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  • American Experience - Las Vegas - An Unconventional History
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American Experience - Las Vegas - An Unconventional History

10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Murphy
  • Directors: Stephen Ives
  • Format: Black & White, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: November 8, 2005
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000AXWHIA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,332 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 2005
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Under the impression of this slogan many visitors believe that they can bring out their wild and uninhibited self while fulfilling their wildest imaginations and fantasies in Vegas, as no one would ever find out. For this reason many pilgrimage out to this oasis of sin and pleasure, as it would allow them to be completely free. The PBS documentary Las Vegas: An Unconventional History offers the audience a historical perspective to how Las Vegas has become the resort for personal desires.

Today, Las Vegas is a booming modern metropolitan city that is amidst a flowering period where money stream into the city through a constant flow of tourists. It has, ever since the completion of the railway that runs through Las Vegas, been a city friendly to strangers. However, the kindness towards strangers has always been reciprocal, as the city provides pleasures while the strangers dropped their hard earned money in a few minutes of hope and desire for something better. Through gambling and prostitution Las Vegas exchanged money for dreams with the visitors, and this is how people helped build this concrete giant.

Despite the banning of gambling, the bars and gambling spots continued to provide the service for the visitors. The building of the Hoover Dam and the development of the atomic bomb also helped boost the number of visitors to Las Vegas, as there was nothing else to do in the arid city than to drink booze, party, and gamble. Thus, the city became a hot spot for those who sought some escape from the hard reality outside its city limits.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By I. Chiang on February 1, 2007
The overall content of this DVD is fine. It goes through a desert town with water supply, rising due to Hoover Dam, Bugsy and the mobs, Howard Hughes, the fires of MGM and Hilton and the challenges of Atlantic City. Then it stops here in spite of its being released in 2005.

This is disappointing since it is kind of distant from what we see today. After I've visited Las Vegas twice and watched this film, a gap is certainly there and I just cannot bridge them together. I'd like to know more about Steve Wynn, how these latest casinos are built, what they look like inside...etc.

So if you really intend to know the history of Las Vegas, it is a fine piece. But if you are in the case like me more preferring in the modern part of Las Vegas, you should leave it aside.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Vegas Gar on July 12, 2008
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This DVD is well worth the money, it is very well made and an excellent resource on the history of Las Vegas. There is a lot of old footage of the strip and downtown that I hadn't seen before. If you are wanting a DVD on the hotels & casinos of modern day Las Vegas, you probably want to stay away from this since it presents a historical view of the town. Modern Las Vegas is constantly refered to, but there is no detail of any of the newer casinos. What I really enjoyed was the vignettes that are injected throughout the DVD, they include very real people to live and have moved to Las Vegas. They are not all happy stories and show people who have had hard lives in Sin City. The DVD is one disc that has 2 parts to choose from. It also has a couple of extra features, but nothing to get excited about. Well worth the money, in my opinion.
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I wanted to know the history of Las Vegas, going deeper than the commonly known info. It's common knowledge that organized crime created Las Vegas, but this documentary delves into how it transformed into legitimate corporations owning the city's wealth, through Howard Hughes and Steve Wynn, and how television and other kinds of ads, the Interstate Highway System, and increased air travel made it explode in popularity in the 50s. I learned how the Hoover Dam project, military bases beginning in WWII, atomic testing in the nearby desert, performance acts by people from Hollywood and New York, closeness to Los Angeles (comparatively speaking), and new face of "legitimacy" beginning with Howard Hughes, all contributed to its popularity. The fundamental reason early-20th-century Nevada had lax laws about gambling, divorce, and prostitution while the rest of America had conservative laws, was because climate made agriculture unprofitable for the state.

Something I really like about this documentary is that besides analyzing causes and narrating history, it often features present-day people who have some kind of role in the city, such as a gambling addict whose addiction caused him to attempt a bank robbery, a schoolteacher who explains the negative impact on kids--because of their parents working at the casinos and resorts in evenings and the fact that people can make good money WITHOUT education in Vegas--and numerous other people.

The DVD also includes a 1950s government film on nuclear testing and the importance of being prepared for nuclear disaster, by the Federal Civil Defense Administration, and it's a powerful reminder that they were just as scared back then about destruction as people have been since 9/11 about terrorism.
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