Everybody has a soft spot for films that feature powerful mafias against the backdrop of drama intermingled with violence. Fortunately, there has been a constant supply of great gangster movies since the 30’s and 40’s. And for that, we can be truly grateful!
Not only are gangster movies gripping, but they can also be strangely perplexing. What’s common between most of them is that in the end it’s made clear that the path of violence might not be the best path to walk.
We combed through extensive movie archives to present to you our list of must-watch gangster movies. If you think we omitted one of your favourites, do let us know in the comments below!
Featuring Tom Hardy in a dual role, Legend is a somewhat underrated crime drama based on the Kray Twins who terrorized London in the 60’s.
Ronald and Reginald Kray rise from the streets as amateur boxers to become one of the most feared gangsters in London. During their ascent, they confront troublesome policemen and dangerous enemies who would give anything to bring them down.
It’s dubious whether or not Legend is satisfyingly consistent with the real-life Kray brothers. But, for those looking for a phenomenal thriller experience, rest assured the movie offers 100% of it. And, we truly love Hardy’s variation of his accent for each Kray brother.
The Godfather (1972)
Hardly any movie has reached so close to perfection as the Godfather of 1972. Vito Corleone, the patriarch of one of the biggest crime dynasties in New York, transfers his powers and control to his youngest son. Though initially reluctant, the young man goes on to become a reckless mafia boss.
Even after 50 years of its release, the film still feels very fresh and its glory continues to rise. Thanks to Marlon Brando, modern audiences who watch the film will be introduced to the distinct style and flair of early-generation actors.
The Bronx Tale (1993)
Robert De Niro’s directorial debut, The Bronx Tale, is a cohesive crime drama that includes aspects of parenting, values, love, and hate. Troubles start finding a teenage boy who is friends with a local gangster against his father’s will. Situations get out of control after the boy starts dating a local girl.
Interesting and realistic, the plot uncovers the grim realities of violence and racism in America. Love it or hate it, The Bronx Tale has a special league of its own.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Pulp Fiction goes against the norms. One of the most critically-acclaimed and celebrated movies of all time, Pulp Fiction is a storyless story. The reason being that there isn’t actually any base to this great film. It’s as if it’s just free-floating – and anything can happen. The film follows the events initiated by two Los Angeles mobsters, a mafia boss’s wife, a fierce boxer, and two small-time criminals independently to one another.
If you want to start watching gangster movies, there is no better introduction than Pulp Fiction. One thing to remember – Pulp Fiction is best enjoyed on television for a good reason.
This is England (2006)
This is England is a straightforward depiction of how a young boy takes his first steps into the world of crime and violence. Set in 1983, the film centres on the events that follow after a young boy becomes a part of a gang of skinheads.
Starring mostly rookie actors, the independent film has acquired the position as one of the most realistic presentations of crime in Britain. One thing should be noted, This is England wasn’t created to join the likes of The Godfather and The Departed, instead, it was an effort to pass on a new style to crime drama portrayal. Mission successful!
Based on the life of Henry Hill, Goodfellas is an absolute masterpiece that astonishes on many levels. A young small-time criminal is determined to rise to the top with assistance from two of his close friends. Dangers constantly loom as he tries to maintain his family life amidst the mess of crime.
In addition to being captivating and powerful in its very nature, the film is also very accurate and consistent with the events of Henry Hill’s life.
Donnie Brasco (1997)
Donnie Brasco, starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp, chronicles the life of Joseph D. Pistone who served as an undercover agent for Operation Donnie Brasco between 1976 and 1981.
Under the alias Donnie Brasco, an FBI undercover agent goes beyond his duty to gather information about the Bonanno crime family of New York. Though it’s a movie with a pure focus on crime and investigation, it also subtly highlights the detective’s dilemma who wonders if it’s right to be on the quest for justice at the cost of innocent life.
Donnie Brasco is a movie superbly made, and there is more to it than just the thrill of a typical crime drama.
The Departed (2006)
The Oscar-winning movie employs the very best and most intelligent movie-making techniques to present us with an unforgettable movie experience.
An undercover agent and a cop make attempts to bring each other down as they are on the mission to infiltrate an Irish Gang operating in South Boston. The film is a remake of Honk Kong film Infernal Affairs with inspirations from the real-life Winter Hill Gang of Boston.
Stupendous direction, flawless acting, and clever scripting are the main ingredients that make The Departed a modern-time epic.
In a sentence, Scarface is a genre-defining film. A loose remake of the movie of the same name released in 1932, the film revolves around a Cuban refugee who arrives in Miami with the intent to rule the city. With nothing to start with, he goes on to build a huge drug empire from scratch – based on the unlimited strength of his crime business. As his greed for money and power escalates, his empire’s stability is threatened.
Scarface translates crime and criminal ambitions onto the screen in an almost immaculate manner. What’s more, the dialogues are clap-worthy.
The Godfather II (1974)
The Godfather wasn’t an easy sequel to make, given the bar set by the first part. However, with The Godfather II, the makers proved that the predecessor only inspired the second one to repeat the glory. And it succeeded in a big way.
The second part picks up from where the first one ended. Taking over the crime dynasty of his father, the youngest son of Vito Corleone, Michael, attempts to expand the family crime business. The film focuses on how Michael steers through the challenges in his path of crime while also exploring the early life of Vito Corleone.
Even though the running time is almost double that of an average movie, there is no dearth of iconic scenes and memorable dialogues. The Godfather II has everything to confiscate all your attention.
So there we have it, our 10 must-watch picks for 10 different gangster movies. Of course, there are many, many more that we haven’t included on this list.
But what about you guys? What do you think of our picks? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!