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American Gangster (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

American Gangster (film)


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American Gangster

Theatrical poster

Directed by Produced by Written by

Ridley Scott Brian Grazer Ridley Scott Steve Zaillian Denzel Washington Russell Crowe Chiwetel Ejiofor Josh Brolin Lymari Nadal Marc Streitenfeld Harris Savides Pietro Scalia

Starring

Music by Cinematography Editing by

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Distributed by Release date(s) Running time Country Language Budget

Universal Studios November 2, 2007 158 min. United States English US$100 million Official website
[1]

All Movie Guide profile IMDb profile

American Gangster is a 2007 crime film written by Steve Zaillian and directed by Ridley Scott. The film stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Washington portrays Frank Lucas, a real-life heroin kingpin from Harlem who smuggled heroin into the US on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War. Crowe portrays Richie Roberts, a detective attempting to bring down Lucas' drug empire.
[2]

Filming was done on location in New York City. American Gangster was released in the United States and Canada on November 2, 2007.

Contents
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1 Plot 2 Cast 3 Development 4 Production r 4.1 Writing r 4.2 Casting r 4.3 Filming 5 Release r 5.1 Box office performance r 5.2 Critical reception s 5.2.1 Top ten lists r 5.3 Awards s 5.3.1 Wins s 5.3.2 Nominations r 5.4 Soundtrack s 5.4.1 Track listing r 5.5 DVD and HD DVD release

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5.6 Inspiration 6 References r 6.1 Bibliography 7 External links


r

[edit] Plot
Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson, a disciplined and intelligent black gangster, runs much of Harlem and imparts his wisdom onto his former driver turned right-hand man, Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington). When Johnson dies of a heart attack in 1968, at an electronics store. Frank dislikes the new, flashy gangsters and decides to take control. To gain money and power, he travels to Southeast Asia, and with the help of his cousin who is an Army Senior NCO, strikes a deal with a Taiwanese general who supplies him with pure heroin. Frank then has the drugs transported back to America via military service planes, hidden in the coffins of seven dead U.S. soldiers from the Vietnam War. Franks unique drug supply enables him to sell potent drugs (Blue Magic heroin) at low prices. He quickly makes a fortune and buys several nightclubs and apartments. He moves his family from North Carolina to New Jersey, where he purchases a large estate for his humble mother. His five brothers are enlisted as his lieutenants in the NYC drug trade forming The Country Boys, who work together to traffic and sell dope on Harlem streets. During his rise, Frank meets and falls in love with Eva, a Puerto Rican beauty queen. Through his discipline, organization, and willingness to kill those in his way, Frank quickly rises to the top of the Harlem drug and crime scene. Meanwhile, Newark, New Jersey detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is juggling a failing marriage, late-night law school classes, and his police career. When Richie and his partner, Javier Rivera, discover nearly $1 million in unmarked bills in a car, Richie resists temptation and turns the money in. His rare honest ways make him a hated member of his precinct, causing his partner to be exiled from the force, while Richie's rampant womanizing behavior leads his wife to seek a divorce and custody of their son. After his exiled partner dies from overdosing on Blue Magic, Richie's honesty catches him a break when his superior Captain Lou Toback (Ted Levine) puts him in charge of a newly created task force to stop drug trafficking in Essex County, New Jersey and New York City. Richie handpicks honest cops and gets to work on finding who is supplying Blue Magic. As Frank's business prospers, he makes a point of operating quietly and dressing with a modest conservatism both as a sign of strength and to avoid attracting the attention of the law. However, Frank disregards this habit for his wife for one ostentatious night out, attending a Muhammad Ali boxing match with several known mobsters in a gaudy fur coat and hat, and with a ring-side seat. As it happens, Roberts is on duty observing the event and sees this unknown, but obviously wealthy, person associating with high-level criminals, as well as having better seats than the Italian mafia. Robert becomes
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American Gangster (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

