Narrated from a smoked filled room by Tony Darrow, The Soprano State, New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption, The Documentarty Part One, goes beyond the New York Times Bestseller by Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure.
The book chronicled corruption in New Jersey from the days of the Byrne administration through its publication in 2008 during the Corzine years. The movie traces New Jersey’s culture of corruption all the way back to the delegates of the Continental Congress who were absent from Philadelphia because they were collecting tolls from travelers trekking from New York to the City of Brotherly Love, and to Richard Stockton who was the only man to sign both the Declaration of Independence and a loyalty oath to the British Crown.
Darrow noted that we’re still collecting those tolls along the NJ Turnpike. He didn’t mention that we named a college after Stockton. But that point was made by Sharpe James’ hero’s welcome back to Newark after being released from prison.
Both funny and exasperating, the movie is extremely entertaining. Not “especially for a documentary.” Audiences elsewhere in the country might nominate it for Best Comedy, but for this Jersey Guy, it is a tragedy. New Jersey audiences are likely have their laughter tempered by anger, frustration and shock. That was my experience and my sense of the Jersey dominated crowd at the Ziegfield last evening. Like the book, the movie is very funny, except that it is about us. It is filled with unbelievable tales of schemes that actually happened, and that we are still paying for.
Ingle, McClure and Politifax’s Nick Acocella are featured prominently, as is Governor Chris Chrisite. Carla Katz has a couple of cameos in camisoles.
There’s lots of footage of familiar faces. From Monmouth County, there’s Terrence Weldon, John Merla and Solomon Dwek. Former Senate President John Lynch, George “The King of South Jersey” Norcross, Jim McGreevey, Charles Kushner, and the 44 politicians and rabbis arrested in the summer of 2009 are all featured.
Towards the end of the film, Governor Chris Christie is asked, “How do you change New Jersey’s image?” “You change New Jersey’s image by changing New Jersey,” was his answer, “change the culture and the image will follow.”
Everybody who lives in New Jersey should see this movie. Especially U. S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
The Soprano State opens Friday, October 22 at Clearview Cinemas in Red Bank, Aberdeen, Hoboken, Montclair, Morristown, Ocean Township and Tenafly. There will be a New Jersey 101.5 Exclusive Screening and live broadcast with The Jersey Guys and Bob Ingle on Wednesday, October 20 at 7pm at the Clearview Middlebrook Galleria Cinema 10 on Route 35 south in Ocean Township.
Don’t miss it. See it before you vote.