Best Movies The Top 25 Must-See Quintessential Gangster Movies  

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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. 

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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 on Wikipedia

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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#19 on The Best Movies Based on Books

#41 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#6 on The Best Movies with Only One Word for a Title

#6 on The Best Movies of All Time

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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 on Wikipedia

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

Initial Release: 1977

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

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Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film directed by Quentin Tarantino. The lives of two mob hitmen (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta), a boxer (Bruce Willis), a gangster's wife (Uma Thurman), and a pair of diner bandits (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer) intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption. ...more on Wikipedia

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

Initial Release: 1994

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

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#55 on The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

#2 on The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time

#68 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#20 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

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The Departed is a 2006 American crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, and a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello (Jack Nicholson) plants Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) as a mole within the Massachusetts State Police, while the police assign undercover state trooper William "Billy" Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) to infiltrate Costello's crew. ...more on Wikipedia

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

Initial Release: 2006

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

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#12 on The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies

#42 on The Best Movies of All Time

#11 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

#66 on The Greatest Movies for Guys

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