Scarface vs. American Gangster

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When considering candidates for all time greatest gangster movies, one wouldn’t forget to mention such classics as Goodfellas, the Godfather, Reservoir Dogs, and Pulp Fiction. Some may even consider Tony Montana of Scarface to be the hardest, roughest gangster to ever appear on the movie screen. But what characteristics make this so? Is it because he was able to take over a drug cartel by violence to become the single most made man in Miami? Was it his ruthless business tactics, which ultimately led to his death that justify such a bold statement? There exist certain elements of gangster movies that make it memorable. Either it’s recklessly violent like Scarface, or it’s criminally success through close-knit circuits of drug rings and passive business tactics. The Godfather was the perfect example of this; by it’s organized crime through family, and no dirty work done themselves. It is hard for a successful gangster movie to posses both these qualities, for you only see the classics being one or the other because of the nature of the criminal activity. Most drug kingpins and mob bosses, however, usually share similar characteristics in the way they make moves and conduct business. If the boss happens to be addicted to the product he’s distributing, he often results to more violent, aggressive forms of business tactics, as demonstrated by Tony Montana’s addiction to cocaine in Scarface. The 2007 film American Gangster is a new look of a passive drug lord from the 60s, which is based on true events. Many have attempted to compare the two movies, saying American Gangster is the “black man’s Scarface”. With many sides of the spectrum to address, it is easy to see the similarities of these movies, as well as the differences.

American Gangster was directed by Ridley Scott, produced by Brian Grazer and written by Steven Zaillian. The main character Frank Lucas is based off of a real-life drug kingpin, who is played by Denzel Washington. Lucas takes over the drug...
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