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100 Best Gangster Movies in the History of Cinema

Updated on August 19, 2013

List of Best Crime Films

As far back as i can remember i have always enjoyed gangster movies. Gangster films are much more realistic than any other genre. People love to watch real and original things. Probably that is the reason for the high rating of crime films on sites like Imdb and Rotten Tomatoes.

Hollywood has produced many classic gangster movies.In fact if you ever stumbled across a list of Best actors list you will find that the top rankers have had played at least one mafia role in their life that made them real famous. Be it Marlon Brandoâs Vito Corleone or Al Pacinoâs Tony Montana or Robert DeNiroâs Jimmy Conway or Jack Nicholsonâs Francis Costello and the list goes on.

While several gangster movies are panned for too much violence yet they are able to get love from people and a huge cult following. If youâre are to portray a criminal on screen then you can not go by showing his good side.

I became a big fan of this genre personally because of more than perfect performance by the actors. In more than 8 hours long The Godfather trilogy Marlon Brando has almost half an hour role. But when I saw Don Vito Corleone on screen I became an instant fan. This was the first Marlon Brando film I saw and right on I accepted that he is the greatest actor ever born in the history of Hollywood. Al pacino and De Niro also had a huge impact on me.

Here is a list of top and best gangster movies ever made which are selected on the basis of their box office performance, critical reception and cult following.

This list is user generated which means you can vote or add your favorite film.From the list of 100 greatest gangster movies i selected my personally favorite Top 10 Gangster movies. So don't forget to check it out.

if you find any of your favorite gangster movie missing then please do let me know in the comments at the end of the page.

Photo Credit : sp0rty1255

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Top 100 Crime Films - Vote Your Favorite Crime Films

I can give you a list 100 of actors who become world's best method actors after playing the role of a real life or fictional mafia.

You too have loved such characters. I love Vito Corleone and Tony Montana. What about you? Which gangster film will you vote for?

Top 10 Gangster Movies

Below is the list of my personal favorite 10 Best Gangster Movies

# 10. Carlito's Way - Do it Carlito's Way

Carlito's Way (Collector's Edition)
Carlito's Way (Collector's Edition)

Description :-

Brian de palma presents you yet another great gangster movie.Based on two novels Carlito's Way and After Hours by Judge Edwin Torres,Carlito's way stars one of the best gangster movies actor Al Pacino in lead role.The film is more inspired from the later novel and focuses on the life of a con artist Carlito who is just released from prison.Carlito's way saw a prequel too,named Carlito's way : Rise To Power which was released direct to video.The film inspired a video game character Ken Rosenberg in the GTA game series.

Director :- Brian De Palma

Star-Cast :- Al Pacino, Sean Penn and Penelope Ann Miller

Plot :- After being released from prison a puerto rican con tries to stay away from the underworld,but would his past let him to do so?

 

# 9. Public Enemies - America's Most Wanted

Public Enemies (Single-Disc Edition)
Public Enemies (Single-Disc Edition)

Description :-

Public enemies is based on the non fiction book Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34. by Bryan Burroug.The Film is set during the era of Great Depression and tells the story of notorious bank robber John Dillinger and his criminal friends Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson.Johnny Depp's Performance as real life gangster was loved and praised by all.Though most of the events depicted in movie were historically inaccurate but the depiction of gangster life in depression era was to the point of perfection.Christian bale also performed well in the role of FBI inspector.

Director :- Michael Mann

Star-Cast :- Christian Bale, Johnny Depp and James Russo

Plot :- F.B.I. appoint their best agent Melvin Pervis to take down notorious bank robber John Dillinger.

 

# 8. Reservoir Dogs - Seven Total Strangers Team Up For The Perfect Crime. They Don't Know Each Other's Name. But They've Got Each Other's Color

Reservoir Dogs (15th Anniversary Edition)
Reservoir Dogs (15th Anniversary Edition)

Description :-

This debut crime film of Quentin Tarantino has great plot with great twists and many memorable dialogues.Released as an independent film,Reservoir Dogs become a cult hit and was named as the "Greatest Independent film ever made" by empire magazine.The movie has non linear storyline,a style which Quentin adopted in his another gangster movie,pulp fiction.In Tarantino's own words the film was his version of Stanley Kubrick's "The killing". The film inspired many movies world-wide.One being Sanjay Gupta's Kaante,a Bollywood film.

