10 Best Irish Mafia Movies

Tuesday, March 22 by William Gish

You like your criminals bleeding green, pissing Guinness and eating a steady diet of catholic guilt, so you turn to the 10 best Irish mafia movies. Well done, lad. Here you will find some of the best crime films of our time, thrilling pictures with complex depictions of violence, morality and religion.

  1. “Angles With Dirty Faces” – This 1938 masterpiece is the original Irish mafia movie and surely one of the genre’s best films. “Angels With Dirty Faces” starts a volatile James Cagney and concerns the ultimate of all Irish moral battles: the church versus a life of violent crime, and the manner in which those two aren’t exactly mutually exclusive.
  2. “On the Water Front” – Marlon Brando’s performance will wow you, but there’s more going on here than generation-defining acting. One of the best Irish mafia films, “On The Water Front” tells a tale of the Irish mob’s infiltration of unions and the influence organized crime had on the fates and fortunes on the American working class.
  3. “The Departed” – Scorsese struck gold with this Irish mafia saga. An operatic film peppered with stellar performances and nail-biting intensity, “The Departed” digs beneath the skin of its characters like a tapeworm and doesn’t let up until the final shot is fired. This cat-and-mouse film details with mafia infiltration of the police and vice-versa.
  4. “Miller’s Crossing” – This early Coen Brothers masterpiece is based on noir novelist Dashiell Hammett’s ground breaking early novel “Red Harvest.” The film tells the tale of prohibition-era Irish gangsters in a manner that is both hushed and menacing.
  5. “State of Grace” – Opening opposite “Goodfellas,” this Irish mob movie didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of finding a broad audience. Despite this initial box office disappointment, “State of Grace” is easily one of the best Irish mafia movies. The film deals with the moral and religious turmoil of Irish criminals and features excellent performances from Sean Penn, Gary Oldman, and Ed Harris.
  6. “Gangs of New York” –“Angels” is the original Irish mafia movie and “Gangs of New York” is a movie about the original Irish gangsters. Though Leonardo DiCaprio comes across like high school actor who’s trying his best to be worthy of standing next to Daniel Day-Lewis, the grandiose scope of the film and Day-Lewis’ jaw-dropping performance makes this one of the best Irish mafia movies of all time. 
  7. “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” – This 70’s crime gem doesn’t laud or glorify the Irish mob as other films on this list do, but rather portrays with stark and very depressing honesty the way in which criminal organizations ruin the lives of well intentioned working class people with no opportunity for societal advancement beyond crime.
  8. “The Road to Perdition”Sam Mendes turned his attention to Chicago’s Irish mafia circa 1930 in this stately and elegiac film. The film concerns the nature of love and relationships, particularly those between father and son, and the manner in which familial duty and desire often conflict with disastrous consequences.
  9. “The Public Enemy” – “Public Enemey” was James Cagney’s first film. The film is about organized crime and the American mafia underworld in a very board sense. It’s a great movie, and a number of colorful Irish characters drift in and out of its narrative. 
  10. “The Town” – “The Town” concerns small time Boston Irish hoods. For its empathetic portrait of working class depression, anger, alcoholism and violence and the mob’s role in all of that, it is one of the best Irish mafia movies.  
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