Entertainment

The Best Gangster Biopics  

Ranker Film
3.9k votes 738 voters 20.4k views 20 items

List Rules Vote up the best true biographical movies about people in gangs and the mafia

The gangster holds a special place in the popular imagination, so it’s no surprise that gangster films are some of the most popular and oft-discussed movies in Hollywood history. Dating all the way back to the Pre-Code days of moviemaking, gangsters have appeared on the silver screen, pulling Tommy guns out of violin cases, terrorizing citizens, smuggling liquor, and otherwise dabbling in all manner of horribly thrilling criminal activity.

What are the best gangster biopics of all time? Many great actors have tried their hand at portraying famous gangsters. In American Gangster, Denzel Washington portrays New York City cocaine kingpin Frank Lucas, and Russell Crowe plays the cop out to take him down. Featuring original music by Jay-Z, the film went on win numerous awards and accolades. Also on this list of the greatest gangster biopics, you will find The Untouchables. Although the film follows the exploits of Elliott Ness, the Treasury Department agent tasked with taking down organized crime in Chicago, Brian de Palma’s classic picture portrays Al Capone, played by the always great Robert DeNiro.

One of the top gangster biopics ever is Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. The story of Henry Hill, a mobster involved in a 1970s airport heist, the movie stars heavyweights like Ray Liotta, Joe Peschi, and Robert DeNiro. Vote up the best gangster biopics below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 

list ordered by
1
Goodfellas is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese. ...more
2
The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
The Untouchables is a 1987 American drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet. Based on the book The Untouchables, the film stars Kevin Costner as government agent Eliot ...more
3
Donnie Brasco is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Donnie Brasco is a 1997 American film directed by Mike Newell and starring Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, James Russo, and Anne Heche appeared in supporting roles. The ...more
4
American Gangster is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
American Gangster is a 2007 American biographical crime film directed and produced by Ridley Scott and written by Steven Zaillian. The film is based on the criminal career of Frank Lucas, a ...more
5
Blow is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Blow is a 2001 American biopic about the American smuggler George Jung, directed by Ted Demme. David McKenna and Nick Cassavetes adapted Bruce Porter's 1993 book for the screenplay. It is based ...more
6
Black Mass is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Black Mass is a 2015 American biographical crime drama film directed by Scott Cooper, based on the 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by ...more
7
Gangs of New York is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Gangs of New York is a 2002 American fictionalized historical drama film set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of Lower Manhattan in 1863. The film was directed by Martin ...more
8
Public Enemies is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Public Enemies is a 2009 American film directed by Michael Mann and written by Mann, Ronan Bennett and Ann Biderman. It is an adaptation of Bryan Burrough's non-fiction book. Set during the ...more
9
Bonnie and Clyde is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Bonnie and Clyde is a 1967 American biographical film directed by Arthur Penn and starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the title characters Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. The film ...more
10
The Iceman is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
The Iceman is an American crime thriller film based on the true story of longtime notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski. Released in 2013 at the Venice Film Festival, the film was directed by Ariel ...more
11
The Assassination of Jesse Jam... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
This film is a 2007 American western drama film written and directed by Andrew Dominik. Adaptated from Ron Hansen's 1983 novel of the same name, the film dramatizes the relationship between ...more
12
Hoodlum is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
This film is a 1997 drama film written by Chris Brancato and directed by Bill Duke.
13
Bugsy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Bugsy is a 1991 American drama film directed by Barry Levinson which tells the story of mobster Bugsy Siegel. It stars Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould, ...more
14
Hoffa is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Mralienplayz added
Hoffa is a 1992 French-American biographical film directed by Danny DeVito and written by David Mamet, based on the life of Teamsters Union leader Jimmy Hoffa. Jack Nicholson plays Hoffa, and ...more
15
Legend is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Legend is a 1985 British-American fantasy adventure film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert, and ...more
16
Kill the Irishman is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
This film is a 2011 biographical thriller film directed by Jonathan Hensleigh and starring Ray Stevenson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer. It was in development hell for ...more
17
Dillinger is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Dillinger is a 1973 gangster film about the life and criminal exploits of notorious bank robber John Dillinger. It stars Warren Oates as Dillinger and Ben Johnson as his pursuer, FBI Agent ...more
18
Dillinger and Capone is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Dillinger and Capone is a 1995 action crime drama film directed by Jon Purdy and written by Michael B. Druxman.
19
The Valachi Papers is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
The Valachi Papers is a 1972 crime movie starring Charles Bronson and Lino Ventura and directed by Terence Young. Adapted from the book The Valachi Papers by Peter Maas, it tells the true story ...more
20
Lansky is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Gangster Biopics
Lansky is a 1999 American made-for-television crime drama film. Directed by John McNaughton, it stars Richard Dreyfuss as the famous gangster Meyer Lansky, Eric Roberts as Bugsy Siegel, and Ryan ...more