BY CARMELA FERRO
If it wasn’t obvious from my name, I’m part Italian, Sicilian to be even more specific. We’re prideful people, fierce and loyal and a lot of famous gangsters hailed from the homeland. I really love gangster films, maybe it’s the Italian pride, or that most of the characters remind me of my cousins, but most likely it’s the fact that these guys are just badass. Lots of people have a fascination with crime culture so it’s no wonder that there are a lot of great gangster films out there. With so many to choose from I had a hell of a time taking a whack at picking just 5. (Sorry couldn’t resist!)
So, because it was so difficult for me to nail them down, I decided to pay tribute to my main old man crush Martin Scorsese. In honour of the release of Gangster Squad, here are five gangster films you should definitely hit up.
5) Mean Streets (1973)
Harvey Keitel plays Charlie, a young Italian-American man who tries to move up in the New York Mafia but is hindered by his reckless friend, Johnny Boy played by Robert De Niro. This film received rave reviews and recognition and is hailed as the breakthrough for Scorsese and De Niro’s stellar careers.
4) Goodfellas (1990)
Once you’ve seen this film it’s pretty easy to see why many people tote it as the best gangster movie of all time. Scorsese teams up with Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci to tell the story of the Lucchese crime family, associate Henry Hill and his good friends from 1955 to 1980. The film was deemed culturally significant and has been preserved in the National Film Registry. Super awesome fun fact: AMC announced last year that a television series based on the film is slated for development.
3) Casino (1995)
The boys are back in this based-on-a-true-story about the Chicago Outfit ruling the Vegas strip in the 1970s to early 80s. If you liked Goodfellas, you might enjoy this too, especially when you see how brilliantly Sharon Stone can play a cokehead mob wife. Really, all I can say about this movie other than the great cast is the suits, the suits, oh my god the suits!!! De Niro rocks suits in this movie like you’ve never seen, so see it.
2) Gangs of New York (2002)
This film takes us back to 1846 in Lower Manhattan’s Five Points during a territorial war between the US “Natives” and the recently immigrated Irish Catholics. The film’s violent confrontation between crime boss Bill “The Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio) culminates with the New York Draft Riots of 1863 in a bloody cinematic battle.
1) The Departed (2006)
In South Boston, Irish Mob boss Francis “Frank” Costello plants an informant within the Massachusetts State Police squad. At the same time the police have assigned William “Billy” Costigan as an undercover cop to infiltrate Costello’s crew. This setup provides for some serious shit to go down for both sides and it’s well worth the watch. This film is so well done in so many ways and it didn’t go unnoticed. After years of Academy Award nominations Scorsese finally took one home for Best Director for The Departed. Although the good fellas weren’t present for this one, you can’t go wrong with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin.
Other notable and obvious gangster films to watch: The Godfather Trilogy, Scarface, Donnie Brasco, Snatch, The Town, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs…