The Best '80s Gangster Movie

by pere-25366 | created - 30 Jul 2018 | updated - 08 Sep 2018 | Public

How do you follow up a decade which many consider to have included the two single greatest gangster films in The Godfather (1972) AND The Godfather: Part II (1974)? It's no easy task, but the 1980s (a time full of underrated little gems) was a great time for the gangster genre, featuring some of the best actors and directors of our time at the top of their cinematic game.

Which of these 1980s Gangster movies will you most likely remember?

After voting, you may discuss the poll here.

Also vote for Best Gangster Movie >>> 2000s

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1. Scarface (1983)

R | 170 min | Crime, Drama

65 Metascore

In 1980 Miami, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel and succumbs to greed.

Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

Votes: 679,197 | Gross: $45.60M

2. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

R | 229 min | Crime, Drama

A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to the Lower East Side of Manhattan over thirty years later, where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old life.

Director: Sergio Leone | Stars: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Treat Williams

Votes: 284,473 | Gross: $5.32M

3. The Untouchables (1987)

R | 119 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

79 Metascore

During the era of Prohibition in the United States, Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop ruthless Chicago gangster Al Capone, and because of rampant corruption, assembles a small, hand-picked team to help him.

Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Charles Martin Smith

Votes: 260,178 | Gross: $76.27M

4. Black Rain (1989)

R | 125 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

56 Metascore

Two NYC cops arrest a Yakuza member and must escort him when he's extradited to Japan.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Ken Takakura, Kate Capshaw

Votes: 46,290 | Gross: $46.21M

5. Colors (1988)

R | 120 min | Action, Crime, Drama

66 Metascore

An experienced cop and his rookie partner patrol the streets of East Los Angeles while trying to keep the gang violence under control.

Director: Dennis Hopper | Stars: Sean Penn, Robert Duvall, Maria Conchita Alonso, Randy Brooks

Votes: 22,723 | Gross: $46.62M

6. The Long Good Friday (1980)

R | 114 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

An up-and-coming gangster is tested by the insurgence of an unknown, very powerful threat.

Director: John Mackenzie | Stars: Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Paul Freeman, Leo Dolan

Votes: 17,333

7. A Better Tomorrow (1986)

Not Rated | 95 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A reforming ex-gangster tries to reconcile with his estranged policeman brother, but the ties to his former gang are difficult to break.

Director: John Woo | Stars: Lung Ti, Leslie Cheung, Yun-Fat Chow, Emily Chu

Votes: 19,018

8. The Cotton Club (1984)

R | 127 min | Crime, Drama, Music

68 Metascore

The Cotton Club was a famous night club in Harlem. The story follows the people who visited the club, those who ran it, and is peppered with the Jazz music that made it so famous.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, Diane Lane, Lonette McKee

Votes: 15,164 | Gross: $25.93M

9. Harlem Nights (1989)

R | 116 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

16 Metascore

During the 1930s, a New York City illegal gambling house owner and his associates must deal with strong competition, gangsters, and corrupt cops in order to stay in business.

Director: Eddie Murphy | Stars: Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, Danny Aiello

Votes: 18,606 | Gross: $60.86M

10. Prizzi's Honor (1985)

R | 130 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

84 Metascore

A professional hitman and hitwoman fall in love.

Director: John Huston | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner, Robert Loggia, John Randolph

Votes: 21,423 | Gross: $26.70M

11. Johnny Dangerously (1984)

PG-13 | 90 min | Comedy, Crime

54 Metascore

Set in the 1930s, an honest, goodhearted man is forced to turn to a life of crime to finance his neurotic mother's skyrocketing medical bills.

Director: Amy Heckerling | Stars: Michael Keaton, Joe Piscopo, Marilu Henner, Maureen Stapleton

Votes: 12,591

12. Married to the Mob (1988)

R | 104 min | Comedy, Crime, Romance

71 Metascore

An undercover FBI agent falls in love with a recently widowed mafia wife, who is trying to restart her life following her husband's murder while being pursued by a libidinous mafia kingpin seeking to claim her for himself.

