Sunday, October 2, 2016

Traficant: The Congressman of Crimetown Official Screening Review

"Traficant was the only congressman whose wages were being garnished by the IRS for undeclared mob bribes."
~Traficant: The Congressman of Crimetown

              Eric Murphy, Writer and Director

Last night my wife and I had the pleasure of attending the Traficant: The Congressman of Crimetown official release in Youngstown, Ohio, the exact location Congressman Traficant hailed from and represented. The movie has won film awards and been selected to show at film festivals across the country, from Cleveland to Austin and Beverly Hills. In a special showing at the Youngstown Playhouse I got to meet the writer and director, Eric Murphy, with Steel Valley Films. You may have seen some of his other work on the History Channel, Ancient Aliens. He seemed like a down-to-earth guy who had a very long day. The feedback from viewers was great and massively overwhelming, so I can understand the exhaustion, even from success.

If you weren't into politics before 2002 and don't know Traficant, here's the trailer:

 


For Eric's first full-length film, this was one heck of a debut. It probably helped that Ed O'Niell (Married with Children and Modern Family), a Youngstowner himself, produced the film and starred in a few interviews along with fellow local celebrity Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini and college football coaching legend Jim Tressel, who is now the president of Youngstown State University. However, the bulk of the work certainly fell on Eric Murphy, and he did a fantastic job.

Congressman Tim Ryan
I must say that I was probably one of the few visitors to the region. Being Youngstown where everyone seemed to know Traficant, for better or worse, the seats were certainly filled with fans and people who had worked with the man prior to his life as a congressman. However, Eric did a wonderful job highlighting the history, both the good and bad, and explaining exactly how and why even today Youngstowners say Traficant was "our corrupt congressman" with pride. My wife Marsha has told me about the infamous Traficant for years and his Sunday morning shows, but I never fully understood how someone who could so succinctly put politicians into place with to-the-point buffoonery could be both corrupt and so well loved. Now I do. It's an intriguing tale and gave me much more insight into the region and its difficulties. The film even highlighted Congressman Tim Ryan's efforts to pick up where Traficant left off, bringing revitalization to Youngstown, a depressed city whose downfall was caused by the abrupt closing of the steel manufacturing industry after record breaking sales.

I certainly enjoyed the showing and meeting Eric. He also has great taste in hats! In fact, while there were many great lines and scenes from the movie, my favorite is still, "Traficant was the only congressman whose wages were being garnished by the IRS for undeclared mob bribes." It's a factual statement, and so absurd even I, a dark fantasy and horror novelist, couldn't make it up. So, 5 stars all the way for Traficant: The Congressman of Crimetown. By all means, give it a view. You won't regret it.

Traficant: The Congressman of Crimetown is currently available on VimeoiTunes, and Amazon.

Side Note: After the movie and speaking with Eric Murphy, Marsha and I stopped at a historic Italian restaurant called Cassese's MVR for dinner. It was quite good and is a favorite when we make it into the Youngstown neck of the woods. I highly recommend it. But as an entertaining end to the evening, Jim Tressel was there filling his belly, too. What a small world.


Weston Kincade ~ Author of the A Life of Death collection, The Priors, and Strange Circumstances