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Sacco and Vanzetti

26 customer reviews

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(Aug 21, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On the 80th anniversary of their execution, the new documentary SACCO AND VANZETTI brings to life the story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrant anarchists accused of a muder in 1920, and executed in Boston in 1927 after a notoriously prejudiced trial. It is the first major documentary film about this landmark story.

The ordeal of Sacco and Vanzetti came to symbolize the bigotry and intolerance directed at immigrants and dissenters in America. Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world protested on their behalf, and today, the story continues to have great resonance, as civil liberties and the rights of immigrants are again under attack.

Actors John Turturro and Tony Shalhoub read the powerful prison writings of Sacco and Vanzetti, and a chorus of passionate commentators also propel the narrative, including Howard Zinn, Arlo Guthrie, Studs Terkel, as well as several people with personal connections to the story.

The Sacco and Vanzetti story has attracted some extraordinary artists over the years, including Ben Shahn, Woody Guthrie, Dorothy Parker, Upton Sinclair, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Joan Baez, and Diego Rivera, among others. Artwork, music, poetry, and feature film clips about the case are interwoven with the narrative.


It's cleansing to see the facts laid out with intimacy and rigor. Grade A! --entertainment weekly

A timely reminder of how things can go when politics obscure reasonable minds.

Superb! A concise yet passionate history lesson whose relevance could not be timelier. --Variety

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Tony Shalhoub, Studs Terkel, Arlo Guthrie, Giuliano Montaldo, John Turturro
  • Directors: Peter Miller
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • DVD Release Date: August 21, 2007
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000QJLQE4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,703 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By D. Mann on July 23, 2007
Format: DVD
I had the good fortune to see this film when it was shown in New York this past Spring. I brought my 14 year old daughter with me, albeit with some misgivings as I was concerned that she would be bored with a "history lesson"... my fears were unfounded. My daughter was mezmerized by this film, and spent the last 20 minutes literally on the edge of her seat. Afterwards she asked, "Why don't they show things like this in school?"

Whatever your political leanings or views on illegal immigration may be this movie is a fascinating study of what happened to these two men. I suggest that you take the time to view and make up your own mind as to whether these men were guilty, or merely convenient scapegoats.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By drama lover on September 10, 2007
Format: DVD
Although a drama lover, I do enjoy a good documentary--and this is a good one. Most of us, I suspect, have heard the names Sacco and Vanzetti, but I bet that most don't recall the details of the case. This film is a concise, 82-minute documentary that covers the background of the two men, the crime that took place, the evidence (or lack thereof) which convicted them, and the public outcry over the trial and execution. It's nicely done, using both still photos and some clips from an earlier (and currently unavailable) film, as well as interviews with people close to the case. It's well-paced; it tells the story, but doesn't drag. Many of the stills are quite lovely and I really enjoyed the soundtrack. A fine example of documentary filmmaking--and a history lesson with relevance today.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "Rocky Raccoon" VINE VOICE on September 22, 2007
Format: DVD
Ever since high school I have been immediately intrigued and drawn to the story of Sacco and Vanzetti. Edna St. Vincent Millay's pungent poem, "Justice Denied in Massachusetts" was a part of our American Literature textbook, and ever since we read that poem, I have yearned to learn more. Coming across bits and pieces over the years, my curiosity wasn't satisfied until this recent documentary. There are a lot of candidates for "Trial of the Century". The Lindburgh Trial was chief contender for a long while until O.J., but big things come in threes. "Sacco and Vanzetti" has to be up there. Using a plethora of interviewees and actual film of the defendants, including swelling crowds of protestors, Director Peter Miller and Editor Amy Carey Linton draw upon a wealth of material and angles of the trial.

Many historians are present and much of the trials' testimonies have been documented. Throw in some modern ballistics experts, letters by the defendants, and interviews with living relatives of key people, and you have a rich and condensed viewing experience. They even have artists testify to the powerful inspiration of Sacco and Vanzetti with repercussions in painting, literature, film, and movies. Some of the film has clips from Guiliano Montaldo's 1971 movie of the men as well as other performances, including a passionate invocation by Henry Fonda.

A smooth and detailed sense of history pervades the documentary. When narrating their upbringing in Italy, they bring footage of their childhood neighborhoods. Even Nicola Sacco's niece is interviewed in Italy with subtitles translated into English. Historians like David Kaiser do a skillful job of piecing together the steps that led to their arrest and subsequent executions.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By H. Millay VINE VOICE on August 24, 2007
Format: DVD
Although already familiar with the story of Sacco and Vanzetti, I was thoroughly shocked and enraged (and ultimately charmed) by this thoughtful film. It is a very straightforward historical documentary (nothing flashy here), but the music and poetry and artwork woven into it really brings the story to life. I would have liked to have seen more attention given to the story's relevance today (immigrants' rights again being a hot topic in this country), but nevertheless this is a solid and well-crafted treatment of one of the most notorious criminal trials in American history.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Johnson on September 9, 2007
Format: DVD
I have used some of the points mentioned here in previous reviews of books about the Sacco and Vanzetti case.

Those familiar with the radical movement know that at least once in every generation a political criminal case comes up that defines that era. One thinks of the Haymarket Martyrs in the 19th century, the Scottsboro Boys in the 1930's, the Rosenburgs in the post-World War II Cold War period and today Mumia Abu-Jamal. In America after World War I when the Attorney General Palmer-driven `red scare' brought the federal government's vendetta against foreigners, immigrants and militant labor fighters to a white heat that generation's case was probably the most famous of them all, Sacco and Vanzetti. The exposure of the tensions within American society that came to the surface as a result of that case is the subject of the film under review.

Using documentary footage, reenactment and `talking head' commentary by interested historians, including the well-known author of popular America histories Howard Zinn, the director Peter Miller and his associates bring this case alive for a new generation to examine. In the year 2007 one of the important lessons for leftists to be taken from the case is the question of the most effective way to defend such working class cases. I will address that question further below but here I wish to point out that the one major shortcoming of this film is a lack of discussion on that issue. I might add that this is no mere academic issue as the controversy over the strategic call for retrial or freedom in the current case of the death-row prisoner, militant journalist Mumia-Abu-Jamal, graphically illustrates. Notwithstanding that objection this documentary is a very satisfactory visual presentation of the case for those not familiar with it.
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