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The Best Gangster Movies of All Time

Updated on April 14, 2015

This is a list containing the best gangster movies of all time. The movies are not listed in any particular order. You've probably seen some of the films or at least heard of them. They're definitely all worth checking out of you haven't watched them. There is a gangster film that will suit just about any taste.

You'll likely see many familiar faces in these films. Some actors just make for great gangsters.


The Untouchables Movie Trailer

The Untouchables


Rated R
Released 1987
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Stars: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert DeNiro, Andy Garcia

The Untouchables is film about notorius gangster Al Copone (Robert DeNiro) and Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner), a federal agent trying to track him down. The film takes places during the Prohibition Era, a time in which the police department and other law enforcement agencies were highly corrupted.

Nobody in the department will take Ness seriously until he meets Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery), a veteran cop, George Stone (Andy Garcia), and Oscar Wallace ( Charles Martin Smith) who group together in an attempt to bring down Capone and his men.

Ratings Received

Amazon: 4.2 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 87% liked it
IMDb: 8 out of 10 stars


Goodfellas Movie Trailer

Goodfellas


Rated R
Released 1990
Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci

Goodfellas is based on the book "Wiseguy" by Nicholas Pileggi. It's a true life story about an FBI informant named Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) and how he helped to take down the mobsters he once ran with in New York. Henry Hill is half Irish and half Sicilian which prevents him from ever actually becoming a member of the crime family. However, Henry, manages to rise up in the ranks until he realizes he has become a target of the same people he works with and has known for years.

Goodfellas received 6 Academy Award nominations and Best Supporting Actor was won by Joe Pesci. Goodfellas is an excellent an excellent film as illustrated by the ratings and reviews it received. A definite must-see film.

Ratings Received

Amazon: 4.3 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 96% liked it
IMDb: 8.8 out of 10 stars


The Godfather Movie Trailer

The Godfather


Rated R

Released 1972
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton

The Godfather has many brilliant actors in it and together they make a fantastic gangster film. There were two other Godfather films that followed, though not as successful as the first. It's understandable, however, as The Godfather was a tough movie to beat.

The Godfather is based on the Corleone family, one of several mafia crime families. The family is headed by Vito Corleone (Marlon Brandon) who is labeled "The Godfather" or "Don." Vito's youngest son Michael is attempting to distance himself from the criminal life that his family is so involved in. However, when Michael takes charge of the situation when his father is shot, he takes a new perspective and violently goes after the people behind the shooting and drug trafficking that was behind it.

The Godfather was and is one of the best movies of all time, not just best gangster movies of all time. It is a film that could be enjoyed by people with a variety of interests and age groups. A timeless movie that can never be paralleled.

Ratings Received

Amazon: 4.6 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 97% liked it
IMDb: 9.2 out of 10 stars


A Bronx Tale Movie Trailer

A Bronx Tale


Rated R
Released 1993
Directed by: Robert DeNiro
Stars: Robert DeNiro, Chazz Palminteri

A bronx Tale stars Lorenzo Aiello (Robert DeNiro), a hardworking, low-income-earning bus driver in Bronx, New York. It's a tough neighborhood but he does what he can to raise his only son Calogero the best way he knows how. However, when Calogero meets local big-time mobster or "wiseguy" Sonny (Chazz Palminteri) he can't help but become intrigued by the ease of making a lot of money for such little effort and becomes mixed up in the business. It ends up being a battle between Calogero's father who wants what's best for his son, and Sonny, who sees Calogero as a useful, trustworthy employee.

Ratings Received

Amazon: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 88% liked it
IMDb: 7.7 out of 10 stars


The Departed Movie Trailer

The Departed


Rated R

Released 2006
Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg

The Departed takes place in Boston and stars undercover officer Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) who works for crime lord Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) and plays a acts as a 'mole' in the police department.

In this gangster film, the Irish mafia is running strong strong and the Feds are losing their fight to bring them down. They're down to their last options when they decide to send in an infiltrator to help them.


