Gangster movie genre has always found its space within different eras from the Hollywood film industry. It can be said that the world today is aware of different gangster mafia and the way they operate only after watching some of top Hollywood gangster movies of all time.
Although these Hollywood gangster movies are primarily based on the criminal organization known as Mafia, you can often draw some kind of inspiration from these movies or its characters. Not all the lead characters in these movies fit as role models, yet there are some who have gone down in the history of Hollywood as some of the most influential characters portrayed on the big screen.
There are a number of Hollywood films based around gangster mafia, however, we decided to sort the full list and picked only those which don’t just create an impact on the audience, but also is different from one another in terms of story, theme or character portrayals.
Well, most of us focus on the ruthless side of this mafia, these Hollywood gangster movies, on the other hand, draw our attention towards their personal lives, human values and try to give us a better or clearer picture about why these individuals choose a path that either ends in early death or imprisonment.
Simply grab all the movies listed below and try watching them one by one if you are a gangster movie fan. If not, I would still recommend watching these films as a Filmy Keeday and learn a bit more about the gangster life through them.
Best Hollywood Gangster Movies
The Godfather (1972)
There’s no way this list can be completed without the Godfather movies. Thus, we have the 1972 Hollywood film The Godfather on top of the list. Starring Marlon Brando in the titular role as The Godfather alongside Al Pacino, who portrayed as his son in the movie, the film is about the family of Vito Corleone, played by Brando, and his rivalry with other New York-based crime families. Despite Marlon Brando’s character being the real Godfather, the film can be termed as the stepping stone for Al Pacino’s character, who takes up the charge as the new Don Corleone after his father’s death and becomes The Godfather.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, the 1990 American crime film Goodfellas is one of the marvels from the legend himself, who is popular for his crime based gangster films. Well, Goodfellas is no different from a typical Martin Scorsese film. The film is based on a real story inspired by the non-fiction book Wiseguy written by Nicholas Pileggi, who also wrote the screenplay of Goodfellas with Scorsese. The movie talks about the ascension and the collapse of the mob associate Henry Hill and his friends set in between 1955 and 1980.
The Godfather II (1974)
Well, if The Godfather I was about the fall of Vito Corleone and the rise of Michael Corleone, the second film in the series, The Godfather II narrates the story set within two different timelines making it both a prequel and a sequel to its previous movie. Yes, the 1974 Hollywood film, The Godfather II, picks up from the final events of the last movie following the life of Michael Corleone as the new Don of Corleone family. However, in a parallel storyline, the film also tells us the journey of Vito Corleone, portrayed by Robert De Niro, from his upbringing in Sicily, Italy to the establishment of his crime empire in the New York City.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
A Quentin Tarantino film, Pulp Fiction stars John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, and Uma Thurman. The film has generated a massive cult following over the years for its amazing screenplay, brilliant acting and most importantly, the graphic violence and punchy dialogues. The film also builds the career of the filmmaker Quentin Tarantino giving him an iconic status among the leading filmmakers in the industry. In addition to that, Pulp Fiction also helped in rejuvenating the careers of Travolta, Jackson, and Thurman.
The Departed (2006)
Another Martin Scorsese film, The Departed is an excellent film for anyone, who wants to witness conspiracies and plotting. The film depicts an ongoing war between the police force and the mafia. Although, the conflict being the highlight of the film, The Departed is much deeper than any other crime action thriller. The film narrates the story of two young men, who play moles for their respective team infiltrating two opposite worlds. A series of incidents is then followed by the teams to find the double agent. It may sound a bit confusing, but it is better to watch the film by yourself and try to unravel the complete mystery. The film stars an ensemble cast that includes Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, Vera Farmiga and many others.