Considering the subject, it is highly appropriate that the review copy of "Momo: The Sam Giancana Story," which is being released on DVD on November 19 2013, arrived in the proverbial plain brown envelope and on an unmarked DVD. Not initially knowing what was on the disc prompted several jokes regarding the horror film "The Ring."
This comprehensive and fascinating documentary on one of America's most famous mobsters literally starts at his birth; further, these opening moments explain the significance of the title. The obvious care and regarding telling this story further explains why "Momo" won the award for Best Documentary at the Monaco and Hollywood Reels film festivals.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of "Momo's" trailer provides a strong sense of the film but contains spoilers galore.
As the trailer showed, the filmmaker expertly combined the standard documentary techniques of talking heads, vintage photos, and video clips to inform the audience about a man who the film stated was involved with several significant events in American history and presented first-hand accounts that supported those assertions.
The film tells the story well and at a good pace, but you might miss something if you blink. Our primary guides through the life of an indisputably very tough and ambitious man are his daughters Bonnie and Francine Giancana and his grand-nephew Nicholas Celozzi. Their portrait of Sam is very reminiscent of the depictions of the domestic and professional lives of famed fictional mobster Tony Soprano.
A particularly strong parallel exists regarding one daughter discussing how a front-page newspaper story "outed" her father to her and Tony's daughter Meadow realizing that her father's business activities extended beyond owning small businesses.
The involvement of the Giancana offspring extends beyond depicting Sam as a crime boss to facilitate including clips from Sam's home movies in the film.
There truly did not seem to be a dull moment in Sam's life right up to his dramatic death. Further, he seemed to thrive by primarily letting business instincts (rather than personal feelings) guide his actions.
The portion of the film that addressed Sam's childhood demonstrated how he began on the road that ended in the same manner as many of his colleagues. These events led to his reported involvement in the St. Valentine's Day massacre and subsequent rise through the ranks of the Chicago mafia.
The documentary also explained how Sam's prominence facilitated developing high-profile friendships and connections that led to reported involvement in events such as a planned assassination of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, both the successful election and assassination of President Kennedy, and the death of Marilyn Monroe.
The bottom line regarding "Momo" is that does an amazing job of telling roughly 70 years worth of adventure, love, and personal tragedies into 90 minutes and easily passes the test for a good documentary; it informs and entertains.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Momo" is welcome to email me. You can also follow me on Twitter via @tvdvdguy. Anyone who wants to know anything else should be advised that I ain't sayin' nothin' else without my lawyer.