The Amer­i­can Mob: Stayin’ Alive in the 70s

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Justin Burke

’ 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.

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