Director :- Quentin Tarantino

Star-Cast :- Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen

Plot :- 6 criminals who are strangers to each other teams up for a robbery which goes wrong and they suspect that one of them is police informant.

 

# 7. City Of God - If you run it will get you. If you stay it will eat you.

City of God
City of God

Description :-

City of god is much more realistic film than many other gangster movies.It is based on a 1997 novel of same name by Bráulio Mantovani.The novel itself is based on real life events that happened in late 60s and early 80s in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro.Those events are depicted as it is in the movie.

Even most of the actors employed in the movie belonged to the same suburb.In fact they were not professional actors but local residents who were given a chance to perform on screen.Upon release the film broke many records in the Brazilian cinema and was ranked in many lists of best movies by well known magazines,newspapers and critics.

Director :- Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund

Star-Cast :- Alexandre Rodrigues, Matheus Nachtergaele and Leandro Firmino

Plot :- The Life of two boys growing up in same neighborhood changes significantly.One become Photographer and other drug dealer.

 

# 6. Once Upon a time in America - As boys, they said they would die for each other. As men, they did

Once Upon a Time in America (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Once Upon a Time in America (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Description :-

Sergio leone turned down the offer by paramount pictures to direct The Godfather. That may have proved a wrong decision but Sergio was determined to make a movie about gangsters and then he came through this book The Hoods by Harry Grey,while filming Once upon a time in west.The book inspired him to make this classic and one of the top gangster movie Once upon a Time In America. The films stars one of the best gangster movie actor Robert De nero.

Director :- Sergio Leone

Star-Cast :- Robert De Niro, James Woods and Elizabeth McGovern

Plot :- A Jewish Gangster must overcome his past his old life,when he visit brooklyn his home,30 years later.

 

# 5. Scarface - He was Tony Montana. The world will remember him by another name...SCARFACE.

Scarface (Widescreen Two-Disc Anniversary Edition)
Scarface (Widescreen Two-Disc Anniversary Edition)

Description :-

Scarface is probably the most notorious gangster movie ever made and Tony montana is most ruthless gangster ever seen on big screen.Though this movie was remake of 1932 movie of same name yet in many aspects it is ahead of its predecessor.Brian de palma who is famous for making raw and real films directed this one of the best gangster movie.Scarface is very popular in pop culture specially among rappers and is often voted as the best movie by rappers.The clothing style and specially the black and white poster of Scarface featuring Al pacino is often imitated but never duplicated.

Director :- Brian De Palma

Star-Cast :- Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Bauer

Plot :- Tony Montana Take over the underworld empire in 1980 in miami.

 

# 4. The Departed - Cops or Criminals. When you're facing a loaded gun what's the difference?

The Departed (Single-Disc Widescreen Edition)
The Departed (Single-Disc Widescreen Edition)

Description :-

The departed is a gangster movie which stars some of the Hollywood's most talented actors Leonardo De caprio,Jack Nicholson,Matt damon and Mark Wahlberg and is directed by Martin Scorsese (the Pioneer in making crime films).

The departed is remake of another great gangster crime movie Internal affairs (Hong Kong). The film tells the tale of a police man and a thief who are sent as undercover agents in opposite sides.This film of Martin completes the "best movie in each decade" saga.Martin has Produced a master piece in each decade like "Taxi Driver" in 70s,"Raging Bull" in 80s,Goodfellas in 90s and "The departed" was his masterpiece of 00s decade.

Director :- Martin Scorsese

Star-Cast :- Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson

Plot :- A Police man and a Criminal are undercover to their opposite sides but when the truth is discovered a violent act take place.

 

# 3. Pulp Fiction - You won't know the facts until you've seen the fiction.

Pulp Fiction (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
Pulp Fiction (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Description :-

Pulp fiction is a gangster movie that changed the style of film making. Humor rich dialogues and non linear storyline are two major factors that adds to the top rating of movie on different sites.The film is divided in seven sequence and each sequence tells its own tale.All the sequences are somehow inter-related and together they make a great plot.

