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'American Hustle': A Stylish Gangster Thriller

Movie American Hustle


If you have not seen the 2013 David O. Russell film American Hustle, rent the DVD, watch online or buy the DVD. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and was the recipient of three Golden Globe awards. It won for Best Motion Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. The film received seven Golden Globe Award nominations and captured three.The film did not win any Academy Awards in any category it was nominated in but it did take top honors at the 20th Screen Actors Guild Awards. The film won for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The cast of American Hustle accepting award
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The film was produced by Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell.

The all star cast features, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K. and a cameo by Robert DeNiro who is uncredited in the film. The music for the film was done by Danny Elfman and the film editing was by the creative team of Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, and Alan Baumgarten,

Even though Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence captured best acting awards for their brilliant performances, Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale shined in their roles. Christian Bale portrayed con man Irving Rosenfeld. Cooper portrayed the hungry and unstable FBI agent Richard DiMaso based on real life agent Anthony Amoroso. Christian Bale gained over thirty pounds for the role of Irving Rosenfeld, based on the real life con man Melvin Weinberg. Jeremy Renner put in a realistic portrayal of Camden Mayor Carmine Polito based on the real life Angelo Errichetti. In an uncredited cameo, Robert DeNiro appears in the film as the Arabic talking mobster Victor Tellegio based on real life gangster Vincent Alo.

The stylish film with a pulsating 70’s soundtrack follows the con artist team of Irving Rosenfeld and his sexy sidekick Sydney Prosser AKA Lady Edith Greensly based on the real life English woman Evelyn Knight and portrayed by Amy Adams. Jennifer Lawrence portrayed Rosalyn Rosenfeld based on the real life wife of Melvin Weinberg, Cynthia Marie Weinberg.

The plot is loosely based on a true story which took place in the 1970’s. Back in the 70’s the FBI ran an operation called ABSACM. ABSCAM short for Arab Scam was an FBI operation that began as an investigation of trafficking in stolen property, but later included political corruption. A book called “The Sting Man,” written by Bob Greene tells the real story of Melvin Weinberg.The real life Senator caught in the ABSCAM scandal was not mentioned by name in the film but in reality, the Senator was Harrison A. Williams, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

In the film, Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser get pinched in a loan scam by FBI Agent Richard DiMaso. They are both promised they would be released if they take down corrupt politicians. Reluctantly, Irving agrees and has a friend pretending to be a wealthy Arab Sheik who is used to set up Camden, New Jersey Mayor Carmine Polito. Polito who was campaigning to make Atlantic City a gambling Mecca, finds himself set up in a sting operation. As the plot evolves, a key scene involved a meeting between the mayor, the sheik and right hand man to gangster Myer Lansky, the aging mobster Victor Tellegio. Robert DeNiro makes a surprise cameo as the old mobster and does not appear in the credits or in the trailer for the film.

There are several twists and turns throughout the movie which engage the viewer and the plot never gets boring or disappoints.

The film with a rumored estimated budget of $40 million has since its opening release, earned over $150 million domestically and over $100 million internationally with a combined box office of over $250 million.

The movie garnered critical acclaim from film critics and audiences. The website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 93% rating.

The characters in the film were brought to life with great detail and development. While there might not be a whole lot of shoot em up violence as seen in other gangster films, the characters and plot are so intriguing that the lack of violence for this genre of film is made up for by the brilliant directing and acting. Director David O. Russell is on a roll with three recent critically acclaimed popular hit films which include The Fighter (2010), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), and American Hustle (2013). The films have earned Russell three consecutive Academy Award nominations for Best Director, as well as a Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay nominations. Due out next for Russell is the not yet released comedy romance film Nailed.

David O Russell did let the cast improvise a great deal in American Hustle.One scene in the film which allegedly is completely improvised is the one where a fight takes place between Christian Bale’s character and Jennifer Lawrence’s character.Bale transformed the way he looks dramatically for the film and it is rumored that DeNiro did not recognize Bale on the set even after being formally introduced to him. The "Irving Rosenfeld" character is only very loosely based on real-life con man and convicted swindler Melvin Weinberg, whose story is told in the book "The Sting Man," written with Bob Greene.While American Hustle mentions a U.S. Senator caught in the Abscam sting, it does not name him. The Senator was Harrison A. Williams, (D. N.J.) Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

American Hustle is an enjoyable roller coaster ride which takes the viewer on a voyeuristic journey through the 70’s with a gritty look at the sex, cons, characters and corruption of the era.

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