To borrow a phrase, as far back as anyone can remember, Hollywood always wanted to be a gangster. Or at least to wallow among them. Cinema’s history is littered with criminals beckoning viewers to spend a couple hours on the wrong side of the tracks. Whether it’s with killers in three-piece suits, street-level gangbangers or yakuza enforcers with a four-fingered chokehold on the supply chain seems irrelevant. We all want a seat at the table, and a great gangster film lets you live like Henry Hill without all that coke-addled paranoia and pesky witness protection.
Call it an offer you can't refuse, a Sicilian message or a pair of cement shoes: the gangster film has an ironclad lock on the hearts of movie lovers. Some of Hollywood's finest exports are crime sagas, and the indie and foreign-film worlds boast classics of their own. Gritty or romantic, coolly silent or loaded with tough talk, these are the films where crime pays. Join us for a tour of the speakeasies, gambling dens, back alleys and knocked-off bank vaults of cinema’s criminal underworlds.
Written by Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, David Ehrlich, Zach Long, Andy Kryza, Tom Huddleston, Joshua Rothkopf & Phil de Semlyen