The American Mob: Stayin’ Alive in the 70s
’ Friday, 7.30pm, NatGeo This documentary begins with an associate of New York’s Gambino family describing a trip to Miami in the 1970s. He was provided with written instructions and a Sheffield knife. He entered the designated house, pinned the male occupant to the pool table and sliced underneath his testicles while the man’s girlfriend was forced to watch. ‘‘ She screamed, he yelled, I went back to New York and never talked about it,’’ he says. ‘‘ I’m laughing, but I mean, I’m sure he didn’t die . . .’’ It seems audiences cannot get enough of organised crime, whether fictionalised ( Boardwalk Empire), pure fiction ( The Sopranos, still the gold standard for television) or nonfiction as in this case. This documentary features interviews with law enforcement, informants and mobsters, including Rudy Giuliani, former US attorney for the Southern District of New York; Joe Pistone, aka Donnie Brasco (pictured), an FBI agent who went undercover with the Bonanno family; and Michael Franzese, a soldier with the Colombo family. The 70s are presented as a watershed moment, with the earlier generation of Italian-born bosses giving way to American-born ones, notably Joe Colombo. Predictably, the only people we don’t hear from are the victims.