The overall production quality of "Lansky" is barely adequate. This HBO TV special comes across as a film made under severe time and financial constraints. Nonetheless, the acting talent of Richard Dreyfuss is utterly fantastic. The now middle-aged star gives a performance that ranks among his very best. Dreyfuss clearly understands this low keyed Jewish gangster who lead much of American organized crime in the previous century. The character actor Max Perlich also does a splendid job of portraying Lansky during his earlier years. Perlich is a skillful thespian who deserves greater respect and attention. He ought to have received at least an Academy Award nomination for his splendid supporting work in "Rush."
Meyer Lansky was something of a highly intelligent mob boss who essentially perceived himself as a misunderstood polite business man; neither better nor worse than the titans of that era's capitalist business organizations. Lansky rationalizations conveniently ignored the fact that murder and other forms of violence are not everyday realities of conventional American capitalism. Lansky, though, was probably correct to conclude that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Estes Kefauver hounded him mostly out of less than noble reasons.
"Lansky" accurately depicts the Jewish gangsters as far more intelligent than those generally found in other ethnic groups. Also, the Meyer Lanskys, "Bugsy" Siegels, and Alfred Rothsteins were the only generation of that ethnic tradition that chose careers in organized crime. Their progeny did not follow in their father's footsteps! Meyer Lansky, for instance, made sure that his own son attended West Point and became a U.S. military officer. "Lansky" earns four stars. I highly recommend this movie if you are someone genuinely interested in understanding the motivations of a Meyer Lansky. He may not be an American hero, but Lansky cannot be ignored if you truly desire to comprehend the difficulties of many to assimilate into our national culture.