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Goodfellas (1990) is one hell of a film, telling the (mostly) true story of a real life descent into mob life as seen through the eyes of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), his friends and family, with a timeline spanning twenty-five years.
One of director Martin Scorsese’s best films, Goodfellas is widely considered as one of the best films ever made. The film weaves a complex narrative, and has frequently been praised for its honesty in portraying both the benefits and pitfalls of a mobster’s life. If you enjoyed Goodfellas, be sure to check out the other films on this list!
The Godfather is a cinematic classic, and provided many of the blueprints for all Mafiosi-centric films thereafter. The first of a legendary trilogy depicting the Corleone crime family and, in particular, the personal journey of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), the film also features a stellar performance from Marlon Brando as his father, mob boss and titular ‘godfather’ Vito Corleone.
The second of the Godfather trilogy is, arguably, a better film, but hats off to the one which kicked it all off – an atmospheric, claustrophobic masterpiece in its own right.
Scorsese returned to one of his favourite themes with The Departed, a new-millennium take on the corrupting influence of US mob rule. Instead of focusing on one central character the film tells the stories of two men ultimately consumed by their attempts at living a double life (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, respectively).
One is attempting to infiltrate an infamous gang to bring it down, the other is attempting to infiltrate the police force for much the same reason. It’s a masterful balancing act by a director who knows how to handle this subject matter.
Sound good? Make sure to also have a look at these other movies similar to ‘The Departed’.
Like Goodfellas before it, Casino, another great film by Martin Scorsese, gives us a glimpse not only of the horrors of life in the mob but a sense of the perceived importance of both loyalty and family within it.
Centred around crime-centric Las Vegas casinos in the 1970s and 1980s, the film is one of the most underrated of Scorsese’s career, and well worth a watch for fans of this genre.
Donnie Brasco tells the tale of an undercover cop infiltrating a vicious mafia gang through any means necessary. As the story continues, the rigours of everyday mob life start to take an increasingly serious toll on his real life.
The film shares a similar destructive ark to Goodfellas, and featured a tense, above-average performance from Johnny Depp in the central role as an increasingly desperate man struggling to keep a hold on his own moral centre, and an equally impressive turn from Al Pacino as a mob member he begins to form a genuine loyalty to.
It’s impossible to compile a decent list of crime films without a pretty heavy showing from Martin Scorsese, and this list is no exception. Mean Streets is another one from the master himself, made some 17 years before Goodfellas, in his first film which features, amongst others, Robert De Niro in one of many Scorsese collaborations.
Set in the messy aftermath of Prohibition, this gangster film tells the story of one man’s need to confront the demons he hoped to have left behind in that bygone era. Featuring a stellar performance from long-time Scorsese collaborator Robert De Niro, the film is directed by spaghetti-western legend Sergio Leone.
Not a gangster-film as such, but Carlito’s Way certainly shows the perils of entering into a life of crime, and does so in vastly entertaining, expansive style! Al Pacino stars as a recently released convict vowing to go ‘legitimate’… until his lawyer (brilliantly played by an on-form Sean Penn) gets him into trouble once more…
The ‘Mob’ as seen from the outside, with Kevin Costner and Sean Connery launching a desperate bid to take down real-life Chicago mob boss Al Capone (Robert De Niro).
No list of crime films is really complete without Brian De Palma’s Scarface, worth a watch for many things including the indulgent depiction of gangster life, but perhaps most famous for Al Pacino’s frankly infamous ‘Say hello to my little friend!’ line during a particularly vicious shoot-out.
Check out this article for more movies like ‘Scarface’.
What are your favourite crime films? Do you have a favourite from the list?
Feel free to comment with your own suggestions!
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