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Michelle Pfeiffer, Alec Baldwin, Paul Lazar, Captain Haggerty

Votes: 14,980 | Gross: $21.49M

13. Atlantic City (1980)

R | 104 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

85 Metascore

In a corrupt city, a small-time gangster and the estranged wife of a pot dealer find themselves thrown together in an escapade of love, money, drugs and danger.

Director: Louis Malle | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Susan Sarandon, Kate Reid, Michel Piccoli

Votes: 13,561

14. As Tears Go By (1988)

Not Rated | 102 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

Mid-level gangster Wah falls in love with his beautiful cousin, but must also continue to protect his volatile partner-in-crime and friend, Fly.

Director: Kar-Wai Wong | Stars: Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung, Jacky Cheung, Alex Man

Votes: 7,470 | Gross: $0.01M

15. City Heat (1984)

PG | 93 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

Slick Private Investigator Mike Murphy (Burt Reynolds) and tough Police Lieutenant Speer (Clint Eastwood), once partners, now bitter enemies, reluctantly team up to investigate a murder.

Director: Richard Benjamin | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Jane Alexander, Madeline Kahn

Votes: 8,447 | Gross: $38.35M

16. Thief (1981)

R | 123 min | Action, Crime, Drama

78 Metascore

Coming closer to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safecracker agrees to do a job for the Mafia, who has other plans for him.

Director: Michael Mann | Stars: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, Jim Belushi

Votes: 22,282 | Gross: $11.49M

17. Bad Boys (1983)

R | 123 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

53 Metascore

Chicago crime kid Mick O'Brien is sent to reform school after accidentally killing a rival's kid brother.

Director: Rick Rosenthal | Stars: Sean Penn, Reni Santoni, Jim Moody, Eric Gurry

Votes: 12,920 | Gross: $9.20M

18. Choice of Arms (1981)

Not Rated | 114 min | Crime, Drama

Two men break out of prison; a rival gang ambushes them. One is mortally wounded and tells the other, Mickey, to take him to the estate of a retired robber, Noel, who lives in comfort with ... See full summary »

Director: Alain Corneau | Stars: Yves Montand, Gérard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve, Michel Galabru

Votes: 1,407

19. Year of the Dragon (1985)

R | 134 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A police detective cracks down on organized crime in Chinatown after the murders of Triad and Mafia leaders.

Director: Michael Cimino | Stars: Mickey Rourke, John Lone, Ariane, Leonard Termo

Votes: 12,957 | Gross: $18.70M

20. Stormy Monday (1988)

R | 93 min | Crime, Drama, Music

A crooked American businessman tries to push the shady influential owner of a nightclub in Newcastle, England to sell him the club. The club's new employee and the American's ex lover fall in love and inadvertently stir the pot.

Director: Mike Figgis | Stars: Melanie Griffith, Tommy Lee Jones, Sting, Sean Bean

Votes: 3,365 | Gross: $1.79M

21. Contraband (1980)

Unrated | 97 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Cigarette smugglers in Naples run into problems with cocaine operations being set up by a rival smuggler. Full of violence, including a women's face being burned off with a blow torch and a... See full summary »

Director: Lucio Fulci | Stars: Fabio Testi, Ivana Monti, Marcel Bozzuffi, Saverio Marconi

Votes: 1,529

22. McVicar (1980)

R | 112 min | Crime, Drama

'John McVicar' was a London Bad Boy. He graduated to armed bank robbery and was Britain's "Public Enemy No. 1". He was captured and put into a high security prison. Will even the highest ... See full summary »

Director: Tom Clegg | Stars: Roger Daltrey, Adam Faith, Cheryl Campbell, Billy Murray

Votes: 1,720

23. The Hit (1984)

R | 98 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

75 Metascore

Ten years later, after ratting on his old mobster friends in exchange for personal immunity, two hit men drive a hardened criminal to Paris for his execution. However, while on the way, whatever can go wrong, does go wrong.

