Starring Leroy ‘Nicky’ Barnes playing himself! This is a fascinating look at the less than clean underbelly of the New York drug scene in the 70’s. Filmmaker Marc Levin using a combination of archival footage and new interviews bring this story to life.

Nicky was the archetypal poor black kid growing up in maybe not the best environment. In his mind the solution was illegal drugs, at first as a user to escape the harsh reality, but then as a dealer to reap the benefits. Few drug dealers want the glare of the press upon them, preferring to skulk in the netherworld, Nicky though was different. Nicky craved the spotlight, how many many drug dealers have you met that would pose for a cover of the New York Times magazine?

And hence the nickname, Mr. Untouchable, but was he? Yes he had power, yes he had money, and yes he could buy a certain amount of protection from corrupt officials. But was it enough? Well the short answer is no, Nicky’s past caught up with him in the mid 80’s, suddenly Nicky disappeared from the scene. There were numerous explanations floated around, Nicky was ‘offed’ by the Mob who were not appreciating the free press that he was creating.

The truth though was much more prosaic, Nicky had come in from the cold. Hounded by the feds he had turned himself in. Nicky’s trusted commanders meanwhile quickly cut Nicky out of the action and carved a nice niche for themselves. Revenge is a powerful emotion, and here we are 20 years later, Nicky is part of the witness protection plan, and enjoying freedom in some nondescript place, while his right hand men are languishing in jail.

Mr. Untouchable opens in select theaters on October 26, and is well worth watching. You can catch a clip on the web site.

Simon Barrett

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