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Top 7 Gangster Movies That Defined a Genre: Ultimate Countdown

Hollywood has been producing gangster films for centuries, with streaming services enabling people to watch innovative and novel films. Modern gangster films adhere to established conventions or reinterpret well-known premises.

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Top 7 Gangster Movies: Hollywood has produced gangster films for nearly as long as it has existed. Numerous dramas, action films, and biopics of notorious criminals have slipped under the radar, especially in recent years.

Streaming services have made it easier for people to watch innovative and novel criminal films. Regularly releasing an abundance of exceptional gangster films characterizes the modern era. In these films, either established conventions are adhered to or well-known premises are reinterpreted.

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Top 7 Gangster Movies

“The Godfather” (1972)

"The Godfather" (1972)
Source: Letterboxd

Filmed in 1972, “The Godfather” is widely regarded as a magnum opus of cinema under the direction of Francis Ford Coppola. The cinematic adaptation explores the life and times of Michael Corleone, the progenitor of the Corleone family, as depicted in the novel by Mario Puzo. Iconic performances include Marlon Brando’s depiction of Vito and Al Pacino’s indelible performance as Michael.

The cinematic work deftly examines themes of loyalty, power, and the repercussions of an organized criminal lifestyle. “The Godfather” significantly impacted film history and revolutionized the gangster subgenre through its unforgettable sequences, iconic performances, and brilliant narrative.

“Goodfellas” (1990)

“Goodfellas” (1990)
Source: IMDb

The 1990 film “Goodfellas,” directed by Martin Scorsese, depicts Henry Hill’s tumultuous and intellectually stimulating life as an American Mafia member. It is widely regarded as a cinematic masterpiece. Drawing inspiration from Nicholas Pileggi’s literary work “Wiseguy,” the movie exemplifies Scorsese’s distinctive aesthetic through its engrossing narrative and outstanding turns from Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci.

Celebrated for its unwavering depiction of crime, loyalty, and the repercussions of a life in the mafia, “Goodfellas” garnered six Academy Award nominations and continues to be regarded as a standard in the gangster film genre on account of its renowned realism and use of tracking shots.

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“Scarface” (1983)

“Scarface” (1983)
Source: Variety

Under the direction of Brian De Palma, Al Pacino’s epic movie “Scarface” (1983) charts Tony Montana’s meteoric rise and tragic demise. Filmed against the backdrop of the drug trade in Miami, the drama delves into profound themes such as ambition, avarice, and its merciless repercussions.

By its memorable score, iconic quotations, and intense performances, “Scarface” has become a cultural touchstone that has irrevocably altered the gangster film genre. Its unfiltered depiction of extravagance and aggression has firmly established its position as an enduring and seminal work in the realm of cinema.

“The Departed” (2006)

“The Departed” (2006)
Source: IMDb

The 2006 crime thriller “The Departed” by Martin Scorsese is a riveting tale set in the criminal underworld of Boston. The film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson, examines the intertwined lives of a mole and a covert officer within the police force. Tensions rise as they work for the mob and the authorities while attempting to expose one another.

It earned four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It exemplifies his command of the criminal genre as an enduring modern classic.

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“Pulp Fiction” (1994)

“Pulp Fiction” (1994)
Source: Screen Daily

“Pulp Fiction” (1994), a cinematic masterpiece by Quentin Tarantino, features intricate narratives of assassins, boxers, and criminals in Los Angeles.

With Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, and Uma Thurman as stars, “Pulp Fiction” received widespread acclaim for its eclectic soundtrack, non-linear narrative, and memorable characters. At Cannes, it won the Palme d’Or for independent cinema. With its audacious storytelling, wit, and style, the film remains a touchstone in contemporary cinema.

“Casino” (1995)

“Casino” (1995)
Source: IMDb

Martin Scorsese’s engrossing crime drama “Casino” (1995) examines the intricate underbelly of 1970s Las Vegas casinos. Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci star in this film about mob-controlled casinos.

Exhibiting Scorsese’s distinctive aesthetic, the film deftly portrays the temptation and peril associated with the epicenter of wagering. In this film, Pesci plays a ferocious role as a gangster dealing with power, loyalty, and the inevitable effects of crime.

“The Untouchables” (1987)

“The Untouchables” (1987)
Source: Into Film

The Prohibition era is the setting for Brian De Palma’s 1987 crime drama “The Untouchables,” which takes place in Chicago. The film stars Sean Connery and Robert De Niro as detectives Eliot Ness and Jim Malone, respectively.

Combining suspense, action, and memorable performances, “The Untouchables” achieved both commercial and critical acclaim. Ennio Morricone’s evocative score makes it one of the most influential crime films of all time. These were the top 7 gangster movies.

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