suspicious, and he begins to investigate this unknown (to him) figure in New York organized crime. Even as Frank realizes he has exposed himself to police scrutiny, he must make deals with the Italian mafia and fend off corrupt NYC detectives, such as Det. Trupo (Josh Brolin), who extort and threaten him. Trupo's dislike of Frank is capped when his prized 350 Shelby Mustang is bombed before his eyes. He must also contend with local crime figure Nicky Barnes (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), who is taking some of Frank's product, diluting it himself, and selling it under Frank's "brand" name. Unidentified assassins try to kill Franks wife, further destabilizing him and worsening his unsteady marriage. Things finally turn to the worst when Frank sees the U.S. Military vacating Vietnam, which in turn cuts off his primary heroin transportation. Richie catches another break when his men witness the driver of one of Franks top soldiers shooting a woman. They use the drivers bad predicament to get him to wear a wire. The wire allows Richie and his task force to discover when a plane carrying drugs is landing. Meanwhile, Trupo leads his band of police officers to Frank's mother's mansion where they take Frank's emergency cash supply. When the plane lands, Richie and his men follow the drugs into Newark's projects and obtain a warrant. A huge group of police and detectives attack the drug apartments en masse and a large shootout occurs. Frank is at church when the bust goes down, but he is arrested after the service ends. Frank and Richie finally meet, and Franks attempts to bully Richie are unsuccessful. With no other options, Frank decides to provide names of numerous other criminals, including his and Richies common enemies: corrupt NYC detectives. Numerous corrupt cops are arrested; a distraught Trupo kills himself to avoid arrest. Richie, having passed the Bar Exam, prosecutes Frank, but he leaves the prosecutor's office after the Lucas trial. The first client he takes after becoming a defense attorney is Frank. Because of his cooperation, Frank receives a relatively light sentence of 15 years rather than the original 70. At the films end, he steps out of jail to the sounds and era of the 1990s, significantly older and out of place.

[edit] Cast

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Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas Russell Crowe as Detective Richie Roberts Chiwetel Ejiofor as Huey Lucas Josh Brolin as Detective Trupo Lymari Nadal as Eva Cuba Gooding Jr. as Nicky Barnes Ted Levine as Lou Toback Armand Assante as Dominic Cattano John Hawkes as Detective Freddy Spearman John Ortiz as Detective Javier J. Rivera RZA as Detective Moses Jones Common as Turner Lucas T.I. as Stevie Lucas

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Yul Vazquez as Alfonse Abruzzo Ruby Dee as Mama Lucas Idris Elba as Tango Jon Polito as Rossi Carla Gugino as Laurie Roberts Joe Morton as Charlie Williams Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Doc Roger Guenveur Smith as Nate Kevin Corrigan as Campizi Norman Reedus as Detective Norman Reilly Clarence Williams III as Bumpy Johnson The Gufs Band (seen on stage in the club)

[edit] Development
In 2000, Universal Studios and Imagine Entertainment purchased the rights to "The Return of Superfly", a New York magazine story by Mark Jacobson about the rise and fall of the 1970s heroin kingpin Frank Lucas. In 2002, screenwriter Steven Zaillian brought a 170-page script to director Ridley Scott, who expressed interest in making two films from it. However, Scott did not immediately pursue the project. In November 2003, Universal and Imagine entered negotiations with Brian De Palma to direct Tru Blu, with a script by Zaillian based on Frank Lucas. slated for a spring 2004 start.
[4] [4] [3]

Zaillian interpreted the story as one of "American


[5]

business and race", focusing the script thematically on corporate business.

Production was initially

In March 2004, the studio entered new negotiations with Antoine Fuqua
[6]

to direct, as well as Denzel Washington to star in the film as Frank Lucas. The following May, Benicio del Toro entered negotiations to star as Detective Richie Roberts, who brought down Lucas. Production of Tru Blu was reset to begin in early fall 2004, with the film slated for a release date of June 3, 2005.
[7]

In September 2004, Dania Ramirez entered negotiations to join the cast of the film, now titled
[8]

American Gangster.

