Films on Corruption



The Best Government Money Can Buy?

Documentary 2009 NR 76 minutes. Just how influential are lobbyists? Francis Megahy writes and directs this absorbing documentary about lobbyists’ role in American politics, the far-reaching implications of their spending on elections and their threat to democracy. In addition to exploring case studies from several industries such as health care and energy, the film features insights from Capitol Hill insiders, former White House officials and more. See Full Review

American Hustle

Docudrama 2013 R. This fictionalization of the “Abscam” (Arab scam) scandal of the early 1980s follows con man Irving Rosenfeld and his lover, Sydney Prosser, as they help an eccentric FBI agent expose corruption among several members of Congress in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The opening screen states:  “Some of this actually happened.” Christian Bale is hilarious and occasionally heart-wrenching as a con-man trying to make it big; Amy Adams is alluring as his mistress and partner; Bradley Cooper plays an FBI agent who exudes ambition and greed; and Jennifer Lawrence is excellent as an unbalanced wife.  And then you throw in a likeable mayor (Jeremy Renner) who believes he’s helping his city, corrupt politicians, and the mob. It deftly balances humor and serious drama. This is a silly, fun, and funny film with great acting and good dialogue.

Casino Jack

Docudrama 2010 R 124 minutes. Kevin Spacey stars in this drama as disgraced political lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who defrauded Native American tribes out of tens of millions of dollars in his efforts to peddle influence in Washington’s corridors of power. As justice closes in on Abramoff and his associates, the audacious scope of his scams comes to light. Based on true events, this film from director George Hickenlooper co-stars Kelly Preston and Barry Pepper.

Mr. Schneider Goes to Washington

Documentary 2007 75 minutes. In a recent CNN poll 67% of American’s said they believe the American government is corrupt. Even more alarming, it seems 99.9% of the population does nothing to change it. Frustrated by Washington and his apathy towards it, Mr. Schneider Goes to Washington to find out if things are as bad as he thinks they are. Sadly, he is not disappointed. Because of their dependence on big business and special interests to finance their political campaigns, almost every decision the President, Vice-President and Members of Congress make is corrupted. After all, there is no bigger issue facing our elected political leaders than getting re-elected. More frightening though, no one seems to care. The average American is more concerned about the next American Idol than the next American President. This isn’t lost on the media, whose news coverage reflects its audience’s preoccupation. The result: a population of uniformed, disengaged and disenfranchised non-voters hold the world’s only super power in check. Are America and the world destined for disaster? Not if Mr. Schneider has anything to say about it. “Throughout the film I kept asking myself, ‘Where is our democracy heading?’ Everyone needs to see this film.” — Lee Iacocca “Not all political documentaries are dull and staid, this one has porn stars. Perhaps it’s what you’d expect from a reality producer, but the result is a virtual makeover of the genre to make it fresh and fun.” — Cucalorus Film Festival “Amazingly Mr. Schneider has made a film about corruption and apathy that is informative, entertaining and enraging.” — New Orleans Film Festival

The Big Fix

Documentary 2011 NR 1hr 30m. This turns cameras on the devastating 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, where two filmmakers unearth a stunning stream of corruption. If you think you know the story of the Gulf spill, take the time to watch this brilliant film that not only re-tells that story with details that have been purposely hidden, but also helps connect the dots between how and why we are consistently lied to and our health compromised in the name of corporate profits. It features investigative reporting in the Gulf and interviews ranging from the Gulf to Washington DC in an attempt to understand how this disaster could have been allowed to happen. This film presents some important on-the-ground journalism about the BP spill that is not being done by many others.  See Full Review

The Big Buy: How Tom DeLay Stole Congress

Documentary 2006 NR 75 minutes. This compelling documentary, co-directed by Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck, sounds a wake-up call to every citizen in America to remain diligent and keep a watchful eye on our government. An in-depth examination of how one man’s agenda to “completely redesign government” can involve drastic measures and corporate power grabs, this hard-hitting film probes Texas congressman Tom DeLay’s unscrupulous efforts to bend democracy to his will.


