Top Ten Most Interesting Gangster Films of all times.
One of the most interesting genres in filmdom is the gangster movie. A ready mix of violence, human drama, betrayal and redemption never fails to keep a viewer glued to his or her seat. You watch out for hidden angles in the story, analyze the complexities of the human character and you get a glimpse of a world so far removed from ours. With such a cocktail of elements tailor made for high entertainment, it is no wonder that so many gangster films have been made through the years. Here then are ten of the most interesting gangster films of all time.
1. THE GODFATHER
This is the grand daddy of all gangster films. It is one of the finest movies ever made and every gangster movie is measured by how it compares to “The Godfather”. The cast alone should leave you shaking: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall. This Academy Award winning film based on the novel written by Mario Puzo and directed by Francis Ford Coppola practically made legends out of mortals. We all watched as the story surrounding the Corleone family’s past, present and future began to unfold layer after gripping layer, amidst the background of murder and conspiracy. This is a masterpiece of movie making and writing indeed.
2. THE DEPARTED
Not all mobsters are Italians. This riveting film about Irish gangsters finally scored an Oscar for Martin Scorsese and showed us that even the non-Italian mob can kick some serious butt. Jack Nicholson was his usual brilliant, obnoxious self and Leonardo DiCaprio demonstrated why he is probably this generation’s best actor. Corruption, killings, double agents and other gangster staples fill this movie to the brim. The movie is airtight to the last scene when the camera focuses on a big rat symbolic of the movie’s theme.
Based on the true story of Henry Hill – the informer who ratted-out his mob bosses and brought down big wigs in the gangster world – “Goodfellas” chronicles the rise and fall of Henry Hill within the criminal organization and highlights just how much money, violence and deception surround the real mob world. Ray Liotta and Robert de Niro are superb in their respective lead roles in what is again a Martin Scorsese gangster masterpiece. It is Joe Pesci who steals the show, however, with his portrayal of the ultra-violent Tommy DeVito, running away with an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and giving the shortest acceptance speech in the process: “It’s my privilege. Thank you.”
Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci created another mobster masterpiece with “Casino”. These three came together once more in “Casino” to provide another look at the inner workings of the Italian mafia, this time against the backdrop of the Las Vegas hotel gambling scene in the 70s. The cast is as powerful as they come, boasting James Woods, Sharon Stone along with De Niro and Pesci. But the surprise star of the show here was Stone, who landed a dream role playing lost soul Ginger, a woman caught up in a web of drugs, abuse and misplaced ambition.
“Say hello to my little friend!” This classic line from “Scarface” has been used so many times on TV and in other movies that it’s ingrained in all of our minds. Al Pacino’s mob role resume is not confined only to Michael Corleone from “The Godfather”. He’s also Tony Montana, the ill-fated Cuban immigrant mobster embroiled in a world of cocaine and violence, which is a bad mix indeed. Apart from the catchy lines and the powerful performance of Al Pacino, this Brian de Palma film is best remembered for its controversial “chainsaw” scene that displays Hollywood gore at its finest.
6. CARLITO’S WAY
The partnership between Brian de Palma and Al Pacino seems similar to the Scorsese-DeNiro-Pesci connection. These men are premium gangster movie making machines! De Palma and Pacino teamed up in “Carlito’s Way”, where Pacino plays Carlito, a Puerto Rican mob legend who’s trying to turn his life around and make a legitimate living for a change but his past just will not let him go and his street-stubbornness eventually does him in. Sean Penn gives a show-stopping performance as the weasel drug-crazed lawyer Dave Kleinfeld. Penelope Anne Miller and John Leguizamo round out the solid cast of this mobster classic.
7. DONNIE BRASCO
Al Pacino has got the gangster swagger down pat and it doesn’t matter if he’s supposed to be Italian or Latino. “Donnie Brasco” is based on the real-life undercover activities of Joe Pistone. Pacino plays the sad character of Lefty who assists the FBI Agent Pistone, played credibly by Jonny Depp, to penetrate the mob. The movie paints a moving depiction of the life of a mafia soldier, as well as the perils and intricacies of being an undercover agent.
If only there were sub-titles for this movie, it wouldn’t be so darn difficult to keep track of the dialogue. That English groundling accent of some of the characters adds to the charm and grit of this British film. Branded with the Guy Ritchie motley style of action-packed sequences, intriguing characters and a plot that thickens by the minute, this movie is like an Italian gangster film high on crystal meth. Could a film directed by Ritchie, starring Brad Pitt and Jason Statham and with a soundtrack bannered by Massive Attack and Noel Gallagher possibly be boring?
9. PULP FICTION
Quentin Tarantin is Gangster-movie-genius crazy. In what has to be one of the most interesting films in the 1990s, “Pulp Fiction” is a lethal mix of off-beat humor, brutal violence, twisted inter-related plot lines, pop culture consciousness and the oddest of oddball characters. This movie marked the career comeback of John Travolta and has an incredible cast of characters: Uma Thurman, Sam L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Rosanna Arquette, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz and Christopher Walken.
10. CITY OF GOD
Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful city seething with violence. This gripping story about 70s gangster life in the slums of this exquisite city in Brazil is a highly acclaimed international movie that showcases gun fights, killings and such natural acting it almost feels like a documentary at times because many of the “actors” used in the movie were the actual residents of the “City of God” slums of Rio de Janeiro. What’s disturbing is that the movie is based on a true story involving real-life people. All the killing and violence actually did take place in the past. Think about the important socio-economic elements in the movie to expand on the themes of violence.
R-ratings and gangster films go together like Britney Spears and controversy for good reason. Beyond the guns, goons and gore, some of the most finely crafted movies ever made were of this genre. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they do make for great art. If you enjoy reading this article, time for you to learn how to determine a bad movie from a good one, beforehand and how to review a film.
If the God Father was the Top Gangster film of all times, then check out why Titanic became the Top Blockbuster Movie of All Time.