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Genres come and go, but gangster movies never go away. From the black and white era to the 3D, these morally bankrupt murderous mobsters with their own codes of honour have held a fascination for audiences. The guns, the suits, the power struggles, the bonds, the betrayals and, most of all, the unfettered violence have made gangsters and the cinema perfect partners in crime.
Jumping straight to it, here’s 10 more gangster movies and flicks you should watch:
10. White Heat
Name: White Heat
Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo & Edmond O’Brien
Memorable Line: Cody Jarrett: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”
Plot: Cody Jarrett is the sadistic leader of a ruthless gang of thieves. Afflicted by terrible headaches and fiercely devoted to his ‘Ma,’ Cody is a volatile, violent, and eccentric leader. Cody’s top henchman wants to lead the gang and attempts to have an ‘accident’ happen to Cody, while he is running the gang from in jail. But Cody is saved by an undercover cop, who thereby befriends him and infiltrates the gang. Finally, the stage is set for Cody’s ultimate betrayal and downfall, during a big heist at a chemical plant.
9. Carlito’s Way
Name: Carlito’s Way
Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Al Pacino, Sean Penn & Penelope Ann Miller
Memorable Line: Carlito: “Who the fuck are you? I should remember you? What, you think you like me? You ain’t like me motherfucker, you a punk. I’ve been with made people, connected people. Who’ve you been with? Chain snatching, jive-ass, maricon motherfuckers. Why don’t you get out of here and go snatch a purse.”
Plot: Carlito has just gotten out of prison due to technicalities with the help of his sleazy lawyer. After a life spent trafficking heroin he decides not to pursue the life of the streets. He buys into a nightclub and begins saving money to move to the Bahamas, but his presence as a known player makes it inevitable that he get sucked back into his violent former life.
8. Once Upon A Time In America
Name: Once Upon a Time in America
Director: Sergio Leone
Stars: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, James Woods, Burt Young
Memorable Line: Noodles; “I like the stink of the streets. It cleans out my lungs. And it gives me a hard-on.”
Plot: Epic, episodic, tale of the lives of a small group of New York City Jewish gangsters spanning over 40 years. Told mostly in flashbacks and flash-forwards, the movie centers on small-time hood David ‘Noodles’ Aaronson and his lifelong partners in crime; Max, Cockeye and Patsy and their friends from growing up in the rough Jewish neighborhood of New York’s Lower East Side in the 1920s, to the last years of Prohibition in the early 1930s, and then to the late 1960s where an elderly Noodles returns to New York after many years in hiding to look into the past.
7. Rififi (Du Rififi Chez les Hommes)
Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Jean Servais, Carl Möhner, Robert Manuel & Janine Darcey
Memorable Line: Louise: “You’re not the only one that had an unhappy childhood, there are millions like you, and, in my eyes, *they* are the tough ones, not you!”
Plot: Tony Stephanois, just out of prison and angry at his girl Mado’s infidelity, decides to join his pals Jo and Mario in an ambitious crime. With Italian safe expert Cesar, they meticulously plan the burglary of a large jewelry establishment. Not a word is spoken as the crime is carried out. And then things begin to go wrong…
6. Infernal Affairs (“Mou Gaan Dou”)
Name: Infernal Affairs (“Mou Gaan Dou”)
Director: Wai-Keung Lau & Alan Mak
Stars: Andy Lau, Tony Chiu Wai Leung & Anthony Chau-Sang Wong
Memorable Line: Keung: “Remember this, if you see someone doing something but at the same time watching you… then he is a cop.”
Plot: Shawn Yue plays a young police officer who has been sent undercover as a mole in the local mafia. Edison Chen plays a young mafia member who is infiltrating the police force. Years later, their older counterparts, Tony Leung and Andy Lau respectively, race against time to expose the mole within their midsts and destroy him. This is the film that lead to the Departed.
5. City of God (“Cidade de Deus”)
Name: City of God (“Cidade de Deus”)
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Director: Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund
Stars: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino & Matheus Nachtergaele
Memorable Line: Rocket: “What should have been swift revenge turned into an all out war. The City of God was divided. You couldn’t go from one section the other, not even to visit a relative. The cops considered anyone living in the slum a hoodlum. People got used to living in Vietnam, and more and more volunteers signed up to die.”