Ratings Received

Amazon: 4 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% liked it
IMDb: 8.5 out of 10 stars


Once upon A Time in America Movie Trailer

Once Upon A Time In America


Rated R
Released 1984
Directed by: Sergio Leone
Stars: Robert DeNiro, James Woods

Once Upon A Time In America follows the life of David "Noodles" Aaronson (Robert De Niro) and his Jewish friends in New York's lower east side. The film spans over four decades, beginning in the 1920s when the group were children. The film continues through to show their lives in the 1930s as adult criminals and finishes with Noodles returning to his hometown in 1968 after having left for years.

The film is quite long, nearly four hours, but it's still incredibly captivating. This movie definitely ranks up there with the best gangster films of all time and was very deserving of its high ratings and good reviews.


Ratings Received

Amazon: 4.3 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% liked it
IMDb: 8.4 out of 10 stars


Colors Movie Trailer

Colors


Rated R
Released 1988
Directed by: Dennis hopper
Stars: Sean Penn, Robert Duvall

Colors takes place in the dangerous streets of crime-ridden East Los Angeles. This film follows two police officers, veteran cop Robert Duvall and new to the beat Sean Penn as they attempt to clean the neighborhood streets of hoodlums and gangsters.

The two largest gangs in the area are the Crips and the Bloods, rival Los Angeles gangs. The cops battle a never-ending war against gang crime and violence, learning from each other's mistakes and strengths.

Ratings Received

Amazon: 4 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 66% liked it
IMDb: 6.6 out of 10 stars


Donnie Brasco Movie Trailer

Donnie Brasco


Rated R

Released 1997
Directed by: Mike Newell
Stars: Johnny Depp, Al Pacino, Anne Heche

Donnie Braco is a gangster movie that is based on a true story. The film follows undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone (Johnny Depp) as he attempts to infiltrate the mafia. Pistone introduces himself as Donnie Brasco and teams up with low ranking mobster Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino). As Donnie Brasco spends more time as his made up character and rises though the ranks within the mafia, he begins to become more and more like Brasco in his off duty hours and less like the agent he began the operation as.

Ratings Received

Amazon: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% liked it
IMDb: 7.8 out of 10 stars


Reservoir Dogs Movie Trailer

Reservoir Dogs


Rated R

Released 1992
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi, Edward Bunker, Quentin Tarantino

Reservoir Dogs is a film about a bunch of seasoned criminals that don't know each other but are brought together to pull off a large heist at a jewelry store. The film goes back and forth in time showing different parts of each character and different events that occur before and after the robbery but not during.

Reservoir Dogs is an awesome movie, jus like every other film by Quentin Tarantino. It's a different type of gangster movie, that's for sure.


Ratings Received

Amazon: 4.2 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% liked it
IMDb: 8.4 out of 10 stars


Casino

Casino
Rated R

Released 1995
Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Robert DeNiro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci

In Casino, Ace Rothstein (Robert DeNiro) runs a casino in which he masters the books while working alongside mobsters like Nicky Salerno. Unlike the brutally violent Nicky, Ace Rothstein is more focused on the business and making money without drawing attention to themselves.

Ace meets Ginger (Sharon Stone) in the casino one day and falls in love with her beauty. However, Ginger, is an ex-prostitute that's still addicted to drugs and her former boyfriend. Ace soon learns she hasn't changed much about herself, including her gold-digging ways.

Ratings Received

Amazon: 4.3 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% liked it
IMDb: 8.2 out of 10 stars


White Heat


Rated NR

Released 1949
Directed by: Raoul Walsh
Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo

White Heat is an old time gangster movie starring James Cagney. Cagney play gangster Cody Jarret, whose gang had robbed a train and made off with a load of cash while killing several people at the same time. Instead of facing prison time for the murders, Jarret confesses to another train robbery that occurred at the same time but in a different state. This way, he'll only be guilty of robbery and spend a few years behind bars.

