Good Crime Movies Featuring Italians

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 8:59 am

If you’re a fan of pasta and shooting snitches in the face, give these good crime movies featuring Italians a try. In the beginning, the criminal life is almost always portrayed as glamorous and tinged with danger, but a darker layer is revealed as the stories progress. Before you know it, the protagonist is beset by enemies on all sides, and he often comes to a not-so-romantic end (also known as “sleeping with the fishes”).

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Donnie Brasco (1997) – Based on the real-life story of FBI agent Joe Pistone who infiltrated a New York crime family using the alias Donnie Brasco, the film stars Johnny Depp as Pistone and Al Pacino as Lefty Ruggiero, the disillusioned hitman who introduced him into mob society. As the wealthy lifestyle and disregard for the law begins to sink in, Donnie must struggle with moral temptation and the knowledge that Lefty will be killed by the mafia for unwittingly letting a fed into their ranks. Michael Madsen and Anne Heche co-star.

Goodfellas (1990) – With all apologies to Francis Ford Coppola, this Martin Scorsese mob movie is the best ever produced about living a life of crime. Following the rise and eventual fall of gangster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), the movie crackles with energy, crisp dialogue (much of which was improvised), and plenty of trademark in-your-face Scorsese violence. Joe Pesci will always be known as the psychotic Tommy DeVito. Now go get your shine box!

New Jack City (1991) – As crack use runs rampant on the streets of New York, drug lord Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) tries to stay one step ahead of cops Scotty Appleton (Ice-T) and Nick Peretti (Judd Nelson). While the primary characters are African-American, director Mario Van Peebles makes sure to throw in some pasta-loving Italian mobsters for them to butt heads with. Man, I was so glad to see Keisha finally get what was coming to her.

The Untouchables (1987) – Eliot Ness (a young Kevin Costner), an agent for the Treasury Department, is tasked with putting together a team to take down Chicago crime lord Al Capone (Robert De Niro). To that end, he recruits crack shot George Stone (Andy Garcia), veteran beat cop Jim Malone (Sean Connery in an Oscar-winning role), and bespectacled government accountant Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith). With his “Untouchables” assembled, Ness goes to war, but Capone isn’t about to back down. Billy Drago looks especially creepy in his role as ruthless killer Frank Nitti.

Mean Streets (1973) – If you want to see genius in the making, take a look at Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets. The film deals with two Italian-American pals, the ambitious Charlie (Harvey Keitel) and the self-destructive Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro), as they deal with issues of loyalty and redemption on the cruel streets of New York City. The film’s rough around the edges, but the signature Scorsese style is pervasive.

True Romance (1993) – After a comic book store clerk (Christian Slater) and his prostitute-turned-bride (Patricia Arquette) mistakenly steal a suitcase filled with cocaine from the mob, they head towards the safety of Los Angeles to live happily ever after. But the mob wants their cocaine back, and they dispatch a gangster named Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken) to locate the unconventional couple. Written by Quentin Tarantino, the film is filled with bizarre characters (including Val Kilmer as the spirit of Elvis, and Brad Pitt as a comical pothead), plenty of violence, and a heaping of sexuality/romance.

Out for Justice (1991) – Gino Felino (Steven Seagal) is a tough NYPD detective who goes on the warpath following the daylight murder of his partner by childhood acquaintance Richie Madano (William Forsythe). As Richie and his murderous crew dodge the cops and the mafia, Gino turns Brooklyn upside down in his quest for answers and revenge. Along the way, Gino reconciles with his wife, adopts a puppy, and uses a giant sausage to knock a guy unconscious.

The Godfather (1972) – Often ranked as one of the two greatest films in American history (along with Citizen Kane), The Godfather tells the story of the Corleone crime family, the decline of patriarch Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), and the rise to power of the family’s youngest son, Michael (Al Pacino). Featuring a respected cast, an epic soundtrack, and a theme revolving around the corrupting nature of power and crime, director Francis Ford Coppola would only come close to topping this film with the sequel, The Godfather Part II.

The Godfather Part II (1974) – Continuing the story of the Corleone family, this sequel also uses flashbacks to show the early life of Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) and how he came to be in the United States. Meanwhile, his son Michael (Pacino) navigates the family business through treacherous waters, including assassination attempts and betrayal from a member of his own family. If you liked the first movie, then this one is a lock.

A Bronx Tale (1993) – Set in the Bronx during the 1960s, the film marks the directorial debut of Robert DeNiro. Written by star Chazz Palminteri and based partially on his childhood, the movie tells the story of a local kid who’s befriended by a mob boss (Palminteri) after he refuses to rat him out to the cops. As their friendship deepens, the mobster teaches the kid about life, much to the chagrin of the boy’s hardworking father (De Niro). Adapted from Palminteri’s one-man show, the film also features soundtrack material from The Beatles, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Sinatra, Dean Martin, and others.

If you’d like to read more about good crime movies featuring Italians, you can either click on the links below, or visit Netflix and peruse their crime movies. If you sign up for their free trial membership, we’ll even get a small commission.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 at 8:59 am 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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