Originally telecast February 12, 1981, Gangster Chronicles was the three-hour opener for the subsequent miniseries. This first installment is a sort of Young Tommy Guns, with youthful, charismatic actors playing some of the more odious criminals of the 20th century. Joe Penny portrays Bugsy Siegel, Michael Nouri essays Lucky Luciano, and Brian Benben plays a fictional composite of several mobsters (here named "Michael Lasker"). The project was three years in production (so say the ads), and was dedicated to the proposition that Crime Does Not Pay (also say the ads). While the miniseries covered nearly four decades, the opener takes us from 1907 to the Prohibition era of the 1920s. After its initial run, the entire Gangster Chronicles saga was boiled down to 121 minutes and released to videocassette as Gangster Wars.
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