Prohibition - Episode 3.

Kanopy (Firm)

Streaming video - 2015

Prohibition - Episode 3: A Nation of Hypocrites In the mid 1920s, an unprecedented winning streak continues on Wall Street, and it feels to many like the good times will go on forever. Americans during the Jazz Age, writes F. Scott Fitzgerald, are "a whole race gone hedonistic, deciding on pleasure." Prohibition, with its moralistic underpinnings, begins to feel anachronistic at best. In Episode 3, A Nation of Hypocrites, support for the law diminishes as the playfulness of sneaking ar...ound for a drink gives way to disenchantment with its glaring unintended consequences. By criminalizing one of the nation's largest industries, the law has given savvy gangsters a way to make huge profits, and as they grew in power, rival outfits wreak havoc in cities across the country. The burgeoning tabloid newspaper industry fans the frenzy with sensational headlines and front-page photographs of murder scenes, while Al Capone holds press conferences and signs autographs. The cold-blooded St. Valentine's Day Massacre horrifies the nation. The situation becomes so dire in Chicago that a senator requests help from the U.S. Marines to control the city's murderous streets. In media and popular culture the law is mocked and ignored. Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley glamorize drinking and promiscuity, and starlets like Joan Crawford, seen onscreen dancing drunk on a bar, become sex symbols. Illegal alcohol—with its hint of illicit sex—becomes a sign of sophistication, something to be sought after, not shunned. Mothers who had labored for woman's suffrage are appalled at the wanton behavior of their daughters, who bob their hair, smoke cigarettes, and call themselves flappers. In 1928, Democrat Al Smith runs for president, openly criticizing Prohibition. He is vilified for his Catholicism and his wet sympathies, and made into a symbol of all that is wrong with the cities and their large populations of immigrants. Republican Herbert Hoover, credited with the booming economy, is re-elected by a landslide, and meekly calls for an inquiry into the wider problems of law enforcement. Though a longtime prominent Republican supporter, the wealthy Pauline Sabin resigns from the party in protest, publicly decrying that the law has divided the nation into "wets, drys, and hypocrites." Nearly a century before, women had hoped Prohibition would make the country a safer place for their children. But, by the late 1920s many American women now believe that the "Noble Experiment" has failed. Sabin unifies women of all classes, refuting the notion that all women support Prohibition, and denouncing the law itself as the greatest threat to their families. When the Great Depression sets in, Americans begin to reexamine their priorities. More begin asking how they can justify spending money on the enforcement of an unpopular law while millions are without work, food, or shelter. Sabin and others argue that Repeal will bring in tax revenue and provide desperately needed jobs. After the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, Congress easily passes the 21st Amendment, which repeals the 18th, and the states quickly ratify it. In December of 1933, Americans can legally buy a drink for the first time in thirteen years.

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Documentary films
Online Access
A Kanopy streaming video
Cover Image
[San Francisco, California, USA] : Kanopy Streaming 2015.
Item Description
Title from title frames.
Physical Description
1 online resource (1 video file, approximately 105 minutes) : digital, .flv file, sound
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Corporate Author
Kanopy (Firm) (-)
Other Authors
Ken Burns (film director), Lynn Novick