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American Gangster: Season 1 (2009)

Alex Alonso , Chico Brown  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Alex Alonso, Chico Brown, Bernard Parks, Freeway Rick Ross, Aqeela Sherrills
  • Producers: Chris Mortensen, Frank Sinton, Henry Schipper, Jonathan Koch, Lauren Feldman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: October 23, 2007
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000TGJ8EY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,232 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "American Gangster: Season 1" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Exclusive interview with son of Stanley "Tookie" Williams
  • Season 2 sneak peek
  • Extended interviews

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

AMERICAN GANGSTER is BET’s critically acclaimed, highly rated crime docu-series that explores the historical, socio-economic and political context surrounding the rise and fall of 9 notorious African-American criminal minds. These are not just your two-bit hustlers…One modeled his organization after the management structure of General Motors. Another studied gemology to be well versed and blend in among an elite audience of jewelers and high end collectors. Another was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature for children’s books before he was eventually executed. What was the catalyst for their life of crime? How does their story begin and end? This groundbreaking series digs deeper to answer these and other poignant questions.

A fascinating, hypnotic documentary series, American Gangster investigates the lives of African-American druglords, thieves, and gang leaders. The most compelling story is probably that of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, who co-founded the Crips, counseled at-risk youth, appeared on The Gong Show as a bodybuilder, had a mental breakdown from drug use, had a social awakening in prison, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end gang warfare, before finally being executed for multiple murders. But American Gangster also uses his story to delve into how the cultural vacuum created by the collapse of the civil rights movement led to the rise of gangs--just as its episodes on drug lords like the Chamber Brothers and Leroy "Nicky" Barnes (who appeared on the cover of a Sunday New York Times Magazine next to the headline "Mr. Untouchable") explore the history of heroin and cocaine trafficking. Narrated by the authoritative voice of Ving Rhames (Rosewood, Dawn of the Dead), the show balances salacious details (the women who sorted "Freeway" Ricky Ross's cocaine did so topless, so that they couldn't steal any) and sharp sociological observations. The life of Ross, whose blocked aspirations as a tennis player led to a wildly successful drug empire, intersects with the Iran-Contra scandals of the Reagan Administration. The episode about jewel thieves Dino and Troy Smith, who went in for one last score after going straight for a while, plays out like a topnotch thriller, while the life of Lorenzo "Fat Cat" Nichols seems even more of a sad waste than these other ambitious, intelligent, and ruthless men whose talents found no place in the American mainstream. American Gangster doesn't forgive anyone's crimes, but its breadth of vision demonstrates the social forces that make crime seem inevitable. The result is compulsive and enlightening viewing. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
American Gangster - First Season - at first glance may suggest a
repetition of content with the relatively large number of other
underworld documentaries, the only difference being much unique
material for the most part, explained from the series being
created, broadcast and intended for BET cable TV.

Each episode is 40 minutes, well edited with a decent audio
accompaniment. The historical narrative is sufficient, and the story
is backed up by direct face to face witnesses about events from days
gone by. Unlike some other series, there are no academicians or
historians, replaced instead with the versions of law enforcement
officers of the time and major public figures.

In the episode concerning South Central LA, the 1970's and 1980's
and Rick "Freeway" Ross, the entire controversy of CIA involvement
in the narcotics for cash for the Nicaragua Contra's is gone over
one more time. The CIA's asset and connection in the USA, Danilo
Blandone, orchestrated the import of cocaine from Colombia's
Medellin cartel, at disguised or CIA paid aerodromes, about the
length and size of a soccer field around many locations in South
USA. For the uninformed, Congress had cut off funding for USA
supported rebels attempting to overthrow the Nicaraguan Marxist
government, and so it is said, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North,
POTUS Ronald Reagan, VP GHW Bush, William J. Casey, Admiral John
Poindexter and others were said in the papers to either have
knowledge or went along with the operations at the time.

