With the release of Black Mass documenting the life of James “Whitey” Bulger and the news that Scarface is due for a remake starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Tony Montana, I got a little nostalgic and decided to take a trip down memory lane and look back at the absolute best of the classic gangster flicks.
Of course it is impossible to categorize these in order of which is best since they are all amazing in their own right and no two gangster flick fanatics will rank them in the same order. I haven’t listed these in any order of quality, but if you have a problem with the way I have presented them, maybe you come on over the 9Stein HQ and I’ll introduce you to my little friend and we can have a talk? Capiche?
9 Greatest Gangster Flicks of All Time
1. Scarface – Nobody can deny that of all the gangsters presented in various movies Tony Montana is the badass of all badasses. In some flicks the edge of taken off the brutal violence and sheer ruthlessness of the mob and their exploits. Not in Scarface! Tony Montana doesn’t give a sh*t and doesn’t think twice about killing any schmuck who gets in his way. This is a classic for a reason.
2. Carlito’s Way – Carlito’s way manages to tell the story of a ruthless gangster and make the audience feel they are on his side. This is the tale of a struggle for redemption and the tragedy of the life and how it is impossible to escape. Carlito’s Way is the most emotional of the gangster flicks, but is an absolute classic that can be watched again and again.
3. Donnie Brasco – Donnie Brasco tells the story of an undercover FBI agent torn between his loyalty to his job and his growing love and respect for the mob he has infiltrated. With some masterful performances by Johnny Depp, Al Pacino and Michael Madsen,you can feel you are in Depp’s torn world with him, one moment away from being busted and killed, one step away from crossing a line he can never come back from. Donnie Brasco is about as intense as it gets!
4. HEAT – Heat is not your traditional movie about the mob. It’s an action packed movie about a different kind of gangster – a group of professional bank robbers led by none other than Robert De Niro himself. Heat is violent, thrilling and will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Who can forget the final scene and the gesture of respect between two foes who have come to the end of the game they’ve been playing? With De Niro versus Pacino, big guns and lots of adrenaline, HEAT deserves its place on this list without any shadow of a doubt.
5. Casino – Casino tracks the mobs attempt to move in Las Vegas and take over the gambling scene. Starring Robert DiNeo and Jo Pesci among others, this is the tragic tale of how a rogue woman can ruin everything and how someone getting too big for their boots can ultimately destroy the best laid plans. Pesci delivers an epic, brutal performance and there are several scenes in this movie that will leave a harrowing memory embedded in the mind of viewers forevermore (Pen stabbing anyone? How about baseball bats in the corn fields?) Casino always has been a classic gangster flick, and it always will be!
6. American Gangster – Frank Lucas rises from the mean streets of Harlem to become one of the richest heroin dealers in America. Based on a true story, this is without a doubt one of the greatest gangster flicks of all time. As far as this list goes American Gangster is the new kid on the block but with masterful performances by Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, there is no doubt that American Gangster will go down as one of the all time classics. Absolutely brutal, riveting and captures the reality of “the street life” with near perfection.
7. Blow – Cocaine, Colombia, vast amounts of money and beautiful women, who could ask for more? Blow was an instant cinematic classic when it was released and still has a cult following of would be G’s who watch it at least annually today. Johnny Depp delivers another masterclass performance showing how a small town boy gets in way over his head, dealing with one of the most brutal cartel figures of all time – Pablo Escobar and his Medellin Cartel. You may have guessed if you haven’t seen it already, but this one doesn’t end well for all parties involved!
8.The Godfather Trilogy – The Godfather Trilogy movies are widely considered the gangster flicks of all gangster flicks, and with good reason. An epic three-part series documents the rise and fall of the Carleone family in a classic rags to riches tale with a tragic ending. Starring De Niro, Pacino and Marlin Brando, the Godfather embodies the life probably more than any other mob movie ever has or ever will. A cinematic masterpiece with an all star cast, serious style and a plot that will probably never be topped, The Godfather trilogy is about as gangster as it gets!
9 .Goodfellas – Goodfellas is a mob movie with a unique flavour. Documenting the true life story of Henry Hill, a New York mobster who rose through the ranks before turning FBI informant and entering the witness protection program. Goodfellas takes us on a roller-coaster ride through the rise and fall, a love triangle, paranoia, prison, murder and betrayal. You can tell from the movie that Hill was genuinely a crazy guy who loved what he did with a passion. Starring Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Jo Pesci and featuring some of the best suits in any movie ever made, Goodfellas is last on this list, but certainly not least!