Friday, August 17, 2007

Sacco and Vanzetti DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Controversial Case Revisited by Documentary on DVD

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed in Boston, Massachusetts on August 23, 1927 for the robbery and murder of two men carrying a factory payroll of $15,776 dollars on a street in downtown South Braintree, MA. Although the prosecutor had convinced a jury to sentence the pair to death based on questionable circumstantial evidence, the nagging doubts about their guilt or innocence which had turned the case into something of a cause celebre have remained unresolved to this very day.
For not only was there already an air of prejudice against the defendants due to their being Italian immigrants, but they were also admitted anarchists and advocates of violent revolution by any means necessary. Still, there was precious little to connect Sacco and Vanzetti to the crimes for which they’d been charged, and the world was watching to see whether such unpopular characters would get a fair shake in court, given the Constitutionally-protected presumption of innocence till proven guilty.
The answer suggested by this damning documentary is that the defendants had been railroaded in a rush to judgment because of their Communists leanings. Relying on a combination of archival footage, the prison letters of the doomed dead men walking (as read by impersonators Tony Shahloub and John Turturro), the reflections of sympathetic lefties like Professor Howard Zinn, and the folksinging of Arlo Guthrie, the movie does a decent job of convincing any open-minded viewer that Sacco and Vanzetti were indeed framed.
Thus, the picture stands as an informative primer on the uniquely American denial that its criminal justice system’s has historically been stacked in favor of the rich, the white, and the well-connected.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Running time: 82 minutes
Studio: First Run Features

No comments: