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American Gangster: Season 1

4.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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(Oct 23, 2007)
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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.

Amazon.com

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

Special Features

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

Product Details

  • Actors: Charles Pitchford, Fred Shaw Jr., Bonnie Williams, Antoine Clark, Barry Michael Cooper
  • 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: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000TGJ8EY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,052 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "American Gangster: Season 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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' actions, you also get an look at the corruption within the United States government, FBI, CIA, and other government divisions which is far too often kept under the radar by the mainstream media. It is very sad to know how corrupt the government is, how free speech within the United States media is just an illusion (you'll notice a reoccurring true life theme of how those journalists who exposed government corruption were always blackballed in their media careers and harassed by the government), AND have a close up into what some people would do to their own neighborhoods and families for money.

Not only do I highly recommend both the 1st and 2nd season DVDs but I would want every single American to view it. I WOULD REALLY URGE PARENTS TO VIEW THESE DVDs WITH THEIR CHILDREN (probably ages 13-17). These documentaries are that important!

In addition to being an excellent educational tool both DVDs are intense, thrilling, and easily kept the attention of myself and my friends. It is worth every penny of its price!
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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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
american gangster gives you the insight of real american gangsters i highly recommend to anyone who likes gangster movies..
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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