Quentin received a well deserved academy award for best screenplay.The most outstanding performance in the movie is of John travolta and the dance scene is one of the most famous scene of this crime film.Also Samuel L. jackson's eccentric dialogue and Bruce willis' ironic tale of humor and violence makes this movie must watch.

Director :- Quentin Tarantino

Star-Cast :- John Travolta,Bruce Willis,Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson

Plot :- The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

 

# 2. Goodfellas - Three Decades of Life in the Mafia

GoodFellas
GoodFellas

Description :-

Based on a non fiction best selling book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi,Goodfellas contains all the elements and themes that are loved by gangster movies fans.Wiseguy was based on the life of Mafia mobster-turned-informant Henry Hill.Ray Liotta played the role of Henry hill,Robert de nero played crime mafia Jimmy Conway and Joe Pesci played Tommy DeVito.De Nero and Ray liotta really did well but what beats out everyone was the academy award winning performance of Joe pesci.His performance in the 'Funny How' seen amuses you and is near perfection.Also the movie has many memorable quotes and one of the best among them is "As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster."

Director :- Martin Scorsese

Star-Cast :- Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci

Plot :- A Legendary tale about three gangsters and their rise and fall over three decades.

 

# 1. The Godfather Trilogy - An Offer You Can't Refuse

The Godfather Collection (The Coppola Restoration) [Blu-ray]
The Godfather Collection (The Coppola Restoration) [Blu-ray]

Description :-

Francis ford Coppolla's The Godfather is Based on the best selling novel of Mario Puzzo,The Godfather is about a fictional Italian-American crime family,The Corleones.The head of the family is an aging mafia,Don Vito Corleone.Though he is the title character but the movie focuses on his third son,Michael,who transform from an innocent son to a ruthless gangster mafia.

The film saw two sequels.The Godfather II continued the story of Michael corleone and in the flashback also showed how young Vito adolinni become Don Vito corleone.Part II Surpassed the success of first part.Part III was also made which was commercially successful.Everything in the trilogy is perfect.From casting to quotes,from acting to direction,from music score to art direction,from cinematography to sets.The character of Don Vito Corleone become extremely popular and is often imitated and parodied.The Godfather has some of the best gangsters movies quotes and one of my favorite is "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse.".

Director :- Francis Ford Coppola

Star-Cast :- The Godfather :- Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and James Caan, Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton and Andy Garcia

Plot :- The Godfather :- An Aging Crime Mafia Don Vito Corleone transfers his control to his sons.

The Godfather II :- Vito Corleone Struggles to Become Don Vito Corleone in his early life ,On the Other hand Michael Expands his boundaries while killing his own family members.

The Godfather III :- Michael Corleone is trying to make his business legal while seeking to vow for his own sins.

 

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Shout About Your Favorite Gangster Movie - Share Your Thoughts,Comments,Suggestions or just say "hi"

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    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 4 years ago

      I love Public Enemies!

    • ErikaV LM profile image

      ErikaV LM 4 years ago

      I love lists, especially when it's about films. Some classics here, but where is Dassin's "Rififi" or "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", or "Once Upon a Time in the West", or...?

    • profile image

      sadcitykid 4 years ago

      I love Pulp Fiction, Desperado, Once upon a time in Mexico, The Professional, True Roance i consider to be a crime film, and a romantic film, it happens to be my favorite movie. I liked you list id have to agree with the whole thing.

    • Underrated profile image

      Underrated 4 years ago

      Great list.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I totally agree, Blow is an absolute wonderful piece! I especially like the fact it's based on a true story as well.. Don't know why exactly, but I just do... :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @binwaayeel: Isn't it brilliant..? Spending 1 million per minute and then making at least 5 times as much for the same minutes.. I do get it. Just don't think I'd be able to do it as well unfortunately :-).

    • profile image

      Bartukas 4 years ago

      American gangster I like this movie most , also I like Denzel Washington so this movie is the best for me

    • profile image

      binwaayeel 4 years ago

      i don't understand the concept behind making 120 minute movie with 120 million dollars!

    • Eric Mayo profile image

      Eric Mayo 4 years ago

      Wow, where is Dillinger with Warren Oates and Michelle Phillips?

    • profile image

      JayTheCritic 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Yep!

      I love so many of the Bogart, Cagney & Robinson films.

