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American Gangster (2007)

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An outcast New York City cop is charged with bringing down Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, whose real life inspired this partly biographical film.



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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 12 wins & 35 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lou Toback
Jimmy Zee
Skyler Fortgang ...
Michael Roberts


Following the death of his employer and mentor, Bumpy Johnson, Frank Lucas establishes himself as the number one importer of heroin in the Harlem district of Manhattan. He does so by buying heroin directly from the source in South East Asia and he comes up with a unique way of importing the drugs into the United States. As a result, his product is superior to what is currently available on the street and his prices are lower. His alliance with the New York Mafia ensures his position. It is also the story of a dedicated and honest policeman, Richie Roberts, who heads up a joint narcotics task force with the Federal government. Based on a true story. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


When Hoodlum Bumpy influences American Gangster Frank Lucas See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, pervasive drug content and language, nudity and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

2 November 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Return of Superfly  »


Box Office


$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$43,565,135, 4 November 2007, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (Unrated Edition)

Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Clarence Williams III: uncredited as Ellsworth 'Bumpy' Johnson. Williams was in another Harlem crime drama, Hoodlum (1997), which was about 'Bumpy' Johnson. In that, he played gangster 'Bub' Hewlett. See more »


In 1968, when Richie is walking with his wife and son, a 747 flies over the park. Boeing 747s started commercial service in 1970. See more »


[first lines]
Bumpy Johnson: Happy Thanksgiving!
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the closing credits, Frank Lucas approaches the camera and fires one shot from a pistol directly at the audience. See more »


Referenced in Wild Card (2015) See more »


I'll Take You There
Written by Al Bell (as Alvertis Isbell)
Published by Irving Music, Inc.
Performed by The Staple Singers
Courtesy of Stax Records/Concord Music Group, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Keeps The Viewer Involved And Interested....Well Done.
26 October 2007 | by See all my reviews

The story about Frank Lucas is one that proves fact is more interesting than fiction. The fact that such a character really did exist yet I do not remember it certainly intrigues me. I guess I was just too young at the time it broke. Now approaching my later forties finds me longing to research it further after seeing this movie.

I get the feeling Ridley Scott was amazed a person such as Frank Lucas was actually able to do what he did and live to tell about it. I certainly share that amazement. The care in which he tells the story serves it well. Though it's basically a gangster movie it's not particularly graphic in violence except in a few scenes. Even Denzel's and Russel's portrayals of the two central characters are not quite as dark as the usual more stereotypical gangster/cop persona...Still there is a sense of doom and danger ever present as the viewer knows neither law enforcement, government, or mafia will let this man's drug empire go on.

To sum it up I believe this is an excellent telling of a true crime story. It's intriguing, entertaining, and certainly serves as a cautionary reminder to remain vigilant in combating drugs.

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