The footage of the series works well in accompanying the narrative,
albeit extremely selective in avoiding any offensive or
controversial content.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fair and balanced look at gangsters June 27, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
OK, I know the title sounds like a total paradox. After all, gangsters are murderous thugs who ruin lives and destroy communities. However, "American Gangster" does a great job at looking at all aspects of these people, as well as raising questions about the circumstances of their take-downs. The Freeway Ricky Ross is probably the best episode, as it demonstrates how the CIA allowed the Central and South American cartels to distribute crack into the inner city (in other words, the conspiracy theories are largely true about crack). I looked up a lot of the stuff that was in that episode, and apparently American Gangster did its homework because virtually everything stated in this episode was backed up by internal CIA memos and the late Gary Webb's excellent expose. However, all the episodes are excellent, and the show brings to light gangsters I never knew existed (the Chambers Brothers, et al). Ving Rhames may not be Morgan Freeman, but he is an excellent narrator and really sets the tone. Overall, BET did an excellent job telling the story of these gangsters without either over-villianizing them or overly-glorifying them (never thought I'd ever say something positive about BET).
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TWO THUMBS UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!! October 25, 2007
american gangster gives you the insight of real american gangsters i highly recommend to anyone who likes gangster movies..
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Gangster is GANGSTA! January 12, 2008
By M. Hunt
I can't wait for the next season to be available. This series features interesting and poignant, yet tragic stories of the great rise and fall of African American gangsters. These cautionary tales are entertaining, educational, funny, shocking, and sad all at the same time. American Gangster is a great new perspective on the bastardized American Dream that so many African American males fall prey to. Check it out, you won't be disappointed...and as Fat Albert used to say, you might learn something along the way! 5 stars!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars incredible and detail November 3, 2007
without a doubt this is the most important Program of Original concept and material that BET has put on there network in a long time where i gotta watch every episode every wednesday. so many compelling figures that are featured. all of the stories and Men that have been Profiled have a interesting story. there is a balance on each story told.

Ving Rhames is the modern day James Earl Jones/Morgan Freeman on the Narrative side. very detailed and compelling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars American Gangster: First and Second Seasons January 5, 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
These are the best and most comprehensive chronicles of the lives of "gangsters". They were tastefully and objectively done giving perspectives from virtually all sides. For those of us who have not lived anything remotely close to their lifestyle, it gives us the opportunity to peak into their everyday activities. You can then be everything from marveled to disheartened. Job well done. I can't wait for the complete third season to become available for sale.
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5.0 out of 5 stars american gangster August 13, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed it a lot just love biographies of real peoples lives really helps out and its also very interesting to see what happened back in the day
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5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and intriguing August 9, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Love this show when it came on BET but never got to see all the episodes and now having the collection brings me much joy (as morbid as that kind of sounds considering the subject matter of the show)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good watch really hate that the show didn't go further
Published 1 day ago by Tesha M. Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think
To some this is just a movie, to me this was real because my family and I lived where this was taking place, I was blessed to be able to move my family.
Published 17 months ago by Deborah Graham
5.0 out of 5 stars need to be watched
it showed blacks relationship with america, plane and simple! watch it and see how you would rate it. i dare you
Published 18 months ago by JOSHUA JUDAH
4.0 out of 5 stars good
This is an informative show with good narration. The interviews are very relevant, as many involved are ex gang members.
Published 20 months ago by mijesor
5.0 out of 5 stars American gangster
my husband loved it he has season 2 and he really liked the first season as well
Published on March 14, 2009 by K. Shipp
5.0 out of 5 stars American Gangster - The Complete First Season
Great educational peace of work, I find this to be interesting as well as entertaining
Published on September 8, 2008 by Tabari Nakenge
5.0 out of 5 stars What an Eye Opener!
Not only do you get a real look into the lives of mostly high profile drug dealers and those people and large communities (often metropolitan cities) affected by the drug dealers'... Read more
Published on August 30, 2008 by AS84
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and Depressing.
I heard a lot of buzz about this series so I gave these episodes a gander after they came out on DVD. I was not previously familiar with BET or its slant on the issues of the day. Read more
Published on January 29, 2008 by Bernard Chapin
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