American Gangster (film)

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American Gangster is a 2007 crime film about a detective in 1970s America who works to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas, a heroin kingpin from Manhattan, who is smuggling the drug into the country from the Far East.

Directed by Ridley Scott. Written by Steven Zaillian.
There are two sides to the American dream (taglines)

Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson[edit]

  • This is the problem. This is what’s wrong with America. It’s gotten so big you can’t find your way.
  • That's the way it is now: You can’t find the heart of anything to stick the knife.
  • Forget it, Frank. There's no one in charge.

Frank Lucas[edit]

  • It’s chaos. Every gorilla for himself.
  • The man I worked for, he had one of the biggest companies in New York City- he ran it for more than fifty years. Fifteen years, eight months, nine days- I was with him every day. I looked after him, took care of him, protected him... I learned from him. Bumpy was rich, but he wasn't white man rich, you see he wasn't wealthy. He didn’t own his own company. He thought he did, but he didn’t. He just managed it. White man owned it so they owned him. Nobody owns me, though. Because I own my company. And my company sells a product that’s better than the competition at a price that’s lower than the competition.
  • The most important thing in business is honesty, integrity, hard work, family, never forgetting where we came from. See, you are what you are in this world, that’s either one of two things: Either you're somebody ... or you’re nobody. I'll be right back
  • That basically the whole picture right there.
  • [To Trupo]'Detective. There are some things you don’t do. This is one of them. Not on a man’s wedding day.
  • Brand names mean something, Nicky. Consumers rely on them to know what they’re getting. They know the company isn’t going to try to fool them with an inferior product. They buy a Ford, they know they’re gonna get a Ford. Not a fuckin' Datsun. Blue Magic that's a brand name; Like Pepsi, that's a brand name. I stand behind it, I guarantee it. They know that even if they don’t know me any more than they know the chairman of General Mills.
  • I do pay them, I pay them all. Cops, accountants, lawyers, who don’t I pay? Everybody. I pay them a fortune, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t satisfy them. The more you pay, the more they expect. You can’t start with them because they can’t stop. It’s like dope. They always want more.
  • This is my home. My country. Frank Lucas don't run from nobody. This is America.

Det. Richie Roberts[edit]

  • The number one fear of people isn't dying, it's public speaking.
  • Pick up the fuckin' glass!
  • For a cop the uppermost thing is the arrest. For a prosecutor, the arrest is nothing without the evidence to convict. We don’t have any real evidence on anyone on this board, so they’re coming down. We’re starting over from the street.
  • His name is Frank Lucas. Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina. Couple of arrests years ago. Gambling, robbery, unlicensed firearm. For fifteen years he was Bumpy Johnson’s collector, bodyguard and driver. He was with him when he died. Five brothers, he’s the oldest, lots of cousins, all living here now, spread out around the boroughs and Jersey. The brothers are Eugene Lucas in Brooklyn, Earl Lucas in Newark, Lester Lucas in Queens, Turner Lucas, the Bronx and Teddy Lucas, in Bergen County. Except for the chinchilla coat, which no one can explain, Frank’s life seems orderly and legitimate. He gets up early. Five a.m. Has breakfast at a Midtown place, usually alone. Then goes to work. Meeting with his accountant, or lawyer, dropping in on one of the several office buildings he owns. Nights, he usually stays home. When he does go out, it’s to a club or dinner - with his new wife - friends, celebrities, sports figures - never O.C. guys. Sundays he takes his mother to church. Then drives out to change the flowers on Bumpy’s grave. Every Sunday, no matter what.
  • Won’t get any informants. Not inside. It’s like a Sicilian family. Like he’s structured his own family the same way to protect himself. Being with Bumpy long as he was, he would have been around Italians a lot. Enough to learn that much.


  • Rossi: They seize it, arrest everybody, whack it up and sell it back to us. Our dope. They been living off it for years, these New York cops. They basically control the market with it. What the fuck has happened to the world, Frank?
  • Toback: What’re you doing counting this in front of everybody? Are you out of your fuckin' mind? Take it into a room. Now.
  • Rivera: I’m a leper. Because I listened to you and turned in a million fucking dollars. You know who’ll work with me after that? Same as you. No one.
  • Tango: What the fuck you gonna do Frank, huh? You gonna shoot me, in front of everybody? Huh? Come on...
  • Trupo: When’s the last time I was in Jersey? Let me think. Never. What’re you doing coming over here without letting anybody know? You don’t know you can get hurt doing that? You got your money. Now, never, ever, come into the city again unannounced. You come in to see a fuckin Broadway show you call ahead first to see if it’s okay with me.
  • Cattano: I always wonder if people know when history’s being made. And what they’re doing at the time. This, for instance, could be a historic moment, and you’re sipping a glass of ice water.
  • Laurie:What are you saying? That because you were “honest” and didn’t take money like every other cop, I left you? You don’t take money for one reason: to buy being dishonest about everything else. And that’s worse than taking money nobody gives a shit about - drug money, gambling money nobody’s gonna miss. I’d rather you took it and been honest with me. Or don’t take it, I don’t care. But don’t then go cheat on me. Don’t cheat on your kid by never being around. Don’t go out and get laid by your snitches and secretaries and strippers. I can tell just by looking, she’s one of them. You think you’re going to heaven because your “honest.” You’re not. You’re going to the same hell as the crooked cops you can’t stand.
  • US Attorney: No fucking nigger has accomplished what the American Mafia hasn’t in a hundred years!
  • Cattano: Success. It's got enemies. You can be successful and have enemies or you can be unsuccessful and have friends.


