The script for American Gangster had been knocking around for years, and people didn’t really want to make it until Ridley Scott came onboard. I think this film is vastly underrated. The rise and fall of a major figure in the underworld has been a stock story since the days of James Cagney, but this feels fresh.
What I like about this film is the ‘big movie’ feel of it, and the great supporting performances. Denzel Washington has been quoted as saying that the film looks exactly like the New York he grew up with in the 1970s, and the film does have a throwback feel to the films of Sidney Lumet made during this era.
Ridley Scott can be very hit and miss, but you always get quality and production value. Alien is a classic, Gladiator too. I have a soft spot for Black Rain and Blade Runner too, but I have to say that this is my favourite Ridley Scott film.
The soundtrack is also a mini treasure. Enjoy.
So, 85 films to go!
Matthew Cooper has written for Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. He was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge and the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize. His first short film starred a then unknown Ewan McGregor and was picked up by Channel Four when Matthew was 19 years old. He’s been a script writer for hire and filmmaker for hire for over 20 years.