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6 Movies like Scarface: 70s Classics

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tom_cropper“Scarface is one of the most iconic gangster movies of all time. Here are some other must-sees including Mean Streets, the Godfather and Goodfellas” ~ Tom Cropper

Crime Pays

“Say hello to my little friend…”

It’s 1980 and a cocky, determined Cuban immigrant is trying to make his way in the USA. In a few short years he’ll have taken the criminal underworld by storm to become one of the most notorious gangsters of all time.

Al Pacino leaves subtlety in the closet as he chews the furniture in this raw and savage movie. His rise is shocking, but it has nothing on the carnage of the final show-down.

Movies like Scarface are iconic, brutal and brilliant. Here are a few others cast in a similar mould.


Movies Similar to ‘Scarface’…

‘The Godfather Part II’ (Francis Ford Copolla, 1974)

“A history of two generations of crime…”

Before he was Scarface, Al Pacino broke into the movie business as Michael Corleone, a war hero turned Mafia boss. In this second chapter we follow two stories: Michael’s ascent as a crime boss and descent into a life of murder and vengeance, and his father Vito’s early life after he arrives in America.

Similarity Match: 95%
As with Scarface, the second part in the Godfather trilogy shows an immigrant’s rise to wealth and fortune through a life of crime. The style is slower and more nuanced, but it follows similar themes of power and corruption.

‘Goodfellas’ (Martin Scorsese, 1990)

“Three decades in the life of the mafia…”

Ray Liotta gives the performance of his life charting the story of Henry Hill from his early days as an errand boy for the mob through three decades of crime, violence and murder.

Scorsese’s fast paced biopic quickly became a modern classic. It’s teeming with memorable moments and quotable lines and is the kind of movie which begs to be watched time and time again.

Make sure to also have a look at these other great films similar to ‘Goodfellas’.

Similarity Match: 90%
Scarface laid the template for modern gangster movies, but this one dialled up the pace and the action right up to 11.

‘Taxi Driver’ (Martin Scorsese, 1976)

“You talking to me?”

Scarface was a villain destined to adorn posters in students’ bedrooms, so here’s another. Robert De Niro plays a troubled taxi driver who has to cope with all the worst aspects of life. Finally, driven to distraction, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

The movie is best known for the final scene as he finally goes into full vigilante mode. However, throughout this is a masterclass in cinematography and story-telling as it slowly builds to a dramatic finale.

Similarity Match: 85%
Taxi Driver and Scarface are cut from the same cloth in that they both draw heavily on iconic central characters.

‘Mean Streets’ (Martin Scorsese, 1973)

“You’ve got a way of talking about one thing and then zap…”

When people talk about classic gangster movies from the 70s they often forget this gem from Martin Scorsese. I think it’s well worth checking out.

Harvey Keitel plays a small time criminal trying to survive on the mean city streets. However, he has a problem in the shape of Johnny played by Robert de Niro. Johnny can’t help getting into trouble and dragging Charlie down with him.

Similarity Match: 80%
Like Scarface this is rough and ready in places. It’s fast, violent and at times very difficult to watch.


If You Like ‘Scarface’, You Will Like…

So, there you have it. Four classic films like Scarface. They show that while crime may not pay, it certainly makes for compelling viewing. For our bonus recommendations, though, we thought we’d dig up a few films which might not have a gangster between them, but carry the same DNA.

‘Raging Bull’ (Martin Scorsese, 1980)

“I could have been a contender…”

Martin Scorsese’s biopic of Jake La Motta rewrote the rule book on about how you portray sport in the movies. Bringing unprecedented levels of realism into his fight scenes, Scorsese doesn’t pull any punches in this warts and all tale of La Motta – a great fighter, but a deeply flawed human being.

This film has a lot to give. A landmark performance by Robert De Niro, some of the most exhilarating fight scenes ever put to celluloid and an epic story of struggle, victory and defeat.

‘Warrior’ (Gavin O Connor, 2011)

“Family is worth fighting for…”

There are few films that carry a sense of action, realism, and emotional intensity, that movies similar to Scarface had. Warrior is one of them.

The film follows two brothers and their estranged father as they compete to win a million dollars in an ultimate fighting contest. Each is desperate to win, and each has a lorry load of personal issues to deal with.

It’s a great movie, but it’s selected here because like Scarface this is a movie all about the ending. Just as you’re waiting for Pacino’s final showdown, you spend this movie waiting for the inevitable finale as the two brothers must fight one another. It’s well worth the wait.


Modern Classics

Scarface is one of those movies which have become so treasured that they’re part of movie making history. Opinions are strong and it’s not that easy to find films which can live in its company.

Hopefully I’ve managed to find a few that can, but as always, I’ll be looking forward to hearing your ideas.

Tell me about them in the comments section below.

These days Tom Cropper is normally found writing about money and ethical issues and finance for people like Go Compare and the Guardian. However, he started his career many years ago writing about film for a small and sadly defunct indie paper called the Soho Independent. Since then he’s written for various movie websites and, when he’s not trying to explain the nuances of insurance to people spends his time trying to dig out obscure movies from far flung parts of the world.
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