Campizi: I swear to God, Richie, I didn’t know it was you. I would never slam a door on your hand. Knowingly.
Richie: You bit my fuckin' hand!

Richie: [after finding the money in the back of the car] This isn’t a couple of bucks.
Rivera: It’s the same thing. In principle.
Richie: We’re talking about principle?
Rivera: Richie, a cop who turns in this kind of money says one thing: He’ll turn in cops who take money. We’ll be pariahs.
Richie: We’re fucked either way.
Rivera: Not if we keep it. Only if we don’t. Then we’re fucked, you’re right. But not if we keep it.
Richie: Yes, we are.
Rivera: Goddamn it, did we ask for this? Did we put a gun to someone’s head and say, Give us your money? Cops kill cops they can’t trust. We can’t turn it in.

Chinese General: How would you get it into the States?
Frank: You ain't got to worry about that.
Chinese General: Who do you work for in there?
Frank: You ain't got to worry about that, either.
Chinese General: Who are you really?
Frank: It says right there. Frank Lucas.
Chinese General: I mean, who you represent?
Frank: Me.

Richie: Bandage his head.
Paramedic: Detective ... he’s dead.
Richie: I know he’s fucking dead. Bandage his head, clean him up, put him on a gurney and prop it up so he’s sitting. And open his eyes.

Tobuck: Richie, a detective who doesn’t have the cooperation of his fellow detectives can’t be effective.
Richie: You know why I don’t have it.
Toback: Doesn’t matter.
Richie: No, they’re all on the take and I’m not and it doesn’t matter to anyone. Instead of giving you a medal for turning in money, they bury you.

Frank: What is this?
Huey Lucas: What? This? These are clothes.
Frank: Yeah that.
Huey: This is a very, very, very nice suit.
Frank: That's a very, very, very nice suit, huh?
Huey Lucas: Yeah.
Frank: That's a clown suit. That's a costume, with a big sign on it that says "Arrest me". You understand? You're too loud, you're making too much noise. Listen to me, the loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.

Banker: You got a stockbroker, Frank?
Frank: I deal with enough crooks as it is.

Cattano: How you feel about monopolies?
Frank: What, the game?

Cattano: Monopolies are illegal in this country, Frank, because no one can compete with a monopoly. If they let the dairy farmers do that, half of them would go out of business tomorrow.
Frank: I’m just trying to make a living.
Cattano: Which is your right. Because this is America. But not at the unreasonable expense of others. That’s un-American. You know the price you pay for a gallon of milk doesn’t represent its true cost of production. It’s controlled. Set.
Frank: I set a price I think is fair.
Cattano: It’s very unfair, in fact. Your customers are happy, but what about your fellow dairy farmers? You’re not thinking of them.
Frank: I’m thinking of them as much as they ever thought of me.

Eva: Why would you trust these people, the way they look at you?
Frank: They look at me like it’s Christmas and I’m Santa Claus.

Richie: You going to the fight?
Spearman: I don't like boxing.
Richie: It ain't boxing kid, it's politics.

Trupo: Want to come over here a minute, Frank? [points to the heroin in the trunk of the car] Now what are we gonna do about this?
Frank: We’re gonna shut the trunk and go home to our wives, have some warm apple pie, apple cider.
Trupo: I got a better idea. [Takes out two slabs of heroin] Or would you rather I took it all and threw you and your brother in the fuckin' river?
Frank: I don’t know, would you rather it’s your house that blows up next time?

Richie: What the fuck is a microwave?
Tony: It’s a scientific force like atomic energy. It rearranges the molecules.
Richie: Of what?
Tony: Of anything. Of popcorn. You don’t want to put your head in there.

Trupo: What's this? Don't tell me you're actually gonna arrest Frank Lucas, are you?
Richie: What? Haven't you heard? We're all fucking crazy over here. You know what we do here? Cops... arrest... bad guys. The next time you come across the bridge, you should call me first. Just make sure it's safe.

Richie: INS, FBI, IRS - I can’t get anything out of them. Nothing on his travel, his bank accounts, property holdings - nothing.
Toback: That’s because they all think you’re on the take and you think they are.
Richie: They don’t want this to stop. It employs too many people. Cops, lawyers, judges, probation officers, prison guards. The day dope stops coming into this country, a hundred thousand people lose their jobs.

