So following on from last week’s British Films I’ve gone for Gangster Films this week in the 100 Films to See Before You Die, I probably made an error having Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as well as Snatch under the British Film section as I could have used this space to add two further British non-gangster films but hey-ho. Once again, in no particular order.
“Say hello to my little friend!” A line that has now become infamous, Sacrface is one of the most notorious gangster films there is!
A quality film, a proper classic in my opinion, we see the gangs within New York try to unify only for a murder to occur which results in every gang in New York after the Warriors. Will they make it home?
Boyz n the Hood
Okay, so I may be playing a bit fast and loose with “Gangster” film. Boyz n the Hood follows the lives of a few young men who are being brought up in LA, they grow older and some of them do find themselves involved in gangs but the film is about so much more than that as Tre tries hard to achieve success without winding up in a wooden box.
Gangs of New York
There’s a violent underbelly of New York where the Irish reside and are ruled by [XXX], we’ve got Abe hats, fire departments creating fires and more all in the hustle of old school brutal gangsters.
I’ll start at the start when listing this trilogy today, the most notorious and readily quoted gangster epic of our time the Godfather is amazing on every level. A true look at the Sicilian Mafia in America.
The first of two films about the London duo The Krays is probably the most recognisable and reigned supreme in terms of Krays films for many years.
Quinten Tarrantino is renowned for making exceptional films and Reservoir Dogs was certainly well up there as one of the greatest. A bank job that goes wrong is played out amongst flashbacks, the chair scene when the ear gets chopped off is legendary!
American Gangster sees Denzel Washington take on and smash the role of a gangster with a conscience. It explores the relationship of dirty cops and those on the street.
The second Godfather further builds up the story, a lot has changed since the first and we see Michael become far more involved in the family business than we ever imagined he would.
Layer Cake is a British Gangster flick with a bit of a twist, we see the different levels of coke dealers of the late 90s early 00s but when a deal goes wrong everyone becomes hot and no yellow Land Rovers are going to help.
Probably one of my favourites, we follow Ray Liotta who plays Henry Hill, a young lad that knew all along that he wanted to be a “wise guy” but that could never be fully integrated into the mob because of his Irish blood. Henry enjoys all the glitz and glamour of Mob-Life but once it begins to unravel things go south quick.
I don’t think anyone can say that Quentin Tarantino makes a poor film but Pulp Fiction is one of his best known films. It’s the weaving of the story-telling that does it, all the different stories build up to finish one whole story with boxers not throwing fights, mob killings leading to Samuel Jacksons most iconic quote as well as the odd gimp rapist thrown in the mix too.
The more recent Kray’s film (I told you there’d be another on the list) this one stars Tom Hardy as both brothers and focuses more on Reggie’s relationship with his first wife Frances. The struggle between right and wrong, family and future is expertly portrayed.
Martin Scorsese knows how to make a gangster film, proven by the amount of his films in this list, The Departed though shines more light on the Police side of the Mob as an undercover police officer and a mole in the police try to identify each other.
A Bank Job, prospective retirement, sloppy mistakes and the police, what more do you need?
This one really is more about the Police. The Gangster Squad are a group of police determined to bring down Los Angeles gangsters in the ultimate cat and mouse.
Johnny Depp, not in a pirate’s outfit, still after treasure but barking up the wrong tree.
When you get sent out to mind your crime family’s casino, perhaps don’t piss off the county commissioner?
Once Upon A Time in America
De Niro could easily be in every film. I like this one because of the way the story is told in flashbacks, well worth the watch!
It’s not considered the best one, but it’s still a proper classic!
Sean Connery plays an Irish cop who’s sick of the way things are in the police force with their relationship with gangsters and bootleggers so when Kevin Costner comes in to take down Al Capone played by Robert De Niro.
When one mans testimony brings an end to everything!
The Long Good Friday
The last British Film on the list, an up-and-coming gangster is tested by the insurgence of an unknown, very powerful threat.
Loosely based on true events this story follows a young FBI agent who infiltrates a crime family
No Country for Old Men
More of a western than a gangster flick but still worthy of the list for our last entrant !