Gangster film is a type of crime film. It is about gangs and organized crime. It is considered a subgenre of the crime genre. Notable directors in this subgenre are Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino and Brian De Palma. Notable actors in gangster films are Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent, Wesley Snipes, Ray Liotta, Christopher Walken, and Samuel L. Jackson.
History in the United States[change | change source]
Early Hollywood[change | change source]
The first official gangster film was The Regeneration (1915) and the first with sound was The Lights of New York (1928). There were a few notable films in the 1920s and early 1930s, including Scarface (1932), Little Caesar (1931) and The Public Enemy (1931). Films from th e 1930s to 1960s reflected political and cultural views on criminals. Punishment was strict and respect for authority important. Films showed criminals and organized crime as bad things. Several gangster films had warnings before the motion picture. Early films showed criminals as a result or product of society and not rebels. As a result, viewers could sympathize with the criminals. With the growth of the FBI, there were more films about police and government officials hunting criminals. Gangster films were often about trying to deal with crimes and detectives fighting crime.
New Hollywood[change | change source]
In 1968, the Hays Code that censored inappropriate films was removed. Directors now had more freedom. Some notable gangster films were made after 1968. They include Bonnie and Clyde by Arthur Penn and Mean Streets by Martin Scorcese. The movie starred Robert De Niro. These films began to include move violence and gore.
In the 1970s, The Godfather films by Francis Ford Coppola showed the Italian-American Mafia in New York. The Godfather is considered one of the best movies of all time. The Godfather movies changed the genre and made the genre more popular. Many films about the Mafia would follow in the 1970s and 1980s. Important films are the Goodfellas and The Untouchables.
Martin Scorcese has made several gangster films from the 1990s to 2010s. Scorsese often works with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. Scorsese has also worked with Leonardo DiCaprio in films like Gangs of New York and The Departed.
AFI's 10 Top 10 Gangster Films[change | change source]
|3||The Godfather Part II||1974|
|5||Bonnie and Clyde||1967|
|8||The Public Enemy||1931|
Notable Gangster Films[change | change source]
For a more complete list of gangster films see List of Gangster Films.
1900s - 1930s[change | change source]
- Little Caesar (1931)
- The Pubic Enemy (1931)
- Scarface (1932)
- The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)
- Fury (1936)
- The Roaring Twenties (1939)
1940s - 1960s[change | change source]
- High Sierra (1941)
- T-Men (1947)
- I Walk Alone (1948)
- White Heat (1949)
- On the Waterfront (1954)
- The Killing (1956)
- Touch of Evil (1958)
- Some Like it Hot (1959)
- The League of Gentlemen (1960)
- West Side Story (1961)
- Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
- Point Blank (1967)
- The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)
- The Italian Job (1969)
1970s[change | change source]
- The French Connection (1971)
- Get Carter (1971)
- The Godfather (1972)
- Mean Streets (1973)
- The Sting (1973)
- Chinatown (1974)
- The Godfather: Part II (1974)
- Assault On Precinct 13 (1976)
- Bugsy Malone (1976)
- The Warriors (1979)
1980s[change | change source]
- The Long Good Friday (1980)
- Scarface (1983)
- The Outsiders (1983)
- Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
- A Better Tomorrow (1986)
- The Untouchables (1987)
- Black Rain (1989)
1990s[change | change source]
- Goodfellas (1990)
- King of New York (1990)
- Miller's Crossing (1990)
- Boyz n the Hood (1991)
- Reservoir Dogs (1992)
- Léon: The Professional (1994)
- Pulp Fiction (1994)
- Casino (1995)
- Heat (1995)
- The Usual Suspects (1995)
2000s - 2010s[change | change source]
- Snatch (2000)
- City of God (2002)
- Gangs of New York (2002)
- Road to Perdition (2002)
- A History of Violence (2005)
- The Departed (2006)
- American Gangster (2007)
- Eastern Promises (2007)
- American Hustle (2013)
- Gangster Squad (2013)
- John Wick (2014)
- Widows (2018)
- The Irishman (2019)
- West Side Story (2021)
References[change | change source]
- Williams, Eric. 2018. How to View and Appreciate Great Movies: Course GuidebookChantilly, VA: The Great Courses / The Teaching Co, p. 15-20.
- Guerrasio, Jason. "The 31 best gangster movies of all time, ranked". Insider. Retrieved 2022-07-11.
- "The best gangster movies of all time". Time Out Worldwide. Retrieved 2022-07-11.
- "Crime and Gangster Films". www.filmsite.org. Retrieved 2022-07-11.
- "The Era of Gangster Films | American Experience | PBS". www.pbs.org. Retrieved 2022-07-11.
- John Baxter, The Gangster Film (London: C. Tinling and Co. Ltd, 1970), p. 7.
- "AFI'S 100 YEARS…100 MOVIES — 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2022-07-25.