gangs The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Gangster Movies  

Ranker Film
141 votes 38 voters 25 items

List Rules Vote up the gangster, mob, and mafia movies that define the genre and should be required viewing for beginners in an Intro to Gangster Movies class.

Let's face it - gangster movies are a staple of American cinema. Some of the most famous and critically acclaimed films in American history are about organized crime. These are gangster movies everyone should watch, regardless of whether the topic interests you inherently. If you want to know film, consider this an intro to gangster movies to get yourself educated! 

When it comes to crime, there's nothing quite as intriguing as organized crime. Organizations like the Mafia have captivated the imagination of filmmakers, giving us timeless must-see hits. Essential mob movies help define and shape the genre Americans know and love, portraying morally ambiguous - and occasionally downright evil - casts of characters. Each of the below films contributed something unique to the genre. The Godfather trilogy - which remains one of the most popular franchises of all time - began America's fascination with the gangster film, portraying a romanticized version of a life of crime in New York City. Over a decade later, Martin Scorsese changed the game with Goodfellas - a grittier and more realistic look at the Mafia. This switch to de-glamorize the gangster genre led to the groundbreaking television series The Sopranos. 

Give some of these gangster films for beginners a watch! Then, vote up your favorites below. 

1 11 VOTES

Goodfellas


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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. The film narrates the rise and fall of Lucchese crime family associate Henry Hill and his friends over a period from 1955 to 1980. Initially naming the film Wise Guy, Scorsese postponed making it; later, he and Pileggi changed the name to Goodfellas. To prepare for their roles in the film, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta often spoke with Pileggi, who shared research material left over from writing the book. According to Pesci, improvisation and ad-libbing came out of rehearsals where ...more

Actors: Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta, Paul Sorvino, + more

Initial Release: 1990

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

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#38 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#44 on The Best Rainy Day Movies

#7 on The Best Movies of All Time

#7 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

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2 14 VOTES

The Godfather Saga


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The Godfather Saga is a TV miniseries that combines The Godfather and The Godfather Part II into one film. It originally aired on NBC over four consecutive nights in November 1977. The Godfather Saga is also known as The Godfather: The Complete Novel for Television, The Godfather: A Novel for Television, and The Godfather Novella. The television version was the basis for a shorter, 1981 video release known as The Godfather 1902–1959: The Complete Epic. Following the release of The Godfather Part III in 1990, a third unified version was released to video in 1992 entitled The Godfather Trilogy: 1901–1980. ...more

Actors: John Cazale, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Talia Shire

Initial Release: 1977

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

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3 10 VOTES

Pulp Fiction


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Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American black comedy crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, from a story by Tarantino and Roger Avary. The film is known for its eclectic dialogue, ironic mix of humor and violence, nonlinear storyline, and a host of cinematic allusions and pop culture references. The film was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture; Tarantino and Avary won for Best Original Screenplay. It was also awarded the Palme d'Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. A major critical and commercial success, it revitalized the career of its leading man, John Travolta, who received an Academy Award nomination, as did costars Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman. Directed in a ...more

Actors: John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Walken, + more

Initial Release: 1994

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Also Ranked

#18 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#59 on The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

#3 on The Best Movies of All Time

#10 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

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4 14 VOTES

The Departed


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The Departed is a 2006 American crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by William Monahan. It is a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg, with Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, and Alec Baldwin in supporting roles. A critical and commercial success, the film won several awards, including four Oscars at the 79th Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing. Wahlberg was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. The film takes place in Boston. Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello plants Colin Sullivan as a mole ...more

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, + more

Initial Release: 2006

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Also Ranked

#43 on The Best Movies of All Time

#12 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

#6 on The Best Movies of the '00s

#11 on The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies

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