Old school gangster films or Mafia movies have a certain undeniable charm. The juxtaposition of seedy and gritty gang life against glitzy backdrops (usually a high-end nightclub or casino) makes for an irresistible story, one that pulls you in and keeps you engaged.
Gangster movies is a well-loved genre, with an expansive number of films categorized in it. There are quite a lot of really great films in the genre, but we have managed to make a list of the ones that you cannot miss if you are a fan of the cinematic arts! The list below is in no particular order – they are all unmissable works of art.
American Gangster (2007)
This Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe starrer is a complete stunner – a fictional account based on the life of Frank Lucas, a gangster from La Grange, North Carolina who was caught smuggling heroin into the United States on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War. Pure crime thriller fun.
Training Day (2001)
Another Denzel Washington starrer (this time paired with Ethan Hawke), ‘Training Day’ is a film that raises a ton of ethical questions for the audience and Hawke’s character Hoyt, who is a rookie cop spending his first day as a Los Angeles narcotics officer working alongside a dirty cop. This one is pure entertainment value.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
This Tarantino classic is an absolute delight to watch. When what was supposed to be a simple jewellery heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant. It stars a stellar ensemble and will keep you engaged from the very first scene to the very last.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
A neo-Western crime thriller film written and directed by the legendary Coen brothers, ‘No Country for Old Men’ is an award-winning movie that follows the story of a war veteran who stumbles upon a huge sum of money, causing a scary hitman to get on his tail.
In a ruthless bid to become a Miami drug lord, Al Pacino’s brooding gangster descends into addiction, obsession, paranoia, and brutality, with grisly consequences for his own empire. Based on a 1929 novel, ‘Scarface’ delivers a gritty and grim story with unrealistic heart and panache.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
This has to be the best Quentin Tarantino film of all time. In the seedy realm of the Underworld, the lives of an assortment of criminals intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption. ‘Pulp Fiction’ is one of the best black comedies and crime films you will ever see so make sure you do see it.
This Robert De Niro starrer is a cinematic masterpiece written and directed by Martin Scorsese. The story follows the rise and fall of two best friends moved by greed, money, power, deception, and love – all against the glittery backdrop of Las Vegas. Sure, the movie will make you want to gamble in a high-end Vegas casino, but you can get that experience by playing online casino games, without ever leaving the comfort of your home.
The Untouchables (1987)
De Niro plays Al Capone, a kingpin running an illicit liquor business in the Prohibition Era, while Kevin Costner and Sean Connery play cops out to catch the bad guys. A truly stunning movie, ‘The Untouchables’ is known for its great costumes and grand sets. An absolute must-watch for fans of Robert De Niro’s gangster films.
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
‘Once Upon a Time In America’ is the crowning achievement of director Sergio Leone, an almost 4-hour-long saga that demands your attention from start to finish. This epic film speaks to the grand illusion of the American Dream, transcending genre trappings and addressing issues that form the fabric of life such as friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and vengeance.
Donnie Brasco (1997)
This absorbing crime drama follows an undercover FBI agent as he infiltrates a New York crime family and rises through the ranks quickly in order to bring it down for good. Johnny Depp and Al Pacino give it their all with top-notch acting and a beautiful on-screen chemistry. Well worth multiple watches, this film.
Did you know that gangsters never call themselves gangster? They like to go by “wiseguys” or “goodfellas”. Martin Scorsese’s ‘GoodFellas’ is an epic crime drama film based on ‘Wiseguy’, a non-fiction book that chronicles the life of Henry Hill, a mafia associate turned police informant. Hill, along with his friends Jimmy and Tommy, rises through the ranks to become a feared gangster in New York, before his ultimate downfall.
The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather II (1974)
If you like crime dramas, do not (and we mean DO NOT) miss ‘The Godfather’ saga, especially the first two films. Legends like Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro have made this mega-quotable film series one of the best ever created in Hollywood. It’s a hauntingly beautiful and tragic tale of familial love, betrayal, revenge, and deception that is brought to life by Francis Ford Coppola’s spectacular direction. Absolute, absolute must-watch.