Prince of the City

Docudrama 1981 R 167 minutes. Based on a true story, this gritty police drama from director Sidney Lumet stars Treat Williams as Daniel Ciello, a New York cop who agrees to help the feds expose corruption within the department. Overcome with guilt, Ciello struggles with his betrayal and, before too long, begins to crack under the pressure. Filled with impressive performances, this thriller also stars Bob Balaban, Jerry Orbach and Lance Henriksen.


Docudrama 1973 R 130 minutes. Based on the real-life story of New York City undercover cop Frank Serpico (an honest man who was grievously wounded for refusing to take part in the corruption forced upon him by his peers), this movie ranks among Al Pacino’s greatest film roles. Directed by Sidney Lumet, Serpico is at once an indictment of corrupted authority and a shining testament to one man’s effort to reform the New York City Police Department.

Biography: Frank Serpico

Documentary 2000 NR 50 minutes. An honest cop who slammed into the “Blue Wall of Silence” when he complained of police corruption, Frank Serpico became famous for his integrity — a quality he maintained in the face of great personal danger. This engrossing program chronicles the bravery and perseverance of the remarkable New York officer who risked alienation — and his life — in his dogged efforts to blow the whistle on and clean up corruption within the force.

The Departed

Drama 2006 R 151 minutes. To take down Boston’s Irish Mafia, the police send in one of their own to infiltrate the underworld, not realizing the syndicate has done the same thing. While an undercover cop curries favor with a kingpin, a criminal rises through the police ranks. This seemed like it was based on an actual real life story, there was a big time mobster in Boston named Whitey Bolger who was always avoiding jail, and it turned out he did so because he was an “informant” who was really controlling his FBI handler rather than the other way around. But this story isn’t that. It’s some contrivance loaded Hollywood nonsense. Leonardo Dicaprio gives his best performance as Billy Costigan, a low-life Boston citizen who plans on finding a job in the police force. When he gets a job from the Boston State Police as an undercover investigator to take down brutal mobster Frank Costello (a brilliant Jack Nicholson)and get his works paid. Big shot Massachusetts state police detective Collin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is working on taking Costello down the old fashion way, but is secretly working with him and is a rat in the police force. This is a simple plot pitting cops and crooks at each others throats for no apparent reason, each with a spy planted in the other’s camp. The story centers on attempts to discover each spy’s identity. This results in a great deal of anguish accompanied by lots of shooting and killing, cops killing crooks, killing cops, killing each other. All conversations, by cops or crooks, are accompanied by F-bombs and hitting each other, you really can’t tell one side from the other, while both spies have the same girlfriend, who sleeps with each alternately and with no apparent moral or situational concerns. As the gravity of the crime increases and secrets and lies are revealed, you’ll get Martin Scorsese crime like you have never seen before and it will leave you shocked and speechless. Scorsese deals with the themes of power, corruption of authority and lying more than ever in this picture. His great gangster films were either really based on actual events and stuck to those events (Goodfellas) or had the gritty, random feel of what crime and violence in the real world really are like.


Quiz Show

Docudrama 1994 PG-13 133 minutes. Robert Redford directs this infamous true story of Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), who rocketed to national fame as a repeat winner on the TV quiz show “Twenty-One.” In the late 1950s, prime-time game shows were a cultural phenomenon. But the American public didn’t realize it was being hoodwinked … until persevering congressional investigator Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow) unmasked the corruption behind the show’s glittering façade.


Playing for the Mob

Documentary 30 for 30 2014 NR 1hr17m. Mobster Henry Hill, who was immortalized in Goodfellas, reveals how he orchestrated the fixing of Boston College basketball games in the late 1970s.

Eight Men Out

Docudrama 1988 PG 120 minutes. Disgruntled Chicago White Sox players agree to lose the World Series for a big payoff in this account of the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal. The team owner underpays his talented players, leaving the door open for a gambling syndicate head to swoop in.


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