Plot: Brazil, 1960’s, City of God. The Tender Trio robs motels and gas trucks. Younger kids watch and learn well…too well. 1970’s: Li’l Zé has prospered very well and owns the city. He causes violence and fear as he wipes out rival gangs without mercy. His best friend Bené is the only one to keep him on the good side of sanity. Rocket has watched these two gain power for years, and he wants no part of it. Yet he keeps getting swept up in the madness. All he wants to do is take pictures. 1980’s: Things are out of control between the last two remaining gangs…will it ever end? Welcome to the City of God.
4. Pulp Fiction
Name: Pulp Fiction
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth,
Memorable Line: Jimmie: “I don’t need you to tell me how fucking good my coffee is, okay? I’m the one who buys it. I know how good it is. When Bonnie goes shopping she buys SHIT. Me, I buy the gourmet expensive stuff because when I drink it I want to taste it. But you know what’s on my mind right now? It AIN’T the coffee in my kitchen, it’s the dead nigger in my garage.”
Plot: Jules and Vincent work as hitmen for crime boss Marcellus Wallace. Wallace is currently dealing with Butch Coolidge, a boxer who failed to throw a fight after taking Wallace’s money and is now planning to flee the city, but can’t leave his father’s watch behind. Vincent faces some problems of his own when Wallace asks him to show his wife Mia a good time while he’s away. Some of these people redeem themselves and some don’t, and all meet an end appropriate to their choices.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta & Joe Pesci
Memorable Line: Henry Hill: “[narrating] Anything I wanted was a phone call away. Free cars. The keys to a dozen hideout flats all over the city. I bet twenty, thirty grand over a weekend and then I’d either blow the winnings in a week or go to the sharks to pay back the bookies.”
Plot: The lowly, blue-collar side of New York’s Italian mafia is explored in this crime biopic of wiseguy Henry Hill. As he makes his way from strapping young petty criminal, to big-time thief, to middle-aged cocaine addict and dealer, the film explores in detail the rules and traditions of organized crime. Watching the rise and fall of Hill and his two counterparts, the slick jack-of-all-trades criminal Jimmy Conway and the brutish, intimidating Tommy DeVito, this true story realistically explores the core, blue-collar part of the mob.
Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Al Pacino, Steven Bauer & Michelle Pfeiffer
Memorable Line: Tony Montana “Another Quaalude, and she’ll be mine again.”
Plot: An update of the 1932 film, Scarface (1983) follows gangster Tony Montana and his close friend Manny Ray from their trip on the Cuban Boat Lift for refugees to their arrival in Miami. After killing a powerful Cuban figure, Montana and company gain the ability to leave their refugee camps and roam around the U.S. After unsuccessfully trying to make it legitimately in the country, Montana and Ray resort to selling cocaine to dealers around the world. Tony’s rise is quick, but as he becomes more powerful, his enemies and his own paranoia begin to plague his empire.
1. The Godfather
Name: The Godfather
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, James Caan
Memorable Line: Don Corleone: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
This was the easiest choice for me – the Godfather has to be number 1 because it is unparalleled in this genre (and virtually all others). Vito Corleone is the aging don (head) of the Corleone Mafia Family. His youngest son Michael has returned from WWII just in time to see the wedding of Connie Corleone (Michael’s sister) to Carlo Rizzi. All of Michael’s family is involved with the Mafia, but Michael just wants to live a normal life. Drug dealer Virgil Sollozzo is looking for Mafia Families to offer him protection in exchange for a profit of the drug money. He approaches Don Corleone about it, but, much against the advice of the Don’s lawyer Tom Hagen, the Don is morally against the use of drugs, and turns down the offer. This does not please Sollozzo, who has the Don shot down by some of his hit men. The Don barely survives, which leads his son Michael to begin a violent mob war against Sollozzo and tears the Corleone family apart.
See Also: Vol 1 – 10 Best Gangster Movies
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