    • profile image

      JayTheCritic 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Yep!

      I love so many of the Bogart, Cagney & Robinson films.

    • profile image

      JayTheCritic 4 years ago

      @christopherwell: So Agree!!!

    • profile image

      JayTheCritic 4 years ago

      @anonymous: A Great Gangster Movie, like so many of the Cagney, Bogart & Robinson movies from the 30s & 40s are!

    • GlassJoe LM profile image

      GlassJoe LM 5 years ago

      Awesome lens, love your theme and style. Fits perfectly with the black, white, and red feel of gangster movies.

    • profile image

      JayTheCritic 4 years ago

      The Godfather.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I believe blow should be waaaaayyyy closer to the top it damn sure shouldn't be right above fast and the furious i mean come on ppl are you really that dumb

    • profile image

      msseiboi 5 years ago

      American Gangster

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i love all gangster movies!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i love all gangster movies.thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I equally love both Godfather I & II. I think they are both two of the best films (of any genre) ever made.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The Roaring Twenties!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great Lens!!

    • BruceJackson1 profile image

      BruceJackson1 5 years ago

      Great one. Once Upon a Time in America is one of those rare jewels that has to be in any crime cinema buff's top 10.

    • profile image

      zerotech01 5 years ago

      I think The Italian Job is awesome, The star is popular, and the flow of story is detailed, and scene is nice.

    • profile image

      GiselleToner 5 years ago

      Great Lens. One thing though, the above list says actors but is actually of directors. Cheers

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very nice! But check out my list for the best Mafia movies here: http://www.hitting10.com/top-mafia-and-gangster-mo...

    • christopherwell profile image

      christopherwell 5 years ago

      Great lens! I prefer all the classic crime movies of the 1930s, '40s and '50s.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      great idea for a lens and really well executed (pun intended).

    • profile image

      Shadrosky 6 years ago

      A good list...personally I prefer The Departed the most to those listed here, such a great movie!

    • Rankography profile image

      Rankography 6 years ago

      Great lens, very comprehensive list. I would say that Eastern Promises was a bit too low, that is a great movie. And as much as I loved Lock, Stock as an action comedy, I don't think it should be so high on this particular list.

      I would also suggest you check out A History of Violence. That is another great gangster related film.

    • profile image

      napzoutlaw 6 years ago

      love the lens!!

    • Krafick profile image

      Krafick 6 years ago

      The Departed, Godfather, Pulp Fiction.... and there are many others.

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      The American Gangster movie brought back a lot of memories for me when I lived in Harlem in the mid 1970s on 145th street between St. Nicholas Ave. and Convent Ave.

      I can recall so many incidences where it was best for my own safety and well-being to pretend that I didn't see nothing!...City College was around the corner and I spend a majority of leisure time on campus and rarely ventured out of neighborhood except to go to work and maybe a few concerts. Late night activities was for the hustlers, dealers, prositutes, addicts, etc.

      Thank God I had the street sense to survive those three difficult years of living in "the city".

    • ben186422 profile image

      ben186422 6 years ago

      Is there a reason why Bonnie and Clyde is on there twice? #7 and #92. Is there a difference between the two?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      The best gangster movies were made in the 30s and the 40s.

    • littlezotz profile image

      littlezotz 6 years ago

      I would have included White Heat. And maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe The Untouchables. Maybe if you expand this list to a Top 20 someday. ;)

    • profile image

      RussKeith 6 years ago

      I enjoyed your lens but was surprised that âThe Warriorsâ didnât make the list.

    • Psycho-Gamer profile image

      MasterPsycho 6 years ago from Earth

      Except the godfather trilogy i also enjoyed pulp fiction very much...it was abit funny for me

    • DogToys LM profile image

      DogToys LM 6 years ago

      Gangs of New York was a terrible film.

    • profile image

      DaddyGee 6 years ago

      My son and I find Mafia movies fascinating. The Godfather has a very sad message. Gangster more alone at the end than at the beginning.

    • profile image

      dawnperkins 6 years ago

      cool :)

    • profile image

      pubspy 6 years ago

      I Like snatch as i come from London, also the predecessor which was lock,stock & two smoking barrels,

      Great Lens, Thanks

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Gangster movies have always been a favorite of mine. Thank you.