October 11, 2015


Narrated by Ray Liotta. Starring Rich Graff, Ian Bell, Anthony, DiCarlo, Jonathan C. Stewart, Craig Thomas Rivela. Featuring Interviews with Rich Cohen, Rudy Giuliani, Selwyn Rabb, Joe Mantegna, Chazz Palminteri, Frank Vincent, Frankie Valli. Directed by John Ealer. (2015, 343 min).

This ambitious eight episode mini-series from AMC chronicles the birth of the American mafia, focusing primarily on Lucky Luciano's rise from a lowly hood to the most powerful mob boss in New York City. With the help of some lifelong friends - including Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegal and Frank Costello - Luciano is largely responsible for the "organized" in organized crime.

The Making of the Mob: New York is presented as a docudrama. Ray Liotta narrates dramatic reenactments with a timeline roughly ranging from the turn of the century until the mid-1960s, interspersed with commentary by a variety of authors, ex-mafia associates, celebrities and family members of those featured in the story. Since all episodes essentially present a single epic tale, its serialized format makes this two-disc set supremely binge-worthy.

Despite a lack of personal insight into any of these characters, the story itself is simply too interesting to screw up. Sure, it’s been told before, and if you're already really into mob history, much of it might be pretty familiar. Even so, the reenactments are well rendered, with a lot of attention to period detail and decent performances. The show is also highly recommended to fans of The Godfather, who will be fascinated at the extent that film drew inspiration from real life, right down to some of the characters.

Not so lucky this time, Luciano is stuck with the tip.

Less interesting are the frequent interviews with various individuals supposedly associated with these events. Authors who’ve written books on the subject provide some unique insight and details, as do former mafia associates. But I do question the purpose of featuring various celebrities whose only tangible connection to the mob has been performing in gangster movies. As far as the players involved...we don’t learn a hell of a lot about them personally. The performances are decent, but none of the actors are given a hell of a lot to do besides react and remain silent while Liotta describes what‘s going on.

Still, The Making of the Mob: New York provides a solid account of the rise of organized crime in America, New York in particular. It’s an intriguing - if somewhat familiar - look at the lifestyle, violence and betrayal we normally associate with this profession.

On a personal side-note...man these guys smoke a lot! You'd be hard-pressed to find a single scene where someone isn't puffing away on a cigarette or stogie. Perhaps the show is partially funded by Phillip-Morris.


  • Additional Scenes
  • Several Featurettes: "The Real Arnold Rothstein"; "The Secret Life of a Mob Wife"; "The Mob & Mussolini"; "Style"; "Mob Innovations"; "The Mob Shrink" (more of these are a few minutes long and feature scenes from the series, as well as additional commentary by some of the interviewees).


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