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THEMATIC: Popular Culture:

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The Great Depression  |   Immigrant Experience  |   Spiritualism  |   Sports

Demon Rum (no website available)
Prohibition's effect on Detroit, Michigan, the first major city to "go dry."
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Prohibition's effect on Detroit, Michigan, the first major American city to "go dry," where smuggling liquor across the Canadian border became the second largest indusry in town. A humorous, wild tale related by residents who lived through this national experiment which lasted from 1920 to 1933.
Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman
The story of a brilliant Russian immigrant, a radical who became "the most dangerous woman in America."
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On a cold December morning in 1919, just after midnight, Emma Goldman, her comrade Alexander Berkman, and more than 200 other foreign-born radicals were roused from their Ellis Island dormitory beds to begin their journey out of the United States for good. Convicted of obstructing the draft during World War I, Goldman was deported 34 years after she had first set foot in America, a young, brilliant Russian immigrant. For more than three decades, she taunted mainstream America with her outspoken attacks on government, big business and war. Goldman's passionate espousal of radical causes made her the target of persecution. Her sympathy for Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of President McKinley, brought down upon her the hatred of the authorities and the public at large. Feared as a sponsor of anarchy and revolution, she was vilified in the press as "Red Emma," "Queen of the Anarchists," and "the most dangerous woman in America."

G-Men -- The Rise of J. Edgar Hoover (no website available)
Of all the alphabet agencies of the New Deal, none captured the public's imagination like J. Edgar Hoover's FBI.
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Of all the alphabet agencies of the New Deal, none captured the public's imagination like J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. During the years 1930-39, the crime problem was frightening and real, however exaggerated by the FBI. Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Pretty Boy Floyd and Bonnie and Clyde were public enemies; G-men the public heroes.
Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst

Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst
The bizarre saga of the Symbionese Liberation Army, Patty Hearst's kidnapping, Hearst's conversion to her captors' cause, and the bank robberies and shootouts that followed.
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In 1974, a militant, fringe, political group kidnapped teenage newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst from her Berkeley apartment. In the months that followed. Hearst, the Symbionese Liberation Army (S.L.A.) and their constant, paramilitary audio messages dominated the headlines globally, creating a media frenzy.

Using a treasure trove of archival footage and audio material, this American Experience film follows the bizarre saga from the establishment of the S.L.A. through the kidnapping, Hearst's conversion to her captors' cause, and the bank robberies and shootouts that followed. First-ever interviews with two surviving members of the S.L.A. provide insight into the politically-charged times and the reasons why the group embraced revolutionary rhetoric and a terrorist agenda. As the spectacle unfolds, and journalists camped outside the Hearst home become consumed by the story, the film introduces questions about the role of the media and the ethics of broadcast journalism.

Insanity on Trial (no website available)
The trial of Charles Julius Guiteau, the man who shot and fatally wounded President James A. Garfield.
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On July 2, 1881, Charles Julius Guiteau shot and fatally wounded President James A. Garfield in the lobby of the Baltimore & Potomac train station in Washington, D.C. As sensational as the assassination itself was, Guiteau's trial lasted over three months and became a very public battle over the meaning of insanity. Was it hereditary? Did it show on a man's face?
Jesse James

Jesse James
Meet the Confederate partisan of expansive ambition, unbending politics and surprising cunning who helped invent his own legend.
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The story of Jesse James remains one of America's most cherished myths... and one of its most wrong-headed. Less heroic than brutal, James was a product of the American Civil War. A Confederate partisan of expansive ambition, unbending politics and surprising cunning, he helped invent his own legend.
Jonestown