Universal Studios reported that it greenlit American Gangster with a budget of $80 million, which escalated to $93 million, with $10 million for development costs and $3 million for the delay of the production start date. Sources close to the director insist that the budget was $93 million from the beginning. The studio also sought for American Gangster to be produced in Toronto rather than New York City to save money, but Fuqua resisted the re-location. The studio's parent company General Electric received tax credits in New York City, so production was moved to the city. The move,
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however, inflated the budget to $98 million. Fuqua's camp insisted that it was seeking ways to reduce the budget, but the studio contended several aspects of the project under him. The director had wanted to film a Vietnam sequence in Thailand and to cast notable names such as Ray Liotta and John C. Reilly in minor roles. To add to the studio's budgetary concerns, Fuqua was rewriting the script during the preproduction process. The director also did not have a shot-list, final locations, and supporting actors signed to initiate production.
[9]

Fuqua was fired on October 1, 2004, four weeks before principal photography would begin. studio cited creative differences for the director's departure.
[10]

[9]

The
[9]

After Fuqua's departure, the studio met

with Peter Berg to take over directing the film, and Denzel Washington had approved of the choice. Due to the search potentially escalating a budget already in the US$80 million range and the difficulty in recouping the amount based on the film's subject matter, Universal canceled production of American Gangster, citing time constraints and creative elements for its reason. The cancellation cost the studio $30 million, of which $20 million went to Washington and $5 million went to del Toro due to their pay or play contracts. Entertainment Weekly reported that the sources close to the director that Fuqua's ambition to produce the film was primarily based on the prospect of an African-American director and an African-American actor leading a big-budget film that would potentially be nominated for Oscars.
[9] [11]

In March 2005, American Gangster was revived as Universal and Imagine entered negotiations with Terry George to revise Zaillian's script and direct the film, which was to be financed with a target budget of US $50 million.
[12]

The following May, Don Cheadle was approached to replace Washington as


[13]

Frank Lucas, though an offer would be held off until George completed his revision of the script. Producer Brian Grazer and Imagine executive Jim Whitaker decided against pursuing George's attempt and to return to Zaillian's vision. In February 2006, Ridley Scott entered talks with the studio to take over American Gangster from George, returning to Zaillian's draft as the film's basis. Washington returned to his role as Lucas, and Russell Crowe was attached to star as Roberts.
[2] [14]

[edit] Production
[edit] Writing
Scott had discussed the script with actor Russell Crowe as they worked on A Good Year (2006) in France, and then they sought to take on the project. The director reviewed Zaillian's script, Terry George's rewrite, and a revision by Richard Price during the project's incarnation with director Antoine Fuqua. Scott preferred Zaillian's approach and chose to follow it. In realizing the project, the director encountered a challenge in the script since the characters Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts do not encounter each other until twenty minutes before the end of the film. The director sought to flesh out the
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private universes of the characters that would evolve and have scenes cut between the two characters to provide a balance. Elements like Frank Lucas's interaction with his family and Richie Roberts's dysfunctional marriage were written to add to the characters' backgrounds.
[15]

[edit] Casting

Denzel Washington, left, and Russell Crowe, right, both met the real-life figures that they portrayed for American Gangster to capture their voices and mannerisms. Scott chose to direct American Gangster based on the paradoxical values of Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts. The film focuses a bit on the comparatively ethical business practices of the "wicked gangster" and the womanizing and failed marriage of the "do-gooder" police detective. Washington, who was not normally a fan of gangster films, chose to portray Lucas when he saw "the arc of the character" had ended with prices that Lucas paid for his actions.
[2] [3]

Crowe was drawn to the project based on his


[16]

previous work with the director on A Good Year and Gladiator.

