and Electrical Department
Chris Beardsley .... technician (3 episodes, 2011)
Bob Bushfield .... gaffer (3 episodes, 2011)
Kathy Gallo .... assistant camera (3 episodes, 2011)
Ned Hallick .... gaffer (3 episodes, 2011)
Sarah L. Hendrick .... assistant camera (3 episodes, 2011)
Peter Kuttner .... assistant camera (3 episodes, 2011)
Stephen McCarthy .... additional cinematographer (3 episodes, 2011)
Allen Moore .... additional cinematographer (3 episodes, 2011)
Joe Morrone .... assistant camera (3 episodes, 2011)
Stephen Mortell .... video technician (3 episodes, 2011)
John M. Roche .... gaffer (3 episodes, 2011)
John Romeo .... assistant camera (3 episodes, 2011)
Anthony Savini .... gaffer (3 episodes, 2011)
Jill Tufts .... assistant camera (3 episodes, 2011)
Series Editorial Department
Evan Barlow .... assistant editor (3 episodes, 2011)
John Dowdell .... colorist (3 episodes, 2011)
Peter Heady .... finishing artist (3 episodes, 2011)
Ted Raviv .... apprentice editor (3 episodes, 2011)
Richard Rubin .... assistant editor (3 episodes, 2011)
Margaret Shepardson-Legere .... assistant editor (3 episodes, 2011)
Tim Spitzer .... hd supervisor (3 episodes, 2011)
Series Music Department
Estelle Bajou .... violin (3 episodes, 2011)
David Cieri .... musician: piano (3 episodes, 2011)
Vincent Gardner .... musician: trombone (3 episodes, 2011)
Victor Goines .... musician: clarinet (3 episodes, 2011)
Carlos Henriquez .... musician: bass (3 episodes, 2011)
Ali Jackson .... musician: drums (3 episodes, 2011)
Dan Morgenstern .... music consultant (3 episodes, 2011)
Dan Nimmer .... musician: piano (3 episodes, 2011)
Marcus Printup .... musician: trumpet (3 episodes, 2011)
Wynton Marsalis .... music arranger / musician: trumpet (2 episodes, 2011)
Series Other crew
Lisa Andracke .... production assistant (3 episodes, 2011)
Paul Barnes .... program advisor (3 episodes, 2011)
Dayton Duncan .... program advisor (3 episodes, 2011)
Julie Dunfey .... program advisor (3 episodes, 2011)
Catherine Gilbert Murdock .... program advisor (3 episodes, 2011)
Robert N. Gold .... legal services (3 episodes, 2011)
Anne Harrington .... media director (3 episodes, 2011)
Lisa Hartjens .... research assistant (3 episodes, 2011)
Brenda Heath .... financial advisor (3 episodes, 2011)
Mike Hill .... research assistant (3 episodes, 2011)
Craig Impink .... developer (3 episodes, 2011)
Kim Klein .... developer (3 episodes, 2011)
Patty Lawlor .... financial officer (3 episodes, 2011)
Michael Lerner .... program advisor (3 episodes, 2011)
William Leuchtenburg .... program advisor (3 episodes, 2011)
Valerie Marcus .... legal services (3 episodes, 2011)
Martin Marty .... program advisor (3 episodes, 2011)
Dave Mast .... technical director (3 episodes, 2011)
David Mcmahon .... program advisor (3 episodes, 2011)
Daniel Okrent .... senior creative consultant (3 episodes, 2011)
Drew Patrick .... legal services (3 episodes, 2011)
Polly Pettit .... research assistant (3 episodes, 2011)
John Russick .... program advisor (3 episodes, 2011)
Colleen Sackheim .... transcriptor (3 episodes, 2011)
Stacey Schwartz .... project manager (3 episodes, 2011)
David S. Thompson .... project director (3 episodes, 2011)
Kim Tomadjoglou .... research assistant (3 episodes, 2011)
Geoffrey C. Ward .... senior advisor (3 episodes, 2011)
Kathryn Wilson .... project manager (3 episodes, 2011)

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful.
Greatest Legal Miscalculation of 20th Century America Documented in Outstanding Burns/Novick Film, 8 October 2011
Author: classicalsteve from Oakland, CA

My favorite comment in this documentary is offered by Pete Hamill, American journalist, novelist and essayist, who said basically if you want people to brush their teeth, pass a law banning toothpaste. And then people will do everything they can to acquire toothpaste illegally, and they'll brush their teeth just to spite the law. The unforeseen consequence of Prohibition is that once you take away a person's right to do something that people have always done, people will feel the desire to want it much more intensely, in the same way if you deny a child all sweets, the kid will be sneaking chocolate inside his jacket sleeves. Hamill later says he doesn't drink, but he would probably take a swig in front of a government building if the law ever forbade him from doing it. Encouraging moderation is not the same as banning something completely.

The other comment worth noting concerns repeal crusader Pauline Sabin who had been entrenched in republican politics prior to 1928. Republican congressmen would vote to adhere to the strictest of prohibition laws as laid out by the Volstead Act and then go to one of Sabin's parties demanding a drink. She concluded that the United States had become "a Nation of Hypocrites", which is the title of the third installment of Burn's documentary. Sabin becomes an unlikely hero who would sway the country against Prohibition and the eventual repeal of the 18th Amendment of the Constitution, the only amendment so dignified. Ironically, Daniel Okrent points out that today alcohol is somewhat harder to come by than during Prohibition because of liquor laws, underage drinking laws, etc. When alcohol was strictly forbidden, there was nothing in place to regulate it, except for raids on speakeasies and private distilleries.

Based in part on Daniel Okrent's "Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition", Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's "Prohibition" is a thoroughly entertaining, simultaneously humorous and "sobering" look at one of the strangest episodes in American legal history. The documentary is in three parts, the first chronicling the birth of the temperance movement which began in the 1820's almost a century before the ratification of the 18th Amendment. No question that alcohol was a problem for some people, mostly among the rural poor, but the temperance movement decided alcohol itself was the problem and vowed its eradication by the late 19th century. The first part ends with the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibiting not only the sale but importation of alcohol. Part two concerns the passage of the Volstead Act designed to enforce the amendment, and the immediate consequences of trying to stop people from drinking, and the antithetical results, such as lawlessness and bribery. The third and most sobering of the episodes chronicles many of the unintended consequences, such as the violence erupting in Chicago and the night club craze. The documentary ends with the movement for the repeal of the 18th Amendment.

The unforeseen catastrophes of the 18th Amendment which were designed to heighten American morality and assuage drunkenness turned America into one of the most alcoholic-driven nations among the industrialized world. Americans drank more booze, partied more, got more drunk, and flaunted the law more often during Prohibition than at any other time in the nation's history since after the Civil War, even as compared to the present time. Possibly only the 1960's are somewhat comparable to the mayhem of the 1920's.

The irony of ironies that the decade begun by the Temperance Movement's victory with the passage of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1919 would be nicknamed the Roarding Twenties and the Jazz Age. This was not a decade known for drinking milk. This was a decade characterized by cocktail glasses in the hands of flappers dancing on tables to the evocative music of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Men would be raising giant mugs of frothy beer in underground establishments called speakeasies. Only Prohibition allowed the likes of Al Capone and Lucky Luciano to become wealthy gangsters, almost movie stars by today's standards. The leaders of the Temperance Movement, particularly the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League, were appalled when their daughters ran off to speakeasies and night clubs to partake of the forbidden fruit. Strangely, Prohibition helped usher in the Night Club culture of America which has continued unabated ever since. All the great night clubs famous for their booze, music, and dancing such as the Cotton Club and the Stork Club, were incepted when alcohol was supposed to be illegal.

For some reason, I didn't think Prohibition permeated into so many aspects of American life during its enforcement from 1920 through 1932. People could open small businesses in their basements and make a fortune through bootlegging, and then be hauled away under the Volstead Act. The rise of the Chicago Gang syndicate became a prototype for similar syndicates across the country, all vying for their bootlegging territory. At one point, citizens were legally compelled to snitch on neighbors suspected of bootlegging. The story as presented by Burns/Novick is as compelling as any action thriller being produced today. A great movie of American history, with all the elements that make a great story. Essentially it's a legal thriller with sex, violence, and lots of booze. Lots of it.

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