Jonestown
This film is a revealing portrait of Jones, his followers, and the times that produced the calamity in the Guyanese jungle, told by the people who know the story firsthand: Jonestown survivors, Temple defectors, relatives of the dead, and journalists.
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On November 17, 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan traveled to an isolated rain forest in Guyana to investigate the concerns of his San Francisco-area constituents. Their alarming stories focused on a jungle compound known as Jonestown, a group called the Peoples Temple, and its leader, Jim Jones. According to news filtering back to America, U.S. citizens were being held against their will in prison camp conditions. There were allegations of physical and sexual abuse and even rumors of a planned mass suicide. Congressman Ryan, an impassioned human rights advocate, decided to get the facts for himself. Within forty-eight hours, Ryan, Jones, and over 900 Jonestown settlers were dead - casualties of the largest mass murder-suicide in history. In the next few days, grizzly details of cyanide-laced fruit punch and disturbing images of children poisoned by their parents emerged from the jungle. American Experience goes beyond the salacious headlines to provide a revealing portrait of Jones, his followers, and the times that produced the calamity in the Guyanese jungle, told by the people who know the story firsthand: Jonestown survivors, Temple defectors, relatives of the dead, and journalists.
Monkey Trial

Monkey Trial
An all-out duel between science and religion.
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In 1925, a Tennessee, biology teacher named John Scopes was arrested for teaching evolution in defiance of state law. His trial became an epic event of the 20th century, a debate over free speech that spiraled into an all-out duel between science and religion. Featuring two of the 20th century's greatest orators, Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan, the Scopes trial was America's first major media event, with hundreds of reporters and live nationwide radio coverage dispersing the sensational news. Outside the courthouse, a circus atmosphere prevailed as a chimpanzee in a suit and hat vied with fire-and-brimstone preachers for the crowd's attention.Monkey Trial explores the dramatic moment when a new fault line opened in society as scientific discoveries began to challenge the literal truth of the Bible. Often humorous and at times frightening, the story of two value systems colliding resonates today.
Murder at Harvard

Murder at Harvard
A brutal murder, a sensational trial -- and a lingering mystery.
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In November 1849, Dr. George Parkman, one of Boston's richest citizens, disappeared. The police searched the city and dredged the river. Parkman had last been seen walking towards the Harvard Medical College. A janitor there, Ephraim Littlefield, had a suspicion where Parkman might be found, and what he discovered horrified Boston and led to one of the most sensational trials in American history.Historian Simon Schama plays a key role in the film as a "time-traveling" detective trying to uncover the truth behind the case. He probes the lingering mysteries of this notorious trial and the larger philosophical question of how we can ever know what happened in the past.
Murder of the Century

Murder of the Century
Two notorious men loved Evelyn Nesbit -- one survived.
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In 1906, the murder of Stanford White, New York architect and man-about-town, by Harry K. Thaw, heir to a Pittsburgh railroad fortune, was reported "to the ends of the civilized globe;" much of the focus however was on Evelyn Nesbit, the beautiful showgirl in the center of the love triangle. A sensational murder story that had everything: money, power, class, love, rage, lust and revenge.
Oswald's Ghost

Oswald's Ghost
A fresh look at President John F. Kennedys assassination, the publics reaction, and the government investigations that instead of calming fears lead to a widespread loss of trust in government institutions.
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The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963 left a psychic wound on America that is with us still today. Few Americans then or now accept that a lone, inconsequential gunman could bring down a president and alter history. In that breach, a culture of conspiracy has arisen that points to sinister forces at work in the shadows. Drawing upon rarely seen archival footage and interviews with key participants, Oswald's Ghost takes a fresh look at Kennedy's assassination, the public's reaction to the tragedy, and the government investigations that instead of calming fears lead to a widespread loss of trust in the institutions that govern our society.
Public Enemy #1

Public Enemy #1
The legendary outlaw John Dillinger.
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From 1933 to 1934, America was thrilled and terrorized by John Dillinger, a desperado, a bank robber, a bad man no jail could hold. His reputation grew until he was named the country's first Public Enemy #1 and hunted by virtually every cop in America.Operating during a time of great hardship, Dillinger became a mythic figure who struggled against authority and garnered the support of many ordinary Americans, particularly those hardest hit by the Great Depression. Dillinger finally met his match in J. Edgar Hoover, who used the outlaw's celebrity to burnish his own reputation and that of his national law enforcement agency, the FBI. Hoover won the day making sure in the process that the moral of Dillinger's tale was "crime doesn't pay."
The Massie Affair

