American Experience - Season 2, Episode 2 - Rotten Tomatoes

Episode Info

Directed by the Emmy Award-winning Thomas Lennon, this episode of the PBS television series The American Experience focuses on how Prohibition, which lasted from 1919 to 1933, did not come about simply because of Bible-thumping teetotalers, but was in large part a modern attempt to improve the life of workers. As Lennon shows, Detroit-based automobile tycoon Henry Ford parlayed the success of his "Sociological Department," which reduced alcohol use by Ford's workers, into a movement to outlaw alcohol nationwide. Unfortunately, as the documentary also shows, prohibiting something that millions wanted led to criminalizing millions of citizens and opened the door for corruption, smuggling, and graft. In the end, many of Prohibition's supporters came to support repeal of the 18th Amendment. Highlights of this program include archival photos and newsreel footage, as well as commentary by historians.

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