Amateur Night at City Hall: The Story of Frank L. Rizzo

Special Limited Engagement

Support cutting-edge film programs

become a member

Amateur Night at City Hall: The Story of Frank L. Rizzo is Robert Mugge’s 75-minute documentary portrait of Philadelphia’s most colorful and controversial public figure. The film chronicles Rizzo’s meteoric rise from cop on the beat, to law-and-order police commissioner, to mayor of what was then America’s fourth largest city, illustrating key events from Rizzo’s career and analyzing both causes and effects of his actions. Amateur Night was world premiered in February of 1978 (during a blizzard!) at the Walnut Mall Cinema on the edge of the UPenn Campus, and was broadcast nationally over PBS in January of 1979. At the time of the broadcast, Rizzo was still mayor and expressed his displeasure. He even threatened not to give Philadelphia’s WHYY the Living History Center for its new headquarters as promised, so WHYY’s general manager tried to have the national broadcast canceled. That led to a public row between director and general manager, but the broadcast went forward, including in Philadelphia and New Jersey, where disclaimers were added to console Rizzo’s passionate followers. (Robert Mugge, USA, 1979, 75 min.)

Followed by a conversation with Director, Robert Mugge