America’s Mafia: From Real Life to Big Screen And Back Again

analytical Essay
2446 words
2446 words

America’s obsessions with the mafia and mafia-style films have existed for decades. The ability for an audience to connect on a deep level with a character of shady morals and seedy behavior is a requirement for gangster films to be successful. Hollywood has been able to successfully take real life mobsters and make them larger than life on the big screen. Though not all mafia films created are taken directly from real life, most movies have some essence of reality buried within the plot. To understand this obsession with the mafia, it is necessary to understand the beginning of the Mafia’s presence in America. The Great Depression and Prohibition helped usher in a new kind of violent criminal: The Mobster. Mostly of Italian American descent, mobsters in the 1920’s and 30’s, controlled a great portion of the organized crime in areas such as New York and Chicago. The paradox of prohibition is that instead of creating a clean cut and law abiding society by banning alcohol it helped to foster one of the most crime filled era’s in America’s history. Prohibition helped to establish the crime bosses of legend. Detroit was interestingly the first city to ban the sale of alchohol in public. By the year 1918, the city was dry as a bone. The next year, 1919, the prohibition law would go into effect. This gave the city an entire year to build an underground network to transfer hooch from other cities to Detroit. This underground network created a virtual river of booze. The prohibition era also created a cross country network of crime bosses that for the first time in the history of organized crime worked together for a single cause: Buy, trade and sell alcohol. Al Capone’s business in Chicago was dependent on supplies com... ... middle of paper ... ...of life and death: women and the Mafia. (London: Verso, 1996.) 52. PILEGGI, NICHOLAS. "The New York Times: Best Pictures."The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. N.p., 15 Aug. 1971. Web. 18 Mar. 2011. . Theoharis, Athan G., Tony G. Poveda, Susan Rosenfeld, and Richard Gid Powers. The FBI: a comprehensive reference guide. (Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1999) 68. Puzo, Mario. The Godfather. (New York: Putnam, 1969) Joseph Bruce Gorman, Kefauver: A Political Biography (New York: Oxford UP, 1971) 77. Qtd. in Gus Tyler, Organized Crime in America: A Book of Readings (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1962) 344. "National Criminal Justice Reference Service." National Criminal Justice Reference Service. (accessed March 25, 2011).

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that america's obsessions with the mafia have existed for decades. hollywood has successfully taken real life mobsters and made them larger than life on the big screen.
  • Explains that the great depression and prohibition helped usher in a new kind of violent criminal: the mobster.
  • Analyzes how mario puzo's novel, the godfather, opened a new generation to an authentic and compassionate view of italian-american organized crime.
  • Analyzes how the sopranos, created by david chase, presented gangsters in a different light than had been previously seen.
  • Analyzes how the sopranos portrays an italian-american family involved in the mob yet maintaining a family life and responsibilities. in 2004, an article was posted on msnbc in response to the movie shark tales.
  • Opines that the portrayal of italian american women is less than desirable and did cause controversy. in public enemy (1931), the most remembered scene was filmed with james cagney smashing a grapefruit in the face of mae clark.
  • Opines that women should not be touched by another man within the mafia family. the godfather portrays carmen as a weak, nibble fool who is abused by her husband physically and emotionally.
  • Opines that women have played key roles in the mafia. carmine galante was chauffeured by his daughter nina, jennifer graziano was arrested for drug dealing while a graduate student at new york university, and bonnie parker of "bonnie and clyde" fell victim to the life of organized crime.
  • Explains theoharis, athan g., poveda, rosenfeld, and powers. the fbi: a comprehensive reference guide.
  • Explains how a senate committee was set up to investigate organized crime in america in 1950, despite his fear that it had to justify its existence by doing something sensational. the valachi papers and mario puzo's novel established the mafia in mainstream pop culture
  • Analyzes how hollywood's portrayal of a real-life mobster, including al capone, and john gotti, has changed over the years.
  • Cites the website of the society for the study of multi-ethnic literature of united states (melus).
  • Cites gus tyler's book, organized crime in america: a book of readings, and the national criminal justice reference service.
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