Sunday, February 28, 2010

Film Recommendation of the Week...

Mr. Untouchable
Release date October 26, 2007.
Running time 1 hour 31 minutes.

This documentary reveals the inner workings of the Harlem drug empire run by Leroy "Nicky" Barnes during the the 1970's. He was the leader of a group called "The Council", who controlled a heroin ring that was estimated to gross $72 million dollars annually at it's peak. Way before John Gotti, aka "The Teflon Don", Barnes' fame came from beating one rap after another, from murder to bribery and everything in between until he arrogantly posed for a picture in this Sunday New Times magazine article-

Approximately six months after this article appeared, he was sentenced to life in prison. Even though the evidence against him was weak, federal prosecutors had enough against him to convict him of conspiracy, and with the new Rockefeller drug laws on the books, he was basically done for. Or was he?

Things began to unravel for Barnes while in prison. According to Barnes, the other members of "The Council" were not taking care of his attorney fees and one of them, the flamboyant ladies' man Guy Fisher (the first black man to own the Apollo Theater in Harlem, whose nephew Corey Fisher currently plays point guard for the Villanova University Wildcats) was allegedly having an affair with one of Nicky's girlfriends.

This lead to Barnes contacting the state attorney generals' office with an offer to testify against the other members of "The Council". His testimony led to over 70 felony convictions and the total dismantling of the drug ring that he and the other members had started in the early 70's. By 1984 they were all behind bars. Frank James received life plus 40 years and Guy Fisher 25 to life without possibility of parole. He even testified against the mother of his own two children, who served 10 years because of his testimony. Now that's what you call a rat.

For his part, Barnes served 21 years of a possible life sentence and was released sometime in 1998. He has been in the Witness Protection Program ever since. The most astonishing aspect of this documentary is Barnes himself gets to tell the story from beginning to end, juxtaposed by interviews with several other key members of his inner circle from his heyday as Harlem's Heroin kingpin.

An excellent documentary and a definite a must-see.

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