Coming Soon!
American Gangsters on Film
by Frankie Y. Bailey
January 2024, 248pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6717-0
$70, £54, 61€, A96
Available for purchase 30 days prior to publication.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6718-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Was Goodfellas (1990) really based on a true story?

Written for both crime history buffs and movie fans, American Gangsters on Film provides an in-depth look at real life gangsters, the Hollywood movies, and the mythology of gang life and organized crime.

American Gangsters on Film covers 10 of the most important films that depict organized crime on the silver screen. Following an introduction, each of 9 chapters focuses on an individual movie, like Bonnie and Clyde, Scarface, and The Departed. A 10th chapter analyzes the critically acclaimed television show The Sopranos. Presented in chronological order, the films and television show are discussed in historical context, making it easier for readers to understand both the choices made by filmmakers and reception of the films and the TV show.

Additionally, this volume provides an overview of crime and justice in American history and culture. To that end, each film is discussed in the context of real-life events. Ideal for students, the book also examines the role of the films in the social construction of images of organized crime and gangsters and the role of the movies in shaping popular perceptions.


  • Provides a window into organized crime in America by assessing how films about them portrayed people, events, and issues of the era
  • Shows how movies can teach us about a given era's history and make that history more engaging through the dramatic arts process and storytelling
  • Provides a new perspective on American gangster life, a perspective that comes through the lens of the movie camera
  • Suggests areas of further exploration for students of popular culture
Frankie Y. Bailey is professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany (SUNY). Her academic research focuses on crime history, crime and mass media/popular culture, and material culture. She examines topics related to images of victims, offenders, and criminal justice agents in American culture. Bailey has received a George N. Dove award for research on crime fiction. As a mystery writer, she has served on the boards of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Her current projects include a book about dress and appearance in American crime and justice and a historical thriller.

Hollywood History

Just exactly how accurate are Hollywood's film and television portrayals of U.S. history? What do these portrayals tell us, not only about the events they depict, but also the time in which they were made? Each volume in this unique reference series is devoted to a single topic or key theme in U.S. history, examining approximately 10 major motion pictures or television productions. Substantial essays summarize each film, provide a historical background of the event or period it depicts, and explain how accurate the film’s depiction is, while also analyzing the cultural context in which the film was made.
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