The True History of the Mafia

Review by Chastity Campbell

Directors: Various
Video: 1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Studio: A&E
Features: See Review
Length: 300 Minutes
Release Date: January 27, 2004

“They don't call me Lucky for nothing!”

Film ***

Throughout history there have been many people and events that have influenced the development and progress of the United States.  During the early twentieth century a window of opportunity was seized, and expanded upon by a group of Italians with one thing on their mind:  power!

A&E presents for your historical viewing pleasure this two disc box set, The True History Of The Mafia: Godfathers Collection.  Within these two discs, you will ride the wave of mob activity in the U.S. from its beginnings in New York during the early part of the twentieth century, to the crackdown on drugs and crime in the early 80s. 

Disc I contains a biographical and historical investigation into the heart and sole of the Italian Mob.  Never before seen video footage brings forth grizzly images that show the resolve of these individuals when their territory was challenged.  Their love of power, money, and recognition led to an unbelievable amount of death and destruction over an eighty year period.  All of which was captured by the media in one form or another, and is now presented for you on DVD. 

Disc II takes four of the most well known gangsters, and goes in depth to bring you their story on a semi-personal level.    Lucky Luciano: Chairman Of The Mob, Meyer Lansky: Mob Tycoon, Genovese: Portrait of a Crime Family, and Bugsy Siegel: Gambling On The Mob, presents four separate stories woven together by the lives these men chose to lead. 

The images presented in these two discs are completely amazing.  The early 1900's photographs and video footage are of better quality than most I have seen from that time period.   The interviews with former New York City Mayor Rudolph Guliani and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, paint a very interesting picture of these Godfathers. 

This box set contains an extremely large amount of information, presented in an easy to follow format that will make watching and understanding it a breeze. I highly recommend giving this A&E Box set a chance to enhance your video collection.

Video ***

The video quality of these DVDs must be forgiven a bit due to the historical video footage used within them.  The modern day interviews shot for these programs were very colorful and vivid with very few errors.  The stock footage of mob activities shot throughout the early part of the twentieth century was cleaner than I expected it to be.  The images are grainy, and there is quite a bit of dirt in the prints.  Filmmakers from the time period were not overly concerned with quality.  That is, I suppose, why I am so surprised at how well these films transferred to the digital realm. 

Audio ***

The Dolby Digital stereo mix on both of these DVDs was quit clean.  The levels remained constant throughout with a minimal amount of noise audible.  The mix between voiceover and music bed was well done without one over whelming the other.

Features ˝ *

Scene selection was the only feature this box set had to offer.


This two-disc box set is put together very well.  It may not have a lot of bells and whistles, but you are rewarded with awesome video footage, and great historical information which more than makes up for the lack of extra features.