Heroin King of Baltimore: The Rise and Fall of Melvin Williams (2013)

Plot: Melvin Williams was the heroin king of Baltimore who amassed nearly a half billion dollars during the 70's and early 80's. After the Martin Luther King assassination, Baltimore City officials would call on Melvin Williams, age 27, to help stop the riots. Famous in Baltimore for telling the rioters to stop and go home, Williams left the police bewildered that they didn't have enough power to stop the riots even with the armed forces involved. However, instead of being grateful, the powers that be saw Williams as a threat.

My Review and Thoughts:

A street legend. A gambling icon. A thug and master of the underworld of street life. There is only one Melvin Williams. This is a documentary that shines in the exploration of teaching apart of hidden criminal history.

At 15 he was a millionaire. A gambler legend, an icon of pool and cards and craps. A carrier of a nickel plated 45. His word and his craft shined on the street and all those associated with gambling and crime knew his actions, image and passion for the game of street life. 

Murder was common.

As Melvin grew in the actions of gambling it was common for those inside the craft of gambling to pack thousands of dollars and with those packs of money came those who figured they could make a quick score. They were known as Stick up men, those who come to robe, but those who robed always ended up dead and scattered across the city with bullet holes.

Melvin was the master that was known by police and pears for they would make the simple comment and was also noted in a police report that stated: "I never saw him lose".

This showcases interviews with David Simon who is the producer of the HBO Television series The Wire which Melvin starred in eleven episodes as Deacon. He also was featured in the show by BET American Gangster series.

Melvin was able to position himself into the lifestyle of the mafia and gangsters in the Italian and Jewish world becoming friends with Jewish crime boss Julius "The Lord" Salisbury. Both ended up becoming partners and friends and in reality The Lord was like a father figure to him.

This showcases not only his rise to power in the gambling world but also his true known image as a drug trafficker from the 70's into the 80's. He was a kingpin of drugs and gambling. This documentary explores all the realities of Melvin's Life, from his childhood to his adulthood in the criminal life which more or less consisted of his childhood up until he was caught and charged in 1985.

While in prison the future producer of The Wire, David Simon wrote five articles on Melvin titled Easy Money: Anatomy of a Drug Empire which was published in the Baltimore Sun in 1987. These articles only further built his legend in the underworld of gambling and drugs. Melvin was the inspiration for the character Avon Barksdale in The Wire and many of Melvin's actions in life where portrayed in the series.

I really enjoyed this documentary it was an eye opening experience of history told by those who lived it and was a part of it.

I recommend this documentary as an eye opening piece of historical reality inside the parts of history that tends to vanish and wash away through time. History tends to vanish but a name can spark a legend. What’s important is this criminal legend is still alive and you get to experience his own words and ideas and thoughts on his own reality of his life in the criminal world through this documentary.

A must see little criminal documentary of information and historical value.