What is it about gangster movies that we love so much? The life of a gangster is far from romantic, yet they seduce us and draw us in like moths to a flame. They captivate us and make us think about how cool it would be to be a mobster, the wife of a mobster, or the mistress of a mobster – at least while we are in fantasyland watching them.
The gangster life would appear to have a lot of allure for both men and women in some twisted way. But then we see something gory take place – fitting someone with cement shoes as mafia henchmen prepare to toss them in the river, bloody shoot ’em up’s as they sit in a restaurant eating their pasta, or dismembering a rival mobster, blood spraying everywhere – and we think…Who am I kidding? More than likely, we are all saying in unison, “All right!” or “Man! That was so wickedly gross!” Especially if the guy deserved what he got.
Top Five Classic Gangster Movies:
The Godfather (1972) – Michael Corleone has no intention of getting wrapped up in the family business. A rival of the Corleone family, Virgil Sollozzo, wants to start selling drugs and seeks protection from the Corleone family as well as other crime families. Don Corleone refuses the offer and is later gunned down by Sollozzo’s hit men. The Don survives, but the attack draws Michael in and he starts a violent mob war that threatens to tear the family apart.
Starring: Marlon Brando (Don Vito Corleone), Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), Robert Duvall (Tom Hagen), James Caan (Santino “Sonny” Corleone), Diane Keaton (Kay Adams), and Abe Vigoda (Sal Tessio).
Memorable Quote: “Whatya gonna do? Nice college boy, eh? Don’t wanna get mixed up in the family business? Now you wanna gun down a police captain because he slapped you in the face a little bit, huh? Whataya think this is, the Army, where you shoot ’em a mile away? You gotta get up close like this… bada BING! You blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit. C’mere…you’re taking this very personal.” (Sonny says to Michael) (The Godfather Quotes)
As a side note, I recommend all three Godfather movies as each one ties in together.
Scarface (1980) – This is a really great movie about a Cuban immigrant named Tony who has come to the U.S. in search of the American Dream. Things don’t start out so well when three INS officials suspect Tony of apolitical criminal activities and he is detained for 30-days, after which he and his friend Manny Ribera receive their green cards and begin working at a Miami taco stand.
The pair is approached by one of Frank Lopez’s men wanting them to unload some marijuana but Tony refuses, citing the pay is too low. Lopez then sends the men to a Colombian drug dealer to pick up two kilos of cocaine. Nothing goes right and Angel is dismembered in the shower. Just as Tony is about to meet the same fate, Manny and another man, Chi Chi, barge in to save his hide in a barrage of bullets, taking down everyone but Hector who Tony later kills. Tony Montana rises through the ranks of the drug world and as the business grows, so does his paranoia.
Starring: Al Pacino (Tony Montana), Steven Bauer (Manny Ribera), Michelle Pfeiffer (Elvira Hancock), and Robert Loggia (Frank Lopez).
Memorable Quote: The most well known quote from Scarface is, “Say hello to my little friend.” (Al Pacino as Tony Montana)
Goodfella’s (1990) – This movie is based on the life of wise-guy Henry Hill, an Irish-American, and his affiliation with a mob in Brooklyn that spanned the mid-’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Henry began with petty crimes like selling untaxed cigarettes and escalating to selling drugs, for which he is finally busted as he pulls out of his driveway. His wife, Karen, destroys the cocaine, which infuriates Henry.
Abandoned by mob boss Paulie Cicero and the other mobsters, Henry becomes an informant for the FBI. After testifying against Paulie Cicero and Jimmy Conway, the Hill’s enter the Witness Protection Program when Henry becomes convinced he and his family have been marked for death.
Starring: Ray Liotta (Henry Hill), Robert DeNiro (Jimmy Conway), Joe Pesci (Tommy DeVito), Lorraine Bracco (Karen Hill), Paul Sorvino (Paulie Cicero).
Memorable Quote: “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” (Ray Liotta as Henry Hill)
Carlito’s Way (1993) – Carlito Brigante has just been released from prison and has sworn off drugs and violence. He buys a nightclub in hopes of raising enough money to leave New York and move to the Bahamas. Carlito renews his relationship with Gail, the only good thing in his life. However, the past has a way of catching up with a person and it isn’t long before Carlito is dragged back into the life he so desperately wanted to leave behind, and nothing good can come out of it.
Starring: Al Pacino (Carlito Brigante), Sean Penn (David Kleinfeld), John Leguizamo (Benny Blanco), Luis Guzman (Pachanga), and Penelope Ann Miller (Gail).
Memorable Quote: “Dumb move, man. Dumb move. But it’s like them old reflexes comin’ back. I know what’s supposed to happen now. Benny’s gotta go down. And if I don’t do it, they’re gonna say: “Carlito, he’s flaky, man. Slacked-out. A used-to-be bad guy. Joint got to Carlito.” The street is watchin’. She is watchin’ all the time.” (Carlito Brigante) (Carlito Brigante quotes)
The Untouchables (1987) – A movie based on actual events that occurred during Prohibition-era Chicago, Eliot Ness is an agent with the Treasury Department who has been tasked with taking down mob boss Al Capone. After his first raid ends in embarrassment, Ness enlists the help of Jim Malone, an Irish beat cop who understands how Capone conducts business.
Ness and Malone visit the police academy where they recruit a team that can’t be corrupted to go after Capone and his men.
Starring: Kevin Costner (Eliot Ness), Sean Connery (Jim Malone), Robert De Niro (Al Capone), and Andy Garcia (Agent George Stone).
Memorable Quote: “He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way, and that’s how you get Capone.” (Jim Malone to Eliot Ness)
I’ve always enjoyed gangster movies. I’m pretty sure Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, and Ray Liotta were gangsters in their previous lives. Is it me or do these guys just ooze Mafia? Bada Bing!
Personal Experience – Gangster/Mafia Movies Fan
The Godfather Quotes | Quotesfan
Carlito Brigante quotes … Movie Quotes Database