Frank: I’m watching the news. Where the hell’s everyone going?
Nate: Home. The war’s over.
Frank: Just like that? We’re going to leave the fuckin' country to the communists?
Nate: We been here since 1961, Frank.
Frank: I haven’t!

Trupo: Your husband’s illustrious career is over. Now the Feds are going to come in, they're gonna take everything. I mean they're gonna take it all. But not before I get my gratuity. S where’s the money?
Eva: What are you talking about, what money?.
Trupo: What am I talking about, what money? The getaway money that Frank and every other gangster keeps in his house!
Eva: If you leave now, there’s a chance Frank might not kill you.

Richie: The warrant permits me to search the plane and its cargo.
[Soldiers aim their rifles at Richie])
Captain: But you don’t have my permission.
Richie: I don’t need it.

US Attorney: That was a military transport plane. If there was heroin on board then someone in the military would have to be involved. Which means that even as it fights a war that’s claimed 50,000 Americans lives, the military is smuggling narcotics. That’s how these events are being interpreted by General Easton in that call to me. That someone employed by the this office believes the United States Army is in the drug trafficking business - and is trying to prove it by desecrating the remains of young men who’ve given their lives in the defense of democracy.
Richie: There is dope on that plane-
US Attorney: Shut the fuck up.

US Attorney: Is it any wonder then, because of your actions, the entire federal narcotics program is now in jeopardy of being dismantled as completely and enthusiastically as that fucking transport plane? That’s what you’ve accomplished Mr. Roberts. Single-handedly.
Richie: I had good information the target of my investigation was bringing dope in on that plane.
US Attorney: And that target is?
Richie: Frank Lucas.
US Attorney: Who?
Toback: His name's Frank Lucas.
US Attorney: Who is Frank Lucas? Who does he work for? Which family?
Richie: He’s not Italian. He’s black.
US Attorney: Is that supposed to be some kind of joke? You’re this close to the end of your career in law enforcement, you’re making fucking jokes?
Richie: My investigations indicate that Frank Lucas is above the mafia in the dope business. My investigations also indicate that Frank Lucas buys directly from the source in Southeast Asia, cuts out all the middlemen, and uses US military planes and personnel to transport No. 4 heroin into United States, and he's been doing so on a regular basis since 1969. I have cases against every member of Frank's organization.
US Attorney: Frank's organization? No fucking nigger has ever accomplished what the American Mafia hasn't in 100 years!
Richie:: And you would know that how? Why? 'Cause your head is stuck up your fucking ass?
US Attorney: Hey, Lou, do me a favor. Will you get this fucking kike out of here?
Richie: Kike?
Toback: Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.
Richie: Kike?
Toback: Richie, no.

Frank: I just heard something. I said it couldn’t be true. You didn’t really turn in a million dollars you found in the trunk of a car, did you? Want me to tell you what happened to it? It ended up in cops’ pockets.
Richie: Maybe.
Frank: Maybe? No. It did. All you did was give it to them for nothing in return. Not nothing: You got their contempt. Why’d you do that? What’re you trying to prove, you’re better than them? You’re not better than them. You are them.
Richie: I don’t have the time or interest to listen to this-
Frank:You did it because it was right. That’s all. Why’s that hard to say? The question is would you do it again? That was a long time ago. It’d be very easy to find out. Tell me you want to find out, tell me the address, and a car will be there, the trunk loaded.
Richie: No, thanks.

Frank: Let me ask you something. You think by putting me in jail, you’re going to stop even one junkie from dying? Because you won’t. If it isn’t me, it’ll be someone else. With me or without me, nothing’s going to change.
Richie: Then that’s the way it is.

Frank: Now, I got no problem with you showin' up in court tomorrow with your head blown in half.
Richie: Get in line. That one stretches around the block too.

Richie: I want to know everyone you’ve met for the last twenty years. Everyone you sold to. Every cop you ever paid off. Every one who ever stole from you. Every one you remember.
Frank: Oh, I remember them all. That’s not the problem.
Richie: What is?
Frank: The jail’s aren’t big enough.

Frank: What can you promise me?
Richie: I can promise you you lie about one name- you'll never get out of prison. You lie about one dollar, one offshore account- you'll never get out of prison. (sips coffee) Now you can be rich- in jail- for the rest of your born days... Or be poor outside for some of them. That's what I can promise you.
Frank: What You want,Richie? Jew Gangsters,Mick Gangsters,Italians Gangsters? They been bleeding Harlem dry since They got off the boat.I got no problem giving Them up,You can have Them
Richie: I'll take them too.
Frank: You want the cops? You going after your own kind?
Richie: They're not my kind. They take money from you, they're not my kind. They're not my kind like the Italians are not yours.


  • There are two sides to the American dream.


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