10 Good Mob Movies

Friday, September 10, 2010 at 1:05 pm

If you’ve ever fantasized about “whacking” a potential witness or operating a Tommy Gun, then this list of 10 good mob movies should be right up your alley. There’s long been a fascination with mobsters in the movies, largely because they flaunt the rules of society and seem willing to issue a beatdown at the slightest provocation. Since most of our readers are law-abiding citizens, watching these bad men at work is the closest they’ll ever come to a life a crime.

The next time you’re ready to watch a good mob movie, you should consider Netflix. They have over 100,000 films to choose from, and plenty of them involve the Sicilian mob, the Irish mob, the Russian mob, and any other type of mob you can imagine. There are no late fees to worry about, and selections are delivered right to your mailbox via the United States Postal Service. Click here to become a Netflix member.

Goodfellas (1990) – Ever since his graduation from film school, director Martin Scorsese has been delivering one gritty tale after another to eager fans of the cinema. Goodfellas is one of his finest works, beginning with a brutal massacre in the trunk of a car, and ending on an ironic note in the suburbs. In between, Ray Liotta portrays criminal Henry Hill and his rise through the ranks of the underworld. Joe Pesci steals the show as a hot-headed psychopath, and Robert De Niro is quietly calculating but equally dangerous. As Hill falls into drug use, notice how the editing of each scene become more manic. Brilliant stuff from a director at the top of his game.

A Prophet (2009) – This Oscar-nominated French crime thriller centers around Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim), a teenager who winds up in prison and falls under the control of the Corsican mafia. As he gains the trust of the group’s violent leader, Malik receives day-long leaves outside the prison to conduct business on behalf of the mob. But Malik has a plan of his own, one that will eventually leave him beholden to no man. It’s fascinating to watch his transformation from blank slate to fully-formed character, and the positive critical response to the film was almost unanimous.

Prime Cut (1972) – Audiences watching Prime Cut in 1972 were stunned by what they saw on the screen: women sold into slavery, cattle being unloaded at a slaughterhouse and reduced to sausage links, and plenty of human-on-human violence. Lee Marvin plays an enforcer hired by the Irish mob to collect a $500,000 debt from a sinister Kansas City slaughterhouse owner named Mary Ann (Gene Hackman). Along the way, he’ll free a female slave (Sissy Spacek in her film debut), elude a combine in a wheat field, and get plenty of payback courtesy of a bitchin’ submachine gun. Largely forgotten by modern filmgoers, Prime Cut is grimy little gem just waiting to be re-discovered.

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) – A touching look at the destructive power of the criminal lifestyle. As two childhood pals grow to adulthood, one becomes a gangster (James Cagney) and the other a priest Pat O’Brien). When the hood begins operating in an area where the priest runs a home for wayward boys, the two former friends collide over the future of these youths. Cagney and O’Brien, good buddies off-screen, would make a total of nine pictures together, this being the sixth. Humphrey Bogart also appears as a crooked lawyer, a few years prior to his becoming a major Hollywood star.

Road to Perdition (2002) – Adapted from a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, this Depression-era film follows Michael Sullivan, Sr. (Tom Hanks), a mob enforcer, as he and his young son try to avoid death at the hands of a twisted assassin (Jude Law). Paul Newman plays the Irish crime boss who raised Sullivan like a son, and Daniel Craig is his violent and resentful heir. An entertaining period piece from director Sam Mendes.

The Godfather (1972) – Francis Ford Coppola secured his legacy as a filmmaker by adapting Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel to the big screen. Covering a decade in the life of the Corleone family, the film tells of the decline of patriarch Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando in an Oscar-winning performance) and the unlikely ascension of his son, Michael (Al Pacino). As you would expect from any mob movie, there are crooked cops, assassinations, betrayals, and lots of lots of greasy foods. The wonderful cast is rounded out by James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Abe Vigoda, Talia Shire, and John Cazale. Nominated for eight Oscars, it won three (including Best Picture).

Sexy Beast (2000) – When London crime boss Teddy Bass (Ian McShane) decides to pull of a jewel heist, he requires the services of master safe-cracker Gary “Gal” Dove (Ray Winstone). There’s only one problem: Dove is retired and happily living with his wife in Spain. So Bass dispatches the psychotic Don Logan (Ben Kingsley) to recruit the former thief by any means necessary. That’s when all hell breaks loose, and more than a few dead bodies will turn up before the final credits roll. Logan is absolutely mad, and viewers will be on the edge of their seats to see what he does next. On an interesting note, Kingsley stated that much of the character was based on his grandmother, who he referred to as a “vile and extremely unpleasant woman.”

Get Carter (1971) – While younger viewers may only remember Michael Caine for roles such as Alfred the Butler in the Batman franchise, his career has stretched back decades. In his earlier days, he also played a convincing badass, such as in this grim and gritty flick about Jack Carter, a mob enforcer who returns home to the overcast British city of Newcastle to investigate the supposedly accidental death of his brother. Carter’s revenge is swift and brutal, dispatching men and women alike with a look of resigned numbness. One of the greatest British gangster films even made, and guaranteed to make you look at Caine differently the next time he pops up in a butler’s outfit.

Little Caesar (1930) – Edward G. Robinson became a star following his turn as up-and-coming mobster Caesar Enrico Bandello, aka “Rico.” When he and best friend Joe (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) head to the big city to make their mark, it touches off a firestorm of betrayal, greed, and tragedy. Considered among the greatest mob movies ever made, it also features one of the more famous final lines in the history of cinema.

The Godfather Part II (1974) – While the original Godfather left audiences and critics speechless, this follow-up is often regarded as the finer of the two films. Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) struggles to maintain control of his criminal empire despite plots and betrayal at every turn. Meanwhile, flashbacks show a young Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) arriving as an immigrant to America and slowly establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with. An epic piece of filmmaking illustrating how history can grimly repeat itself.

I hope you enjoyed this look at 10 good mob movies. If you want to watch any (or all) of them, be sure to become a Netflix subscriber. We do get a small commission if you sign up, but it all goes right back into our website. Well, a little does get set aside for protection money, but that’s hardly worth mentioning.

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 10th, 2010 at 1:05 pm and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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January 4, 2011

Royal Opera House

Influenced by modern crime films and reimagined in the contemporary underground world of the Russian mafia; don’t miss the Royal Opera House’s first production of Rimsky-Koraskov’s tragic tale of Ivan the Terrible’s dark quest for a wife in The Tsar’s Bride. A highlight of the Season, it is a rare opportunity to see an operatic gem.

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