For the first time in recent memory, Netflix has released several new documentaries that explore the lives and legacies of famous Italian-American figures. From athletes to actors and movie stars to even mobsters, here are the top three documentaries that tell the stories of Americans of Italian descent:
1. Sly (2023)
Best known for his role as Rocky Balboa in the Rocky movie franchise, Sylvester Stallone is front and center in the documentary Sly as director Thom Zimny conveys the many complexities behind the man beloved by generation after generation of film enthusiasts and Italian Americans alike. It is the first official documentary about Stallone’s life, who has been known as the “Italian Stallion” throughout his career as his family hails from Gioia del Colle in Puglia, Italy.
Outside of Stallone, several well-known actors and directors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Quentin Tarantino, and Henry Winkler contributed to the project as interviewees. If you’re interested in watching Sly, click HERE.
2. It Ain’t Over (2022)
Spotlighting the illustrious life and career of Yankees legend Yogi Berra, It Ain’t Over goes far beyond the “Yogi-isms” that he was known for. Although one of his most famous sayings “It ain’t over till it’s over” is the basis for the documentary’s title, this film goes much deeper into the life of Yogi and the tremendous respect that his play style and unparalleled success in the sport of baseball demanded.
Despite being an 18x All-Star, 13x World Series champion, and 3x AL MVP, Berra never forgot where he came from as the son of Italian immigrants from Malvaglio near Milan. He grew up in the Italian neighborhood of St. Louis known as “The Hill,” and the pride he had for his Italian roots never faded as his fame grew. Over the course of his life, Berra was a longtime supporter of the National Italian American Foundation, received NIAF’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports in 1996, and inspired an entire generation of Italian Americans to pursue their baseball dreams.
To watch It Ain’t Over now, click HERE.
3. Get Gotti (2023)
This documentary details the battle by law enforcement agencies to convict John Gotti, the notorious boss of the Gambino crime family in New York City during the late 20th century. Eventually dubbed the “Teflon Don” for his ability to avoid prison time after being acquitted in three consecutive court cases between 1986 and 1990, this series takes a closer look at each trial and the reasons why Gotti was able to successfully evade imprisonment before justice was finally served in April of 1992.
While Gotti’s grandparents were originally from San Giuseppe Vesuviano in the province of Naples, Italy, the infamous mob boss only contributed to the negative stereotypes surrounding Italian Americans that were prevalent at the time on account of his participation in organized crime. He cast a shadow on any legitimate and hard-working Italians trying to pursue the American Dream, as any success they enjoyed would often be falsely attributed to some sort of association with the Italian-American mafia.
The impact of Gotti’s behavior on the Italian community and the United States as a whole was profound. To learn more and watch Get Gotti, click HERE.