Production was slated in summer

2006. To prepare for their roles, the actors met their real-life counterparts. Washington acquired Lucas's Southern accent, and Crowe practiced to match Roberts's manner of speaking and body language, requesting tape recordings of Roberts to assist in his preparation.
[14] [3]

The following March, the

studio rehired Zaillian to rewrite the script for American Gangster. It was rumored that Washington got paid another $20 million for when the project was greenlit again, that rumor proved to be false. According to Variety, he only signed on for his gross.
[17]

[edit] Filming
Director Ridley Scott produced television commercials from the 1960s to the 1980s, which entailed visits to New York City in the same time period in which the film's story took place. The director sought to downplay a "Beatles" atmosphere to the film and to instead create a shabbier atmosphere. Scott
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American Gangster (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

described his perspective of the setting, "Harlem was really, really shabby, beautiful brownstones falling apart." Production and costume design was emphasized, transforming the location into the rundown streets of upper Manhattan from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Denzel Washington, as Frank Lucas, went through 64 different costume changes.
[18] [15]

The director filmed American Gangster in 180 locations, an unusually high number for production, throughout New York's five boroughs. Approximately 50 to 60 locations were set in Harlem alone. The director also found several interiors that had been untouched since the 1940s and despite sanitary concerns, chose to film scenes in these locations. All the locations in the film were authentic, with the exception of Frank Lucas's coffee shop, built as a set at the northeast corner of 122nd St and Lenox Avenue. Scott found filming in Harlem to be difficult, describing it as "an area of wide-avenued boulevards" whose concrete pavement and lack of trees provided poor opportunities for shooting angles.
[15]

[edit] Release
[edit] Box office performance
Over two weeks before the release of American Gangster, a screener for the film leaked online. film debuted in the United States and Canada on November 2, 2007 in 3,054 theaters. weekend in the United States and Canada, American Gangster grossed $43,565,115,
[22] [20] [21] [19]

The

In its opening

placing first in

the weekend box office. Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo reported that the film is the first crime saga to gross over $30 million its opening weekend and the film also had the best opening weekend for Denzel Washington as well as Russell Crowe. As of January 6, 2008, American Gangster is estimated to have grossed $129,496,000 in the United States and $63,232,494 in other territories for a worldwide total of $192,728,494.
[21] [23]

[edit] Critical reception


The film received generally favorable reviews from critics. At the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, 79% of 182 reviewers approved of American Gangster.
[24]

On the similar site Metacritic, 37


[25]

accumulated reviews gave the film an average score of 76 out of 100.

American Gangster has been observed as a candidate for the Oscars based on the film's style and the performance of the actors, including the possibility of an Academy Award for Best Director for Ridley Scott.
[26]

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The subject of the movie, Frank Lucas, has admitted that the film is only 20% accurate. [edit] Top ten lists The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2007.
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[27]

[28]

2nd - Carrie Rickey, The Philadelphia Inquirer 5th - Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post 6th - David Germain, Associated Press
[30] [29]

6th - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone 7th - Lou Lumenick, New York Post 8th - Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald

[edit] Awards
[edit] Wins
q

Satellite Awards r Best Editing

[edit] Nominations
q

Broadcast Film Critics Association r Best Film r Best Original Song ("Do You Feel Me") Golden Globe Awards r Best Motion Picture - Drama r Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama (Denzel Washington) r Best Director - Motion Picture (Ridley Scott) Satellite Awards r Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama (Denzel Washington) r Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Drama (Ruby Dee) r Best Original Song ("Do You Feel Me") Screen Actors Guild (SAG)

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r r

Outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role (Ruby Dee) Outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture

[edit] Soundtrack
American Gangster Soundtrack by Various Artists Released Recorded Genre Length Label
q

November 6, 2007 AprilMay 2007 Soundtrack 45:29 Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Professional reviews All Music Guide link

Between April and May 2007, composer Marc Streitenfeld recorded the musical score for American Gangster by using an 80-piece orchestra recorded in sections as well as acoustic pre-records, performed by Streitenfeld himself.
[31]

The official soundtrack for American Gangster was released by Def Jam
[32]

Recordings and has songs by artists including Bobby Womack, The Staple Singers and Sam & Dave.

