10 Greatest Gangster Movies

Monday, December 6 by Audrey Johnson

The 10 greatest gangster movies are not necessarily the most violent, but they are the most intriguing. A good gangster movie portrays the dedication of its members and the fear inherent in living the gangster lifestyle. Below is a list of the 10 greatest gangster movies.

  1. "Pulp Fiction." This 1994 movie redefined film as many knew it. Jumping from mini-plot to mini-plot, viewers ar taken on a thrilling and sometimes ridiculous ride of being a gang member. Perhaps Tarantino’s finest film, "Pulp Fiction" is a great gangster movie.
  2. "Road to Perdition." After his son witnesses him performing his job, a mob hit-man finds himself on the run from those that now wish him dead. Tom Hanks portrays a man struggling to protect himself, his son and make sense of the fact that the people he loved have betrayed him. Wonderful for showing the emotional side of what it means to be a gangster, "Road to Perdition" is a great movie.
  3. "The Departed." Even without the star-filled roster, Scorsese scored big time with this gangster movie. Set in the today’s world, the film displays the confusion of who is good and who is bad, and just how far the bad guys can penetrate the good world. With enough shocking moments to make your head spin, "The Departed" is one of the greatest gangster movies of all time.
  4. "American Gangster." After following in his mentor’s footsteps, Washington insists on keeping a low profile to avoid attracting police attention. After years of success he’s finally discovered, and swiftly taken down. Wonderful for its depiction of both sides of the story, "American Gangster" is a great gangster movie.
  5. "Scarface." The well-known and classic gangster movie shows the reason why an individual joins a gang: survival. Al Pacino perfectly portrays the desperation of gang members and the desire for a better life that unites them. Its famous line “say hello to my little friend…” has survived the test of time, and so too has this raw depiction of gangster brutality.
  6. "Goodfellas." This film shows how fast an individual can rise to the top, and just how violently he can fall. What makes "Goodfellas" one of the greatest gangster films, though, is its portrayal of the lives of a gangster’s family members and loved ones. Unlike other gangster movies, "Goodfellas" shows how literally everyone near a gangster becomes part of the gang.
  7. "The Usual Suspects." This gangster movie doesn’t present itself as such until the very end. Mysterious and dramatic, throughout the entire film the characters insist that they’re not a gang – and indeed they are not. Only at the end does it become clear just who the real gangster is, and just how brutal he is.
  8. "Once Upon a Time in America." This movie follows two impoverished Jewish boys as they create an empire of crime for themselves in New York. The problem, though, is the inability to escape that empire. Brilliant for its portrayal of the bonds between gangsters and how far members will go to sustain those bonds, "Once Upon a Time in America" is a great gangster movie.
  9. "Donnie Brasco." As this movie shows, it’s not just the bonds between gangsters that are tight. Undercover cop Brasco is able to penetrate the deepest depths of a gang, but must then figure out how to extract himself – without taking his actual gangster friend down with him.
  10. "The Godfather." Considered by many to be the quintessential gangster film, "The Godfather" displays the struggle of a gang to adapt to the generations. Kind when respected, but brutal when not, Brando shows just how much power one person can possess, and what others will do to steal that power.
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