Dead Famous

2If you were hooked by Underbelly‘s first series, you won’t want to miss Dead Famous on ABC1 this Thursday.

The documentary revisits the Melbourne gangland wars as told by the two Age journalists who wrote the Leadbelly books: John Silvester and Andrew Rule.

Now without any mini-series dramatisation, A-list stars and fleshy nudity, they re-tell this chapter of Melbourne’s modern history.

While it will chronicle what took place in the underworld, it contrasts this with corruption claims within the higher levels of Victoria Police. Silvester and Rule detail how the police shuffled from singular crime to singular crime before the Purana Task Force was established to tackle the gangland war.

Names like Carl Williams, Alphonse Gangitano, Jason Moran and Andrew Veniamin feature throughout the piece -but to the narrators, they are afforded no glamour.

Indeed Silvester is at pains to illustrate that it was the pursuit of celebrity that was the biggest downfall by these criminals. Hence the title.

The documentary also features interviews with familiar names including Mick Gatto and Mark ‘Chopper’ Read.

One pivotal character remains unnamed, simply referred to as “The Running Man,” for his agility in jogging from the scene of a murder and evading police.

Some scenes will see Silvester and Rule re-create the key turning-points in the story as they experienced as investigative journalists. Actual locations are revisited.

This is a powerfully-told story. Silvester’s presence is dominant as storyteller. It is a dry, warts-and-all look at this frequently sensationalised culture.

And it reiterates that print journalism can devote such manpower and money to a massive story across the years. Something television journalism can only dream about.

4_starsDead Famous airs 8:30pm Thursday on ABC1.

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