The Massie Affair
Was murder justified to defend his wife's honor?
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In the early years of the 20th century, at a time when the U.S. Navy dominated Hawaii, Americans thought of the islands as their Paradise in the Pacific. But in September 1931, an explosive incident shook the semblance of tranquility and exposed the racial tensions roiling beneath the surface. Thalia Fortescue Massie, the troubled young wife of a navy lieutenant, claimed that a group of Hawaiians had raped her on the Ala Moana, a lonely beach road leading from Waikiki to Honolulu.

Five young men were arrested -- two Hawaiians, two Japanese, and one Chinese. Despite evidence that the defendants couldn't have committed the crime, a mixed race jury deadlocked and the suspects were released on bail. Hawaiians were outraged, believing the rape charges a sham. White sailors imposed their own "justice" on one of the rape defendants, beating him badly.

Into this explosive atmosphere, Massie's strong-willed mother, Grace Hubbard Fortescue, made a dramatic entrance. When one of the rape defendants was found dead on the back seat of Fortescue's car, news of the "honor slaying" unleashed a torrent of racist invective from the mainland in support of Fortescue. Though she was eventually tried and convicted of manslaughter, her sentence was commuted to an hour. As this American Experience film shows, the Massie affair inflicted a wound on the psyche of the Hawaiian people that has yet to heal.

The Murder of Emmett Till

The Murder of Emmett Till
Chicago teen Emmett Till's brutal murder in 1955 mobilized the civil rights movement.
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In August 1955, a fourteen-year-old black boy whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn't understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head.Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterwards, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till's death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.
The Nuremberg Trials

The Nuremberg Trials
The story of the dramatic post-World War II tribunal that brought Nazi leaders to justice and defines trial procedure for state criminals to this day.
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In November 1945, surviving representatives of the Nazi elite stood before an international military tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany. The 22 men were charged with the systematic murder of millions during World War II. U.S. chief prosecutor Robert Jackson hoped to show that crimes against humanity would never again go unpunished.
The Quiz Show Scandal

The Quiz Show Scandal
A look at the formative years of television and the scandal's impact on the TV business and a naive America.
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When CBS premiered The $64,000 Question in 1955, the show was more than a hit; it was a national phenomenon. More quiz shows followed. What the audience was to learn, much later, was that many of these shows were fixed. Slowly, painfully, the deceit unravelled. A look at the formative years of television and the scandal's impact on the TV business and a naive America.
Zoot Suit Riots

Zoot Suit Riots
In August 1942 the murder of a young Mexican American man ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles, ultimately sparking brutal race riots.
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In August 1942, the murder of a young Mexican-American ignited a firestorm in Los Angeles. The tensions that had been building up for years between Mexican and white Los Angelenos boiled over. The press claimed Mexican youth -- known as "zoot-suiters" for the clothes they wore -- were terrorizing the city with a wave of crime. Police fanned out across the city arresting 600 Mexican Americans. Seventeen "zoot-suiters" headed to a trial in which prosecutors had little evidence to present. Nonetheless, guilty verdicts were handed down to all. The tensions the trial inflamed sparked riots between servicemen and the Mexican American community that led to "zoot-suiters" being beaten and stripped of their clothes. Despite vigorous denials from city officials, a citizen's committee concluded the riots had been fired by racial prejudice and encouraged both by sensational news reporting and a discriminatory police department.
THEMATIC: Popular Culture:

Arts and Entertainment  |   Crime and Punishment  |  
The Great Depression  |   Immigrant Experience  |   Spiritualism  |   Sports

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