Denzel Washington originally pressed for film producer Brian Grazer to have Jay-Z compile a soundtrack for the film, but Grazer and director Ridley Scott resisted because they wanted an authentic 1970s feel to the film. An older Jay-Z song, "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)", was included in the film's trailer. Instead of directly recording for the film, Jay-Z released an album inspired by the film, similarly titled American Gangster, in conjunction with the release of the film. [edit] Track listing 1. "Do You Feel Me" 3:56 r Performed by Anthony Hamilton 2. "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" 3:46 r Performed by Lowell Fulson 3. "No Shoes" 2:24 r Performed by John Lee Hooker 4. "Across 110th Street" 3:47 r Performed by Bobby Womack
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[32]

American Gangster (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

5. "Stone Cold" 4:06 r Performed by Anthony Hamilton 6. "Hold On I'm Comin'" 2:31 r Performed by Sam & Dave 7. "I'll Take You There" 4:34 r Performed by The Staple Singers 8. "Can't Truss It" 4:39 r Performed by Public Enemy 9. "Checkin' Up on My Baby" 2:12 r Performed by Hank Shocklee 10. "Club Jam" 3:10 r Performed by Hank Shocklee 11. "Railroad" 2:20 r Performed by Hank Shocklee 12. "Nicky Barnes" 3:11 r Performed by Hank Shocklee 13. "Hundred Percent Pur" 2:13 r Performed by Marc Streitenfeld 14. "Frank Lucas" 2:40 r Performed by Marc Streitenfeld

[edit] DVD and HD DVD release


The film will be released on DVD and HD DVD February 19, 2008.

[edit] Inspiration
Main article: American Gangster (album) The film inspired the rapper Jay-Z to create a concept album, also titled American Gangster. Jay-Z had been shown the film at an early screening, which had "tremendous resonance" to him. The rapper recorded tracks that were prompted by specific scenes in the film. The album American Gangster is a rarity among inspired-by albums because only one artist is recording it, especially a major artist that had no role in the film. The New York Times speculated that the album's release in conjunction with the film would attract young moviegoers and help Universal Pictures generate profits to recover from the film's troubled development history.
[32]

[edit] References
1. ^ Kelly, Kate. "Hollywood Tests a Dynamic Duo" (subscription required), The Wall Street
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Journal, 2007-01-08. Retrieved on 2007-04-30. 2. ^


abc abc

Fleming, Michael. "'Gangster' redux", Variety, 2006-02-13. Retrieved on 2007-04-30.

3. ^ Kleinknecht, William. "FROM FOES TO FRIENDS AND NOW ON TO FAME", The Star-Ledger, 2006-10-05. 4. ^ Fleming, Michael. "U is re-Imagined", Variety, 2003-11-05. Retrieved on 2007-04-30. 5. ^ Leland, John. "Gross National Product", The New York Times, 2006-10-29. 6. ^ Snyder, Gabriel; Michael Fleming. "'Tru Blu' has liftoff at Imagine", Variety, 2004-03-15. Retrieved on 2007-04-30. 7. ^ Fleming, Michael. "Del Toro's 'Tru' calling", Variety, 2004-05-23. Retrieved on 2007-04-30. 8. ^ "Ramirez Joining Fuqua's American Gangster", ComingSoon.net, 2004-09-13. Retrieved on 2007-04-30. 9. ^ Rebecca Ascher-Walsh; Jeff Jensen. "'Gangster' Wrap", Entertainment Weekly, 2004-1022. Retrieved on 2007-11-03. 10. ^ Fleming, Michael. "Fuqua ankles 'Gangster'", Variety, 2004-10-03. Retrieved on 2007-04-30. 11. ^ Fleming, Michael. "'American Gangster' pic rubbed out by U", Variety, 2004-10-06. Retrieved on 2007-04-30. 12. ^ Fleming, Michael. "U's still high on 'Gangster'", Variety, 2005-03-13. Retrieved on 2007-0430. 13. ^ Fleming, Michael. "Thesp's 'American' dream", Variety, 2005-05-30. Retrieved on 2007-0430. 14. ^ Fleming, Michael. "U gets going on 'Gangster'", Variety, 2006-03-23. Retrieved on 2007-0430. 15. ^ Edward Douglas. "Ridley Scott's American Gangster", ComingSoon.net, 2007-10-25. Retrieved on 2007-11-03. 16. ^ Morris, Wesley. "Russell Crowe learns to smile", The Boston Globe, 2006-11-05. 17. ^ Thompson, Anne (2007-10-17). American Gangster: A Grazer Tale. Thompson on Hollywood. Retrieved on 2007-11-04. Denzel Washington had already gotten paid his upfront guarantee payor-play, so he signed on just for his gross. 18. ^ Schwartz, Robert. "'Gangster' puts hit on gentrification", Variety, 2007-04-24. Retrieved on 2007-04-30. 19. ^ "American Gangster Leaked Online a Whole Week Early!", New York, 2007-10-24. Retrieved on 2007-10-24. 20. ^ Pamela McClintock; Dave McNary. "Buzz builds for fall box office", Variety, 2007-11-01. Retrieved on 2007-11-02. 21. ^
ab abc ab abcd ab

