Ken Burns: Prohibition 1 Season 2011

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Available in HDAvailable on Prime
Season 1
Available on Prime
(265) IMDb 8.2/10

2. Episode 2 - A Nation of Scofflaws TV-PG CC

In 1920, Prohibition goes into effect, making it illegal to manufacture, transport or sell intoxicating liquor. As weaknesses in the law and its enforcement become clear, millions find ways to exploit it. Alcoholism still exists, and may even be increasing, as women begin to drink in the speakeasies that replace the male-only saloon. Despite the growing discontent with Prohibition, few politicians dare to speak out against the law, fearful of its powerful protector, the Anti-Saloon League.

Starring:
Peter Coyote, Pete Hamill
Runtime:
1 hour, 51 minutes
Original air date:
October 3, 2011

Available to watch on supported devices.

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Starring Peter Coyote, Pete Hamill
Supporting actors Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Michael Lerner, Daniel Okrent, Noah Feldman, Jack Roche, William Leuchtenburg, Patricia Clarkson, John Lithgow, Campbell Scott, Sam Waterston, John Paul Stevens, Jonathan Eig, Margot Loines Wilkie, Martin Marty, Jack Clarke, Ruth Proskauer Smith, Edwin T. Hunt Jr., Joshua Zeitz
Season year 2011
Network PBS
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

Great pictures and video.
Julie Stull
An interesting personality with an iron will and information that allows her perspective as well as her personal reasons.
Honey Solomon
Another great documentary from Ken Burns.
Chris C.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Abigail on November 2, 2011
Because my dad grew up in urban America during the era of Prohibition, I was intrigued by the title of the film. What I learned came through the rich tapestry of film, photos, music, and recordings of the "flapper and speakeasy era" put together so intelligently by "Burns and company." The film shows that Prohibition impacted an entire generation to the core, kids, women, and men, with its long-term erosion of our national "soul" and spirit--with its hypocrisy--imprinting young and old, rich and poor, male and female. (I found myself wondering if perhaps my dad's favorite line, "Do as I say, not as I do," was a teaching not just of Leviticus but of so many years living in the world of duality that was Prohibition.) Not just a story of the temperance fanatics and gin mills, a great story in itself, this is also a story of how women shaped the political landscape of the U. S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Also, Burns tells a story of the misguided efforts to control alcoholism, a family disease that harms individuals and society at large. Also, I couldn't help but compare the Volstead Act for Prohibition, which led to the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, to other overarching political acts of history, where the "cure" became worse than the "problem." I learned specifics for how effective political change happens, as a function of public experience and perceptions, shaped by articulate leaders who have persistence and the ability to attract followers and build concensus. The humor of NYC's Mayor Laguardia even played a role, in helping Americans of that day to laugh at themselves.Read more ›
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What should a PBS viewer pour himself to enhance his enjoyment of Prohibition? In posing the question, I don't mean to suggest that this documentary, directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, needs any help to go down easy. But it seems correct to celebrate the freedom to get one's buzz on. The freedom is, of course, vastly more important than the buzz itself, as Prohibition notes in its closing words. Here, the writer Pete Hamill, one talking head among a distinguished roster, says that he has hasn't had a drink in three decades. But, hypothetically, he'd be proud to touch the stuff again in a public protest against any legislative attempt to deny his fellow citizens that right.

So what to pour? Whiskey--the excessive consumption of which, in the 1800s, provided an early impetus for temperance organization--is a fine choice. You could also mix up a cocktail called the scofflaw. In a nifty aside, the documentary mentions that the word was coined to denote the very common criminals who kept boozing after the Last Night. Watery domestic beer would also work; passage of the 18th Amendment became possible partly because of the World War I-era vilification of German-Americans, some of whom had names like Pabst and Schlitz and Anheuser and Busch. Want to concoct something in your bathtub? Terrific. The notes of Soft Scrub in the bouquet will impart historically accurate odors.

Over three nights and five and half hours, Prohibition provides a very fine analytic survey of the noble experiment, and most criticisms of it are quibbles. However, if you are the type of viewer who, after The Civil War and Baseball, gets ticked off by certain Burnsian tics of style, then consider yourself warned.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Steve on October 28, 2011
This is an excellent documentary, but beyond that, there are lessons to be learned about our current economic/social situation. Watching this series, one can draw many parallels to what is going on today. It's a shame we fail to learn from the past. One can only hope that someday these lessons sink in.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael Rodriguez on October 26, 2011
I think an important lesson that comes out of the Prohibition series is the creation of the Income Tax to replace the taxes from alcohol that were now done away with through Prohibition.

Of course after Prohibition they did not get rid of income tax. Eh Vee! Politicians!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Kelley on May 8, 2012
Verified Purchase
In Episode 1 alone of "Prohibition" I've learned more about the 16th (income tax), 18th (prohibition), and 19th (women's suffrage) amendments than I ever did in 13 years of lower education. Fantastically interesting story of the history of the United States at the turn of the century, religion, immigration, women's rights, domestic violence, politics, and, of course, alcohol!

There's always more to a story than just a couple details. The concept of prohibition always seemed stupid to me. Episode 1 thoroughly explained the reasoning and rationale behind the temperance movement, something sorely lacking in my previous exposure to its history (other than "alcohol is bad, mmmkay?") Likewise, it also explores the culture of the time, why alcohol was important, and what people valued it.

One thing I watch for in documentaries is political bias. While I'm certain this, like all others, has some bias, I felt it did a good job at showing all sides, from the brewers to the religious institutions, and from the immigrants to the politicians, there was a good picture of the climate of the time.

Finally, and purely aesthetics, I appreciated all of the period photography and video footage that was included.

"Would buy again!"
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