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Top 7 Best Gangster Movies of All Time

Updated on August 5, 2011

Gangster movies have always been a long time favorite genre of movie for me because they portray a gritty side of humanity and takes us into a world that is sometimes stranger than fiction.

There's something about gangster & mob movies that draw people in. Maybe it's the life on the edge, the rise & fall or maybe it's just the "I don't care" attitude the movies portray that we all secretly want to live.

Whichever your reasons for loving them, this is my list of the top seven best gangster movies of all time.


Casino is the tale of two mobsters that strike it big and are given the responsibility of running a casino in none other than Las Vegas during the '70's; the height of when the town was fraught with mobsters and those looking to make quick cash.

Martin Scorsese has done a masterful job on this film; it's long but it's a movie that you can watch over and over again. Robert DeNiro's character, Ace, plays the lead and is full control of the casino (with the exception of the mob bosses backing the casino). Joe Peschi, Nicky, is Ace's main main and is quick to the gun whenever someone messes with "the businesses".

It doesn't take long for everything to start crashing down after Ace meets up with long-time Las Vegas hustler, Ginger, who has a knack for everything that's expensive and has some very dastardly habits (and problems).

Overall, Casino is one of my favorite gangster movies because it's one where you cheer for Ace all along because he is trying to go legit but his mob past won't let him escape.

The movie the perfect portrayal of the gangster life especially set in the 1970's Las Vegas setting.


Ray Liota, Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci made up the Goodfellas; a movie directed by none other than Martin Scorsese (he certainly knows how to make a good mob movie).

Henry Hill (Ray Liota) grows up Brooklyn and has always had his heart set on becoming a gangster. Henry is a small time gangster along with Tommy (Joe Pesci), doing little hit and runs here and there but not really doing anything too big until they meet James (Robert DeNiro) in which, at this point, they start to climb up the ranks in the mob.

Before long, Henry's problems start to become overwhelming; he can't seem to get away from the heat caused by Tommy and it's putting a lot of stress on James at the same time. The gang gets into all kinds of rackets but what puts them big time is the smuggling of cocaine (which will ultimately become one of the biggest points in where things start to go out of control).

I love this movie because it's the classic rise and fall of the gangster. There are moments where things are absolutely hilarious while others are completely serious; you don't know whether to cheer or hope for the crew to be taken down. This is one of those movies you pop in and have a blast; guaranteed not to disappoint.


Scarface is the timeless gangster classic about the rise and fall of Tony Montana. There's no real point in trying to cover up the story from spoilers because it's highly likely that you've seen this gem of a gangster movie.

Tony (Al Pacino) is fresh off the boat from Cuba and decides that he's going for it all. Before long, he's doing petty drug deals for his boss but it soon turns sour when he starts to go off on his own, making his own decisions. After a dispute, Tony decides that he's going to be the head of the business and at this moment Tony's dramatic rise shoots off.

As you can expect, things don't go well in the long run. Tony's success starts to bring him a lot of heat and before long the same people he started off with are trying to kill him which leads up to one of the most awesome ending scenes of any movie: Tony going out in style with a huge machine gun in hand. You know the line "say hello to my little friend!"

Scarface is a movie that I like to throw on every once in a while because besides the rise and fall of Tony and the overall aggressive nature of the film, it's somewhat of a hype because you are reminded that "the world is yours"; it makes you want to go out and be awesome (minus the part of getting shot in the back).

The Godfather Trilogy

I lumped the Godfather movies all in one because, after all, they are all part of larger story that is "The Godfather". However, most would agree that it was Godfather II that really stole the show and is the "essential" mob movie of all time.

The Godfather is an incredible mob/gangster set of flicks that span over multiple generations of the Corleone family. In the beginning, Don Vito (Marlon Brando) is the head honcho but heat starts to rise for the Corleone family and Don Vito meets an untimely demise which sets the stage for his son, Michael (Al Pacino) to take his place and take the family business to new heights. Along the way, there are many moments of dishonesty and backstabbing which keeps you at the edge of your seat and loving every minute of the wonderful performances of some of the best actors to grace the silver screen.

