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Sunday, March 15, 2015

101 Gangster Films I Must See Before I Die

Tommy guns and prohibition, molls and wise guys, dirty rats and smoke-filled speakeasies, the price of ambition, the chair, the Feds, caskets of illicit rum smuggled across the border only to be busted open by the pick-axe of an overzealous cop. The gangster film had its heyday in the 1930s, and though most gangster protagonists died in a hail of police bullets or strapped to the electric chair, they were nonetheless the working-class heroes of these subversive movies, chasing the American Dream with the only means at their disposal: cunning, guile, and violence.

My introduction to the gangster genre came in the form of one of the three film studies courses I took at the University of Alberta; I remain grateful for the exposure, because the form is rich in meaning and possibility. I've seen a lot of gangster films, as the list below reveals, and yet there's still so much more to explore.

So far I've shared my progress on four of the recommended genre lists compiled by the editors of 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die: science fiction, action, horror and war. Here are the gangster movies I've seen (marked in bold type) and those I must see before I croak "Is this...the end...of Earl?"

The Musketeers of Pig Alley
Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler
The Racket
Little Caesar
City Streets
The Public Enemy
Scarface: The Shame of a Nation
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
Manhattan Melodrama
The Petrified Forest
Bullets or Ballots
Pepe Le Moko
Marked Woman
Dead End
Angels with Dirty Faces
Each Dawn I Die
The Roaring Twenties
High Sierra
This Gun for Hire
The Glass Key
The Killers
The Big Sleep
Kiss of Death
Brighton Rock
I Walk Alone
Drunken Angel
Key Largo
Force of Evil
White Heat
They Live by Night
Gun Crazy
The Enforcer
The Lavender Hill Mob
The Big Heat
The Big Combo
The Killing
Bob le Flambeur
Touch of Evil
Al Capone
The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond
The 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse
Underworld USA
Branded to Kill
The St. Valentine's Day Massacre
Bonnie and Clyde
Point Blank
The Brotherhood
Bloody Mama
Get Carter
The French Connection
The Godfather
Mean Streets
Thieves Like Us
The Godfather Part II
Bugsy Malone
Atlantic City
The Long Good Friday
Once Upon a Time in America
Prizzi's Honor
A Better Tomorrow
The Untouchables
The Krays
King of New York
Miller's Crossing
The Grifters
New Jack City
Boyz N The Hood
American Me
Reservoir Dogs
Menace II Society
A Bronx Tale
Carlito's Way
Pulp Fiction
The Usual Suspects
Get Shorty
Donnie Brasco
L.A. Confidential
Short Sharp Shock
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Sexy Beast
Road to Perdition
Gangs of New York
The Departed
Eastern Promises

40 out of 101. For a gangster, that's too small a share of the pie. 

1 comment:

Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

Cool list! I was really surprised to see the all-child, pie-throwing, pedal-powered Bugsy Malone included, for sure.

Road to Perdition is another interesting choice, considering it is a movie based on a comic, which in turn is based on another comic, in this case, the sublime Lone Wolf & Cub. It updates to gangland surprisingly well.

Miller`s Crossing is probably my third favourie gangster film after Godfathers I/II and Goodfellas; the Coens at the top of their respective games, and it's nice to see the Irish mob for a change.