However, the Feds plave an informant in the sell with Jarret to attempt to find out with the money from the gang is being laundered.


Ratings Received

Amazon: 4.8 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% liked it
IMDb: 8.2 out of 10 stars

Scarface Movie Trailer

Scarface



Rated R

Released 1983
Directed by: Brian De Palma
Stars: Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer

Scarface stars Tony Montana (Al Pacino) a Cuban criminal that arrives in the United States to pursue the American Dream. Starting out at a dead-end job to make ends meet, Tony Montana a.k.a. Scarface, is offered a job he cannot refuse.

Tony starts working for Miami drug lord Robert Loggia (Frank Lopez) whose mistress is a cocaine addicted Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer). Tony takes a liking to Elvira and attempts to seduce and steal her from his boss. It doesn't take long for Tony to rise within the ranks of the crime chain although he is heavily into drugs himself. This legendary gangster film illustrates Scarface's rise and eventual fall and all the brutality and bloodshed that happens in between.



Ratings Received

Amazon: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% liked it
IMDb: 8.2 out of 10 stars


Do you have a favorite gangster movie?

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    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I've only seen two on this list- The Departed and White Heat. I know Gangster Films are popular but I have to want to see them in order to be interested. To me the films of the 70s-90s were similar in style with the flashback plotlines, violence, and in many cases the stars. The Departed interested me mainly because of the casting choice and the setup and it was satisfying- but I could have done without some of the violence. I don't think anything could top White Heat. But then again nobody does a gangster flick like Cagney- not to mention the classic ending. Interesting hub.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England

      An interesting list, many great gangster films included. Good to see Donnie Brasco hasn't been forgotten though it doesn't look like you're a Scarface fan. Pacino's remake probably has the largest fanbase of any gangster film.

      I've voted for The Godfather, my no.1 favourite gangster film.

      Voted Up and Awesome.

    • profile image

      Martyv25 4 years ago

      Great hub and some great movies there too, my favourite would have to be Goodfellas, Robert De Niro makes for a great gangster I guess even when he's playing a gangster in a comedy role in movies like Analyze This. Donnie Brasco is a brilliant movie and one of my personal favourites, Casino is great, and I can't believe that I have to admit to never having seen any of the Godfather movies. I liked the Departed but I didn't think it was as good of a gangester movies as some of the classics, for me that movie concentrated more on cops.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've seen them all; great list!

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 4 years ago from usa

      Great list of gangster movies and another movie would be Scarface starring Al Pacino which grossed.worldwide $65.9 million.

    • nmdonders profile image
      Author

      nmdonders 4 years ago

      You know I swear that I had Scarface and I'm shocked. When you look over a list 50 times I think it starts to become nonsensical haha.

      Thanks for the comments and suggestions I'll definitely add a couple more. I know of a few great ones that should be on here. I was afraid of making the hub too large but I think I can squeeze in a few more :)

    • kj force profile image

      kjforce 4 years ago from Florida

      nmdonders....All the mentioned were great movies..however..my favourite was

      " Bonnie and Clyde " (Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty) it was unlike the others due to the fact it was also a love story...not necessarily about sex...your research and descript of the movies was awesome...thank you for sharing...

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Yikes, I haven't seen any one of these films. Time to rent one of them. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Well-researched, organized, and edited! Great job, nmdonders!

    • nmdonders profile image
      Author

      nmdonders 4 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback :) I love gangster movies and I think there might be a couple more to add to this list.

      I've heard the Bonnie and Clyde story but have never seen the movie. Thanks, I'll try to check it out.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

      I LOVED Ray Liotta in Good Fellas....it was such an awesome movie! For a long time I had a crush on him after I saw that... LOL! Actually everybody in that movie was awesome. I've seen one or two of these others but would love to see all of them. Gangster movies rule :) This is very useful! Thank you for sharing.

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