As far back as anyone can remember, cinemagoers have loved gangster movies. It’s easy to understand why. Sure, in reality, life as a career criminal seems like a bum gig – always looking over your shoulder, never able to trust even your closest compatriots, and that’s not to mention all the amoral behavior. But getting to live vicariously through the ones we see on screen is one of cinema’s purest thrills, mostly because it’s a lifestyle the majority of us would never dream of adopting or even living adjacent to.
But the truth is that the gangster movie isn’t a monolith. It may involve cigar-munching mobsters maintaining vast criminal empires or street-level bosses presiding over a city block. It could be yakuza enforcers in operatic gunfights or hard-boiled mobsters indiscriminately spraying the competition with bullets. Some movie gangsters are loud and gregarious, others cold and calculating – and you’ll find all of them on our definitive list of the best gangster movies of all-time.
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