The popular film, American Gangster, starred Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas, criminal drug lord in the 70s, who used the caskets of fallen soldiers being returned home from Vietnam to smuggle illegal drugs into the United States.
There was a scene in the movie where Lucas is being approached with a partnering-in-crime business proposal by another crime lord who made mention of the fact that he considered himself "a Renaissance man" and asked Lucas the question: "Are you a Renaissance man?" Not to be judged as anything less than an equal, Lucas countered: "I'm a Renaissance man too!"
Having heard the phrase "Renaissance man" used as a compliment when speaking of the famous playwright William Shakespeare, somehow I just could not make the connection between Lucas and Shakespeare.
I did some additional research thinking perhaps my understanding about the Renaissance was in error. Per The New Lexicon Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language:
- "The Renaissance created a culture which though based in large part on the imitation of the ancients, freed men to prove and enjoy the world in a way not possible under the medieval Church's dispensation. In this release lay the way of development of the modern world."
Aw forget about it! I'll damage my brain trying to connect the dots between Shakespeare and Super Fly. There is no Renaissance connection!! However, there were four other notable persons during that time period who were also referred to as Renaissance men: Francesco Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Francois Rabelais, and Desiderius Erasmus. It was much easier to connect the dots between those men and Shakespeare because they were also prolific writers who made a place for themselves in Renaissance literature.
[OFF THE RECORD and OFF TOPIC: American Gangster was one of Mr. Washington's better performances. Ditto for The Manchurian Candidate. Better. Not best. His best performance was Malcolm X, but he got the Oscars for Training Day and Glory. Whatever!]