Director: Stephen Frears | Stars: Freddie Stuart, Ralph Brown, A.J. Clarke, Terence Stamp

Votes: 6,667 | Gross: $0.88M

24. Gloria (1980)

PG | 123 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

68 Metascore

When a young boy's family is killed by the mob, their tough neighbor Gloria becomes his reluctant guardian. In possession of a book that the gangsters want, the pair go on the run in New York.

Director: John Cassavetes | Stars: Gena Rowlands, Buck Henry, Julie Carmen, Tony Knesich

Votes: 7,582

25. Things Change (1988)

PG | 100 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

71 Metascore

Shoe-shiner Gino is hired to take the rap for a mafia murder. Two-bit gangster Jerry watches over Gino and gives him a weekend to remember.

Director: David Mamet | Stars: Don Ameche, Joe Mantegna, Robert Prosky, J.J. Johnston

Votes: 2,971 | Gross: $3.53M

26. Prison on Fire (1987)

R | 98 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Inside a Chinese prison two inmates form a friendship and face the difficulty of life on the inside.

Director: Ringo Lam | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Tony Ka Fai Leung, Ka-Kui Ho, Roy Cheung

Votes: 2,141

27. Fear City (1984)

R | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Strippers in Manhattan are being stalked and maimed by a psycho-killer. A conflicted ex-boxer-turned-talent-manager and his business partner and friend, who represent some of the girls, set out to find him before he strikes again.

Director: Abel Ferrara | Stars: Tom Berenger, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Scalia, Melanie Griffith

Votes: 2,675

28. Mona Lisa (1986)

R | 104 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

A man recently released from prison manages to get a job driving a call girl from customer to customer.

Director: Neil Jordan | Stars: Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, Michael Caine, Robbie Coltrane

Votes: 11,971 | Gross: $5.79M

29. The Professor (1986)

171 min | Crime, Drama

Vaguely inspired to the real story of boss of the Camorra's bosses Raffaele Cutolo, this is the story of the criminal career of "Il professore" (the professor). He is in prison, and by ... See full summary »

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore | Stars: Ben Gazzara, Laura del Sol, Leo Gullotta, Marzio Honorato

Votes: 1,160

30. Parinda (1989)

Not Rated | 154 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Two brothers are caught on the different sides of a gang war.

Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra | Stars: Anil Kapoor, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Madhuri Dixit, Nana Patekar

Votes: 2,770

31. The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984)

R | 121 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

58 Metascore

Two cousins unknowingly rob the mob and face the dangerous consequences.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg | Stars: Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, Daryl Hannah, Geraldine Page

Votes: 7,180 | Gross: $6.14M

32. Wise Guys (1986)

R | 100 min | Comedy, Crime

62 Metascore

Harry Valentini and Moe Dickstein are both errand boys for the Mob. When they lose two hundred fifty thousand dollars, they are set up to kill each other. But they run off to Atlantic City, and comedy follows.

Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: Danny DeVito, Joe Piscopo, Harvey Keitel, Ray Sharkey

Votes: 4,996 | Gross: $8.48M

33. City on Fire (1987)

R | 101 min | Action, Crime, Drama

An undercover cop infiltrates a gang of thieves who plan to rob a jewelry store.

Director: Ringo Lam | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Yueh Sun, Danny Lee, Carrie Ng

Votes: 5,455

34. The Sicilian (1987)

R | 115 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Egocentric bandit Salvatore Giuliano fights the Church, the Mafia, and the landed gentry while leading a populist movement for Sicilian independence.

Director: Michael Cimino | Stars: Christopher Lambert, Terence Stamp, Maurizio Castagna, Joss Ackland

Votes: 4,357 | Gross: $5.41M

35. Prince of the City (1981)

R | 167 min | Crime, Drama

80 Metascore

A New York City narcotics detective reluctantly agrees to cooperate with a special commission investigating police corruption. However, he soon discovers that he's in over his head, and nobody can be trusted.

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Treat Williams, Jerry Orbach, Richard Foronjy, Don Billett

Votes: 6,549 | Gross: $8.12M



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