A Look Back at Prohibition

A Look Back at Prohibition

This month, we’re looking back 100 years to 1920 and the Prohibition Era.  The 18th Amendment prohibiting intoxicating liquors proved difficult to enforce, as bootlegging and speakeasies fueled the underground market.  Historically, Prohibition is fascinating – from its political and religious origins, to groups that vigorously opposed it, to its impact on social mores. We hope you’ll join us to mark this intriguing centennial with the following programs:

The Prohibition Era: A Confusing and Misunderstood Time

Saturday, January 18 at 2:00 p.m.

Richard F. Hamm, a history professor who has studied Prohibition for more than 35 years and is co-editor of a forthcoming book, Prohibition’s Greatest Myths: The Distilled Truth About America’s Anti-Alcohol Crusade, will cover some of the common myths and misunderstandings about Prohibition, the 13-year failed “noble experiment.” Beyond debunking, he will explain how Prohibition became such an important policy goal and was added to the Constitution.

Wicked Albany: Lawlessness & Liquor in the Prohibition Era 

Wednesday, January 29 at 7:00 p.m.

What was Albany like during the “Roaring 20s?” University at Albany Professor Frankie Bailey will paint a picture of stark contrasts, as Prohibition produced the exact opposite result of its intent: merely forcing alcohol-related commerce underground, and lawlessness and violence to the forefront.

Bootleggers and Rum Runners Film Series 

Three classic films depict unruly and humorous elements of the 1920s: 

Friday, January 17 at 2:00 p.m. – The Roaring Twenties (1939)

Starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, this film set in the Prohibition era is still widely considered the greatest gangster movie of all time.  Two World War I buddies team up to become ruthless underworld kingpins. 

Friday, January 24 at 2:00 p.m. – The Public Enemy (1931)

Two Chicago youths (James Cagney and Eddie Woods) rise up from poverty to become petty thieves, bootleggers, and finally, cold-blooded killers. Also starring Jean Harlow.

Friday, January 31 at 2:00 p.m. – What! No Beer? (1933)

Buster Keaton and Jimmy Durante star in this comic tale of two men who naively try to cash in on the waning days of Prohibition by peddling their accidentally-diluted beer.

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