Tuesday, January 29, 2008


James and I finally watched "American Gangster" last night...very well done, interesting characters but I'm not obsessed. I think after all the films I've seen this awards season, the competition is fierce. It's hard for me to compare anything to "There Will Be Blood" and especially working in this business I find myself more critical of the average film.

Nevertheless, "Gangster" is the story of Frank Lucas, the notorious drug lord in Harlem during the 70s. According to the film, which is based on true events, Lucas was a ruthless man when it came to his money but he also showed a lot of love and respect for his family. Lucas employed 30 family members through his drug business and was finally brought to justice in 1975 but his sentence was dramatically shortened due to his cooperation.

Here's a brief bio:

Frank Lucas was born September 9, 1930, in Lenoir County, North Carolina. He moved to Harlem in 1946, becoming the driver and protégé of gangster Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson. When Johnson died in 1968, Lucas took over his heroin empire and expanded it during the drug-fueled period of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Lucas was particularly known for the “Cadaver Connection.” He cut out he middleman by establishing his own drug connection in the jungles of Vietnam, tipped off by U.S. soldiers then fighting in the war.

Lucas smuggled huge amounts of undiluted heroin from Thailand into the U.S. in the coffins of fallen American servicemen.

He dumped the heroin on the streets of Harlem, undercut the competition and called it Blue Magic. Lucas claims to have grossed $1 million a day.

Lucas relied on a tightly controlled crew called "The Country Boys." He preferred using relatives and men from his hometown in North Carolina because they were less likely to steal from him.

Lucas was arrested in 1975 and was soon facing up to 70 years in prison. He quickly turned into a government informant, most notably against the then-corrupt Special Investigations Unit of the NYPD. Out of 70 SIU officers, 52 were eventually either jailed or indicted.

Lucas is the subject of the biopic American Gangster, released in theaters on November 2, 2007. [source]

I'm a big Law & Order fan and I find all this criminal "goss" fascinating. Another interesting story I recently came across is that of John Dillinger. What led me to Dillinger? Johnny Depp of course!

J. Depp is slated to portray Dillinger in the 2009 film "Public Enemies". Like Lucas, Dillinger was a legendary American gangster during the 1930s. However Dillinger wasn't so interested in making his money through the drug trade. Rather, he enjoyed bank robbing and was considered a modern day 'Robbin Hood' to many during the Depression. His bio is a little more detailed. If you're interested you can check it out here.

Not that I support bank robbing, drug dealing, and cold blooded murder, but when it's presented tastefully as a true story through film, I have to admit find it intriguing.

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