Gangster Films

Since you brought out the Sopranos, I’m going to bring out The Wire. It’s mean, gritty, and realistic. There’s no Italian Mafia in it, but there are the Ukrainians and the different hood gangs. It’s pretty good stuff.


Do not attempt to eat Ziti with the Wire. While watching the Wire, you must eat potato chips and other meger foods from the inner city.

Bullhajj advises to go with Sopranos for your gangster watching needs.

Thanks for all the suggestions! I’ve seen the first 4 seasons of the Sopranos. It’s probably with re-watching though to finish off the last two.

I agree Miller’s Crossing is indeed great. It’s interesting how you can see the pecking order of each marginalized group in society (even in the underworld).

At the top you have the Irish, in control of the city. The up and coming Italian immigrants are next. Below them are the Jews, Verna then Bernie. Finally, the homosexuals, Bernie and Mink.

It’s an interesting layer of commentary and dynamic to an already intriguing premise.

Someone already mentioned GoodFellas, but where’s the love for Casino? It’s not bad; certainly better than Godfather III.

For something slightly different to the usual Mafia and London Rub-a-Duck gangster flicks, you should try to get hold of I Went Down. The General, also starring Brendan Gleeson isn’t a bad film either. Neither of those present a gangster/crime lifestyle that’s quite as glamourous as the US/British recommendations but they’re good films in their own right.

The General is terrific!

“Which sister were you with last night, Cahill?”


Election & Election II.

I totally forgot about The General. I’ll third that recommendation. As previously alluded to, it’s not a gangster flick, per se, but as far as films about gangsters go, it’s quite good. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, but I remember it as being somewhat droll, as well.

Road to Perdition wasn’t terrible, either.

Scarface doesn’t hold up as well as the Godfather. De Palma does a good a job directing as he could given the disjointed, overwrought, and lengthy script. There’s a montage that is very, very, 1983 which made me chuckle. Many elements in the film didn’t seem to belong, other than they wanted the film to be a gangster epic. There was too much talking about the business and not enough showing it. Pacino’s performance makes the movie worth it though.

Oh, and of course, famous, “Say hello to my little friend” is an awesome line, but given its prevalence in pop culture, I thought the film would savor it more. Instead he spits it out in the blink of an eye so that if you weren’t paying attention, you’d probably miss the line.

Gangsters with Christian Slater, and Posse came out around the same time too.

Yeah. That’s how I missed Miller’s Crossing when it came out. It got swamped in a wave of mobster movies.

“Boyz in the Hood” is definitely worth seeing, although it’s not entirely about gangsters.

For a classic, check out The FBI Story, starring Jimmy Stewart. It’s focus is more on the law enforcement side, but deals with them getting Dillinger and the Barker gang and the like.

I’d so pick Bugsy Malone over Johnny Dangerously. An all-kid gangster musical! Starring Chachi and Jodie Foster!

Honestly, though, so many great choices on here already I’ll just flesh out a couple:

I’d add Better Tomorrow II to Better Tomorrow; recommend Takeshi Kitano’s Sonatine after you see Brother; point out that, although I haven’t seen 'em, I hear Johnny To’s HK gangster movies (including Election and Election II) are supposed to be the ones to beat; and also recommend Seijun Suzuki’s remarkable yakuza films for Nikkatsu in the early '60s. The critics go nuts for the po-mo Branded to Kill and/or Tokyo Drifter, but I prefer it when SS played his eye for color and staging straight with movies like Youth of the Beast, Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell, Bastards! and Tattooed Life.

Finally, for overlooked american flicks, although not technically gangster films, I think Abraham Polonsky’s Force of Evil from '49 is a great post-noir slice of noir (and always seems to me like a big influence for On The Waterfront) and Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia is like if Charles Bukowski had tried his hand at a crime novel. I mean, slow-mo gunfight to muzak?! I still can’t believe this movie doesn’t get more props than it does.

I figured I might as well necro this thread as any other, but I just saw On the Waterfront (Netflix Watch Instantly version) and loved it. Some other gangster movies from that era tried to capture the desperation that fuels organized crime, but I think this one hits it with a believable, human touch in a genre that seems to thrive on extremes and caricatures. I was ready to hate the priest, but ended up buying the whole schtick. Other than the painfully cheesy final couple minutes, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I almost wish the brother could have played a bigger part leading up to the scene in the back of the car, but it was a gut-punch nonetheless.

Hoodlum, with Laurence Fishburne as Bumpy Johnson.

“The Long Good Friday” - my favourite UK gangster film. Great title too.

Another vote for Miller’s crossing, one of the best Cohen movies.[B]

Verna[/B]: That’s not why you came, either.
Tom Reagan: Tell me why I came.
Verna: [seductively] The oldest reason there is.
Tom Reagan: There are friendlier places to drink.

I have never seen Brother, but it must be very strong if you’re prepared to recommend it over Sonatine or Hanabi…