In my opinion, The Godfather trilogy is essential for anyone that loves mob and gangster movies. If possible, sit down and watch all of them back-to-back so you get the complete story and so you're completely involved and hanging on the edge. If you haven't seen the movies than get them now because it's The Godfather trilogy that has set the standard of all other gangster movies on this list.


Snatch is an incredible fun movie directed by Guy Ritchie; staring actors such as Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro, Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham. The film is shot through multiple story lines that bounce between each to share the back story and interweave the characters together in a stylish fashion that never seems to go dull.

Turkish (Statham) and his cohort, Tommy, are a small time gangsters with their hands in fixed boxing matches run by Brick Top (a notorious gangster in their area). In a coincidence of events, Turkish and Tommy run into Mickey (Pitt) who is a 'pickey' (gypsy) which results in their fighter losing a bare-knuckle brawl that now puts both of them in a stressful situation of producing a new fighter, for Brick Top, for an upcoming match. Unfortunately, nothing goes right for the duo and they find themselves in even more trouble when the fight doesn't go according to plan. Along the way, multiple stories and tied together from all different gangsters that eventually lead up to a coincidence of events that flips the story around so much you won't even believe what happened.

In my opinion, Snatch is an incredibly enjoyable and fun movie to watch. The film is about gangsters but you watch it more for the odd story telling and the hilarious interactions between all of the characters. Guy Ritchie did an amazing job at keeping things tied together throughout the film so there's never a dull moment.

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction is Quentin Tarantino at his finest with this masterpiece of a gangster movie. The movie is shot through different story lines and archs which all intersect at some point or another from the two gangsters (Travolta and Sam Jackson) to the fleeing boxer (Bruce Willis).

The movie is full of profanity and great one liners which instantly made this movie immensely enjoyable; Tarantino has a knack for dialog heavy movies even when every other word is profanity.

The story, itself, is hard to describe through text; it's one move you really do have to watch over and over to pick up the subtle hints between each of the characters. Your first time watching it will be a shock but it will be one you love because each of the characters are insane in their own rights. This is one gangster movie you don't want to leave out in your collection; if you love it than you'll definitely enjoy the other movies by Tarantino.

In my opinion, Pulp Fiction is a timeless classic; it's the ultimate buddy movie when you gather up your friends and have a movie night. Every scene is classic and you'll be quoting lines from the movie over and over again; especially Samuel L. Jackon's character.

City of God

City of God is my all time favorite movie and not just for the gangster genre; I mean ALL time. This Brazilian film is about the rise of a young photographer stuck in the middle of one of the most violent moments of Rio De Janeiro. The movie is in Portuguese which is why it may not have received much attention but trust me, this is a movie that is thrilling in every single way.

The story is about Rocket who grows up in the 'City of God'; a slum in the favelas of Rio. His story is intertwined with gangster within his neighborhood. As the characters age the city becomes modernized, many of Rocket's childhood acquaintances become gangsters which completely change the life of Rocket as he aims to become a photographer. It's Rocket's friendship with the gangsters that give him access where no other journalist can go; he's able to capture a specific slice of life as he's growing up in the City of God.

I love this movie because it blends the 'coming of age' tale but with a gangster twist. Rocket and his friends are stuck in the middle of a drug war without escape but still have friends on the inside which they still relate to. There aren't any big name movie stars in the movie which makes it very enjoyable to see indie actors at their finest; a true show of great acting on behalf of those involved with the film. Finally, the ending will blow you away but I don't want to spoil it for you - all I can say is that it's not what you expect. Get this movie.

What are your favorite gangster movies?

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    • nemanjaboskov profile image

      Nemanja Boškov 6 years ago from Serbia

      You did a great job here, and I'm surprised there haven't been more people to comment. I agree with you for the most part, except that I haven't seen City of God - although it sounds great :)

    • jeyaramd profile image

      jeyaramd 6 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      Godfather has to be the best out of that list. It was a great story. Marlon brando was great. You can vote on my hub for this year's nominations for oscar. I would like to know your favorite for best picture. Great hub.