Saturday, December 15, 2018

My Top 5 Favorite Gangster Flicks


I love gangster movies. Ever since I saw The Godfather when I was 8th grade, I've been enamored with the whole genre. Here are my top five favroite gangster movies of all time:

1.) The Godfather (1972): Any conversation about gangster films has to start with a discussion about this movie. Based on the novel by the late Mario Puzo and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather is so much more than a film about an aging patriarch (Marlon Brando as Don Corleone) transferring control of his crime family to his youngest and least-likely son (Al Pacino as Michael Corleone). The richness of the cinematography, the poetic dialogue, the perfectly crafted script and the almost rhythmic pacing of this film all work together to make it by far the finest mobster movie ever made. With great performances by James Caan as Sonny Corleone, the hot-headed philandering son; Robert Duvall as the family consigliore, and John Cazale as Fredo Corleone, the weak-willed brother, all contribute to a wonderful tail of trust, respect, treachery and revenge. The most memorable scenes: The horse head in the bed and Clemenza teaching Michael how to make spaghetti.

2.) Goodfellas (1990): Based on the book by Nicholas Pileggi and directed by Martin Scorsese, this film is a classic for many reasons, including the sets, the music and memorable performances by Robert De Niro (Jimmy Conway), Ray Liotta (Henry Hill) and Joe Pesci (Tommy De Vito). It'ss based on the true story of Hill, who got busted and ratted out his entire family. There's a lot of blood, cocaine and larceny in this epic, but Scorsese knows how to do it right, primarily because he grew up with a lot of the guys this movie is based on. From the opening shot all the way to the final scene, Goodfellas weaves a story together that is compelling, disturbing, but most of all 'damn entertaining. The most memorable scenes: When family boss Paul Cicero (played by Paul Sorvino) has to turn his back on Henry Hill, and the scene where Pesci shoots Spider (played by Michael Imperioli, who later became a star in the HBO show, the Sopranos) for mouthing off at him while serving drinks at a poker game.

3.) Casino (1995): Another Martin Scorsese film based on a book by Nicholas Pileggi, Casino is the story of Sam "Ace" Rothstein, played by Robert De Niro. It's actually loosely based on the story of Left Rosenthal, a big-time real-life Las Vegas gangster/gambler who ran into trouble when he got a little too big for his britches. Joe Pesci is with De Niro once again in this one, playing the out-of-control Nicky Santoro. One of the best things about this film is that Scorsese cast a bunch of comics in bit roles, including Alan King, Kevin Pollock, Dick Smothers and Don Rickles. The only thing I don't like about this movie is the over-acting of Sharon Stone, who plays the whining, drug addled Mrs. Rothstein. I have never cared for Sharon Stone, and when I think about the fact that she got an academy award nomination for this one, I have to believe the voters were high that year. The most memorable scenes: The horrific scene where Nicky and his brother are killed with baseball bats and buried in a corn field semi-alive, and the one where Nicky loses control playing blackjack and insults and threatens the dealers. I've always wanted to do that!

4.) Donnie Brasco (1997): This movie was written by Paul Attanasio, based on the book by Joseph Pistone, so I guess I'm just a little biased. Al Pacino plays Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero, a sweetheart of a mobster who is loyal to a fault but not all that bright. Johnny Depp plays Pistone, aka Donnie Brasco, an undercover FBI agent who gets into a big New York mob family and almost becomes the first federal agent ever to become a made man. Great performances by Michael Madsen as Sonny Black and the late Bruno Kirby as Nicky really make this one special. Some of the dialog in this film is priceless, like the conversation these goombas have about which is a better car - a Lincoln or a Cadillac. One thing I don't care for in this one is the storyline where they show the family problems Pistone is having due to the fact that he's working undercover and never home. Anne Heche plays his wife, who is upset all the time and a real pain in the rear. No wonder Pistone's on the road all the time. I'd risk my life to get out of that house and away from her too! The most memorable scenes: When the boys give Lefty a pet lion and feed it hamburgers, and the scene where Pistone/Brasco almost gets his cover blown by another agent at the airport.

5.) Scarface (1983): More of a cartoon than a movie, Scarface qualifies for my top five even though Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino, isn't Italian. He's a Cuban exile who works his way up the crime ladder by dealing blow, killing everyone in his path and dropping more f-bombs than Andrew Dice Clay. Directed by Brain De Palma with a screenplay written by Oliver Stone, this movie is about a man who rises to the pinnacle of gangster-dom rapidly and then falls just as fast. Awesome performances by Mary Elizabeth Mastriantonio as Tony's sister and Michelle Pfeiffer as his coked-out wife make this film a dizzying spectacle from beginning to end. The most memorable scenes: Tony Montana with the bazooka gun, yelling to his killers "Say hello to my little friend" as they descend on him in his mansion, and the scene in the restaurant when Michelle Pfeiffer tells him, "Nothing exceeds like excess Tony. You should know that."

Runners-up: A Bronx Tale, Carlito's Way, The Departed and Godfather II.

About the Writer

Ed Attanasio is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on My Top 5 Favorite Gangster Flicks

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By LoveChef on May 01, 2010 at 05:07 pm

The Godfather got it done because it had to get it done. Top ratings for this article, because it's well-written on every level. You brought your A game and you sold it like a Girl Scout pushing cookies! Nice!

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