American Gangster (2007). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2007-11-12.

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22. ^ "Crime pays at box office for 'American Gangster'", Reuters, 2007-11-04. Retrieved on 200711-04. 23. ^ Brandon Gray (2007-11-05). 'American Gangster' No. 1 with a Bullet. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2007-11-06. 24. ^ American Gangster. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2007-11-12. 25. ^ American Gangster (2007): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2007-11-12. 26. ^ Paul Harris. "Why drug lord fascinates US", Guardian Unlimited, 2007-09-30. Retrieved on 2007-11-03. 27. ^ http://www.sohh.com/articles/article.php/12929 28. ^ Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2008-01-05. 29. ^ David Germain; Christy Lemire (2007-12-27). 'No Country for Old Men' earns nod from AP critics. Associated Press, via Columbia Daily Tribune. Retrieved on 2007-12-31. 30. ^ Travers, Peter, (December 19, 2007) "Peter Travers' Best and Worst Movies of 2007" Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-12-20 31. ^ "Marc Streitenfeld scores Ridley Scott's American Gangster", SoundtrackNet, 2007-05-15. Retrieved on 2007-05-20. 32. ^ David M. Halbinger. "For Jay-Z, Inspiration Arrives in a Movie", The New York Times, 2007-09-20. Retrieved on 2007-11-03.
abc

[edit] Bibliography
q q

Leland, John. "Gross National Product", The New York Times, 2006-10-29. Collins, Max Allan (October 2007). American Gangster (Mass Market Paperback), Novelization of the film, Forge Books. ISBN 0765359014.

[edit] External links


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Official site American Gangster at the Internet Movie Database American Gangster at Rotten Tomatoes American Gangster at Metacritic American Gangster at Box Office Mojo American Gangster at All Movie Guide The Return of Superfly Entertainment Weekly interview with Denzel Washington & Russell Crowe American Gangster Production Notes Frank Lucas' son clears up the controversy surrounding American Gangster

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Preceded by Saw IV

Box office number-one films of 2007 (USA) November 4, 2007

Succeeded by Bee Movie

vde

Films directed by Ridley Scott


Boy and Bicycle The Duellists Alien Blade Runner 1984 (television commercial) Legend Someone to Watch Over Me Black Rain Thelma & Louise 1492: Conquest of Paradise White Squall G.I. Jane Gladiator Hannibal Black Hawk Down Matchstick Men Kingdom of Heaven All the Invisible Children A Good Year American Gangster Body of Lies

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Gangster_(film)" Categories: 2007 films | American films | Crime drama films | Drug-related films | English-language films | Films directed by Ridley Scott | Films set in New York City | Films set in the 1970s | Gangster films | Hood films | True crime films | Universal Pictures films
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