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7 Movies like Gangs of New York: Films from Scorsese

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Andy McKendry itcherMartin Scorsese is a notable American filmmaker and he has decades of experience when it comes to telling filmic stories. If you enjoy movies like Gangs of New York then here are some suggestions including Goodfellas, Mean Streets, and The Departed. ~ Andy McKendry

Scorsese’s Passion Project

Gangs of New York was a passion project for Martin Scorsese. Set in New York, it tells the story of life in the 1800s in a culturally divided city. Lines are drawn through street corners and gangsters rule the burgeoning metropolis.

It’s a violent film and one that considers many themes and topics that Scorsese helmed narratives often explore. There is gangland warfare, criminals operating outside of the law, and the eventual taming of this landscape by the forces of civilisation.

Here are some very American films similar to Gangs of New York – each one is a piece of narrative cinema from Martin Scorsese.


Movies Similar to ‘Gangs of New York’…

‘Goodfellas’ (Martin Scorsese, 1990)

Perhaps one of Scorsese’s most famous films, Goodfellas tells the story of Mafia wise guys. It’s a film that belongs to a specific era and chapter of human history and it chronicles a time of organised crime, the pressures of the law, and the fraternity of Mafia life.

There are great visual sequences and many filmmakers have attempted to imitate the distinctive stylistic approach Scorsese adopted in Goodfellas. But no one has really come close and the film stands as perhaps the best indicator of Martin Scorsese’s crime infused directorial gaze.

Don’t forget to also have a look at these other films like ‘Goodfellas’.

Similarity Match: 90%
A different time populated by different people but both Gangs of New York and Goodfellas tell stories of crime, success, and the eventual conflict that comes along courtesy of living a life of violence.

‘Mean Streets’ (Martin Scorsese, 1973)

Mean Streets is sort of like the blueprint for Scorsese’s career. It established the director’s specific narrative concerns and introduced audiences to his future work in the process. There’s the inventive and creative camera work, the film is set in New York City, and the characters are violent gangsters.

And there’s also the inclusion of Robert De Niro. The actor worked often with Scorsese and until Leonardo Di Caprio came of age, De Niro was the actor most associated with Scorsese’s work.

Similarity Match: 80%
Mean Streets is a tale of money and power and it shares narrative concerns with Gangs of New York – both films focus on a neighbourhood in New York City and tell tall tales of the criminals who lived there.

‘The Departed’ (Martin Scorsese, 2006)

The Departed (find more great similar films here) takes place in Boston, instead of New York City, and it’s adapted from Hong Kong set crime movie Infernal Affairs. It marks a distinctly collaborative moment in Scorsese’s career and it stars Leonardo Di Caprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Mark Wahlberg.

Although it’s set in a different city, The Departed is just as concerned with place as any other film from Scorsese. In a more structural sense perhaps, The Departed shares similarities with the melting pot of culture, violence, and influence found in Gangs of New York’s narrative and setting.

Similarity Match: 70%
The Departed isn’t quite the departure from Scorsese’s work that it might initially seem; instead it’s a story that will be immediately familiar to audiences – that of men trying to navigate a dangerous world rife with criminality.

‘Casino’ (Martin Scorsese, 1995)

This is the eighth collaboration between Scorsese and Robert De Niro (the pair haven’t worked together since). Casino is a glitzy tale of life in a Las Vegas casino. It’s a film adapted from a true-story novel written by Nicholas Pileggi.

This isn’t a film about the dangerous and dirty world of organised crime. Instead it’s a wealthy, opulent, and moneyed story of criminals trying to become legitimate. There are of course moments of real violence and Casino finds its tone in the juxtaposition between bright lights and what they reveal.

Similarity Match: 70%
Casino is Gangs of New York all grown up – the pettiness of street violence is still evident but the tribalism has given way to naked ambition and capitalistic aspirations.


If You Like ‘Gangs of New York’, You Will Like…

The above list of films show a Martin Scorsese who has a fixation on the violent world of organised crime. However he’s a versatile director who has worked on films within a variety of disparate and diverse genres.

I’ve listed some other movies like Gangs of New York. The following Scorsese films have different concerns but share stylistic similarities with the director’s organised crime focused work.

‘Taxi Driver’ (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

This American New Wave film is hard hitting and it documents the story of a man unhappy with his life and nursing psychotic delusions about who is to blame. It’s a story of late night New York City, insomnia, and violence and it stars Robert De Niro too.

Taxi Driver reflects its time and place and instead of a story of gangland fraternities it focuses on a dangerous man going it alone.

‘Raging Bull’ (Martin Scorsese, 1980)

Raging Bull is another collaboration between Scorsese and Robert De Niro. This one tells the story of a middleweight boxer with aspirations of the middleweight crown. It’s a sort of realist Rocky and De Niro lost and put on tremendous amounts of weight to portray his character accurately.

Raging Bull is a strong statement regarding the aptitude of Robert De Niro as an actor – he’s a movie star willing to put his all into creating filmic art.

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street is a hedonistic tale of white-collar crime. It stars Leonardo Di Caprio in a nuanced portrait of a man driven by excess and the allure of the good life.

Don’t forget to also have a look at these other movies like ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.

Martin Scorsese’s heavily stylised tale of excess in Wall Street isn’t that dissimilar to the story found in Gangs of New York – the world has changed but the people have not.


My Thoughts

Personally I would recommend watching any of the films on this list. Martin Scorsese is a compelling filmmaker and his work speaks for itself. Whether he is telling tales of criminality or people trying to make it in the world, his stories are always ones of aspiration with a focus on the human characters at the heart of the narrative.

Let me know your thoughts with a comment below.

I’m a writer. It’s what I do and what I′ve always done. As a child I wrote on walls with a crayon. Now I write for websites. I write for my blog where I post reviews of films, TV, and occasionally write short stories and I also run a writer and illustration collective. Whatever I do involves words, and plenty of them. I’m an avid cinephile, a screenwriter, and I love telling stories. I have an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University, UK, and I work on a freelance basis and drink far too much coffee.
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