Martin Scorsay’s new film The Irishman is already in theatres for some lucky filmmakers, but most of us will have to wait until November 27 to watch it on Netflix. The much-acclaimed film is Robert Ni Nero’s mafia hitman Frank Sheeran alongside Scorssey’s latest gangster/dacoity crime film alongside De Niro and Joe Pesky.
The Irishman was actually the first time Scorsese worked with Al Pacino, but the entire film team is very familiar with the mob film genre. Every Monday I recommend streaming-worth of stuff, and today I’m focusing on 11 films that describe how good it feels to be a gangster.
If we are talking about Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, then you have to start with Mean Streets. Scorsese made her feature film directorial debut in 1967’s What’s Knocking-in My Door, starring Harvey Keitel and Kettel returned for Scorsese’s classic crime film Mean Streets. The 1973 film gave Scorsese co-writing credits and a cameo and began his career as a respected filmmaker, as well as his long-term partnership with De Niro.
One of the all-time gangster classics. Goodfellas vs. The Godfather or Godfather Part II as the best of the genre? It is worth a debate. Like Mean Streets, Goodfellas was also directed by Martin Scorsese and starred by Robert De Niro. The 1990 crime film adapted Nicholas Pilgee’s book Wiseguy, the true story of the robbery Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta in the film. Joe Pesky won his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Tommy DeVito, and the film won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay (again for Scorsie), Best Supporting Actress for Lorraine Bracco, and Best Film Also earned a nomination for editing.
The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and Godfather Part III
I am putting all three Godfather films together, even if some fans stop after Part II. Francis Ford Coppola directed the iconic Mafia films based on Mario Pujo’s novel following the Corleone family.
Al Pacino played Michael Corleone in all three films, with Robert De Niro winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in Part II as the young Vito Corleone. The two actors will not actually share a scene together until The Heat takes place. The Godfather is still considered one of the greatest films of any genre. I am one of those people who will debate the second film.
In 1995, Martin Scorsese brought back Robert De Niro and Joe Pesky, who co-wrote the film’s script with Scorsie, for this gangster film based on a book by Nicholas Pilgi. This time, De Niro plays “Ace” Rothstein, who is sent to Las Vegas by a crime syndicate called Chicago Outfit to run Tangiers Casino. Since Goodfellas had come out five years earlier, some critics and viewers couldn’t help but compare the two Scorsese films, making this one more desirable. But now that more time has passed, modern audiences will not have the same associations.
Al Pacino has a tremendous range as an actor, but he finds himself as the head of gangster films – from The Godfather and Carlito’s Way to Scarface. Brian De Palma directed the 1983 movie from the screenplay by Oliver Stone, a remake of the 1932 Scarface movie by Howard Hawks.
Al Pacino plays the role of Cuban refugee Tony Montana, with Michelle Feffer acting as a serious star in the role of Elvira Hancock. The film was initially mixed with some backlash due to being deemed as highly graphic material. It is now considered one of the best remakes of all time. Say “hello” to my small cinematic reenactment?
once Upon a Time
Robert De Niro as Noodles, opposite James Woods as Max in Stars Leon’s 1984 gangster film, is a pre-Prohibition era Jewish gangster film after 30 years of confronting the ghosts of his past New York returns to the neighborhood. This was Leon’s final film before he died, and the third time Once Upon a Time Trilogy was Once Upon a Time in West and Once Upon a Time … Revolution (also known as A Fistful of Dynamite and Duck, You). Sucker!). Once Upon a Time in America is epic in every sense. The director’s cut was 250 minutes. The theatrical version was 229 minutes, with a controversial edit reducing it to 139 minutes.
It was only a matter of time before Robert De Niro played the role of gangster Al Capone. He plays a big role in Brian De Palma’s 1987 film The Untouchables, which tells the story of Kevin Costner’s team led by Eliot Ness. He worked hard to bring Capone through the tax evasion sentence – albeit in the most anticatalytic manner, during prohibition. It is worth a look once again for the classic Union Station shootout scene, inspired by the Odessa Steps scene in Battleship Potemkin:
gangs of New York
I can’t call myself the biggest fan of Martin Scorsese’s 2002 film, but it was nominated for 10 Oscars and Daniel Day-Lewis always knows how to put on the show. I appreciated the discovery of five-point slums in Manhattan in the mid-19th century – a short covered time and place in American history. It was the first of three films in a row that Leonardo DiCaprio made with Scorsese – followed by The Aviator and The Departed.
Sometimes it’s good to get a fresh outlook on the gangster genre – Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and away from the usual suspects. Ridley Scott directed and produced the gritty winner, from a script by Steven Zillion, based on real-life gangster Frank Lucas.
Daniel Washington played Frank in the 2007 film, which had a strong supporting cast with Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Brolin, and Ted Levine. American Gangster received strong reviews and grossed well, although the film had some gripes about taking liberties with real-life events. Hey, this is a movie!
road to Perdition
This beautiful shot is a 2002 Sam Mendes film set in depression in the 1930s, following the promoter of Tom Hanks for the Irish crowd. Paul Newman played the role of John John Rooney in a packed film with a strong performance – most notably from Daniel Craig in his first leading performance roles.
Interestingly, this is not just a gangster film, it is a comic book movie; David Self’s screenplay was based on the comics of Max Allen Collins. Conrad L. Hall won the posthumous Oscar for Best Cinematography for the film, which was also nominated in several other categories, including Best Supporting Actor for Paul Newman.
Al Pacino plays the role of gangster Lefty, who shows the mafia ways to Donnie Brasco (Johnny Depp) in Mike Newell’s 1997 mob film. Paul Attanasio’s screenplay was based on the true story of an FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the Bonno crime family in New York in the 1970s. The film was praised for its screenplay and performance and earned solid at the box office, even with a decent amount of gangster film competition in the mid-’90s.