The Nation: Captive Audience

The New York City Corrections Department did not classify the TV showing of The Godfather as a special event, but it turned into one. Just as the first segment of the four-part saga of the Corleone Mafia family began to get violent, the clock struck 10 p.m., lockup time in the city's jails. At the Queens House of Detention, 43 inmates protested and refused to go back into their cells, and extra guards had to be called to herd them to bed.

That incident led to second thoughts, and special-event status was conferred on the movie, permitting city prisoners (virtually all...

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