DISCOVER--thirty great gangster films

by jonabbott56 | created - 22 Dec 2012 | updated - 22 Jan 2016 | Public

This list is in alphabetical order, including the Chinese and Japanese titles. Thirty classics to get you started, there are others, the most notable absentee being Al Pacino as Scarface--that was no. 31. A deliberate absentee that turns up on other lists is the movie version of The Untouchables, I love the original TV series too much to include that one. Amazing how many other lists leave out Warren Oates as Dillinger, a top five entry in my book. Hit the see all lists button to see my separate lists under the DISCOVER pre-fix for James Cagney, Chow Yun Fat, and crime sprees...

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1. Across 110th Street (1972)

R | 102 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Two New York City cops go after amateur crooks who are trying to rip off the Mafia and start a gang war.

Director: Barry Shear | Stars: Anthony Quinn, Yaphet Kotto, Anthony Franciosa, Frank Adu

Votes: 4,323

2. 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: 18,667

3. Bloody Mama (1970)

R | 90 min | Crime, Drama

A psychologically-disturbed matriarch presides over her damaged family of bank-robbing misfits.

Director: Roger Corman | Stars: Shelley Winters, Don Stroud, Pat Hingle, Diane Varsi

Votes: 2,706

4. Casino (1995)

R | 178 min | Crime, Drama

73 Metascore

A tale of greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia enforcer and a casino executive, compete against each other over a gambling empire, and over a fast living and fast loving socialite.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci, James Woods

Votes: 414,765 | Gross: $42.44M

5. Dillinger (1973)

R | 107 min | Action, Biography, Crime

John Dillinger and his gang go on a bank robbing spree across the midwest, but one G-Man is determined to bring him down.

Director: John Milius | Stars: Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Michelle Phillips, Cloris Leachman

Votes: 4,261

6. Flaming Brothers (1987)

Unrated | 99 min | Action, Crime, Romance

A tale between two brothers: One has left the triads and gone legit, the other has decided to stay and keep the triad from going to the ways of drugs and gun running.

Director: Tung Cho 'Joe' Cheung | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Alan Tang, Pat Ha, Lap Ban Chan

Votes: 485

This is Flaming Brothers.

7. Get Carter (1971)

R | 112 min | Crime, Thriller

When his brother dies under mysterious circumstances in a car accident, London gangster Jack Carter travels to Newcastle to investigate.

Director: Mike Hodges | Stars: Michael Caine, Ian Hendry, Britt Ekland, John Osborne

Votes: 26,224

8. The Godfather (1972)

R | 175 min | Crime, Drama

100 Metascore

The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton

Votes: 1,444,612 | Gross: $134.97M

9. The Godfather: Part II (1974)

R | 202 min | Crime, Drama

90 Metascore

The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York City is portrayed, while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on the family crime syndicate.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton

Votes: 1,004,243 | Gross: $57.30M

10. Goodfellas (1990)

R | 146 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

89 Metascore

The story of Henry Hill and his life in the mob, covering his relationship with his wife Karen Hill and his mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito in the Italian-American crime syndicate.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco

Votes: 908,586 | Gross: $46.84M

11. Hard Boiled (1992)

R | 128 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

A tough-as-nails cop teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew.

Director: John Woo | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Teresa Mo, Philip Chan

Votes: 43,662

12. The Killer (1989)

R | 111 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A disillusioned assassin accepts one last hit in hopes of using his earnings to restore vision to a singer he accidentally blinded, only to be double-crossed by his boss.

Director: John Woo | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Danny Lee, Sally Yeh, Kong Chu

Votes: 43,160

13. The Killers (1964)

Not Rated | 93 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Surprised that their contract victim didn't try to run away from them, two professional hit men try to find out who hired them and why.

Director: Don Siegel | Stars: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes, Clu Gulager

Votes: 6,001

14. Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950)

Approved | 102 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller

Starting with a violent prison break, clever, ruthless Ralph Cotter corrupts everyone around him.

Director: Gordon Douglas | Stars: James Cagney, Barbara Payton, Helena Carter, Ward Bond

Votes: 1,541

15. The Long Goodbye (1973)

R | 112 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

Private investigator Philip Marlowe helps a friend out of a jam then gets implicated in his wife's murder.

Director: Robert Altman | Stars: Elliott Gould, Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell

Votes: 22,508 | Gross: $0.96M

16. Mean Streets (1973)

R | 112 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

96 Metascore

A small-time hood aspires to work his way up the ranks of a local mob.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval, Amy Robinson

Votes: 84,495 | Gross: $3.13M

17. 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: 278,761 | Gross: $5.32M

18. The Outfit (1973)

PG | 103 min | Drama, Thriller

Earl Macklin robs a bank owned by the mob, serves his prison time and is released, only to start a private war against the crime outfit that owned the bank.

Director: John Flynn | Stars: Robert Duvall, Karen Black, Joe Don Baker, Robert Ryan

Votes: 2,779

19. Performance (1970)

R | 105 min | Crime, Drama

A violent gangster seeks refuge from the mob in the Bohemian home of a former rock star.

Directors: Donald Cammell, Nicolas Roeg | Stars: James Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, Michèle Breton

Votes: 8,319

20. Point Blank (1967)

Not Rated | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

After being double-crossed and left for dead, a mysterious man named Walker single-mindedly tries to retrieve the money that was stolen from him.

Director: John Boorman | Stars: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn, Carroll O'Connor

Votes: 16,628

21. Prime Cut (1972)

R | 88 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A vicious Kansas City slaughterhouse owner and his hick family are having a bloody "beef" with the Chicago crime syndicate over profits from their joint illegal operations. Top enforcer Nick Devlin is sent to straighten things out.

Director: Michael Ritchie | Stars: Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, Sissy Spacek, Angel Tompkins

Votes: 4,078

22. The Public Enemy (1931)

Not Rated | 83 min | Crime, Drama

A young hoodlum rises up through the ranks of the Chicago underworld, even as a gangster's accidental death threatens to spark a bloody mob war.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, Joan Blondell

Votes: 16,096

23. Pulp Fiction (1994)

R | 154 min | Crime, Drama

94 Metascore

The lives of two mob hitmen, a boxer, a gangster & his wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis

Votes: 1,645,423 | Gross: $107.93M

24. Raw Deal (1986)

R | 106 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

44 Metascore

A former FBI agent turned small-town sheriff agrees to help the FBI chief infiltrate the Chicago mafia when the FBI chief's son is killed by them.

Director: John Irvin | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathryn Harrold, Sam Wanamaker, Paul Shenar

Votes: 27,759 | Gross: $16.21M

25. Rich and Famous (1987)

R | 104 min | Action, Crime, Drama

To pay off his debt as a gambler, a man drags his sister and step-brother into a life of crimeand a violent war between rival gang lords.

Director: Taylor Wong | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Andy Lau, Alex Man, Siu-Fung Wong

Votes: 498

This is Rich and Famous

26. The Roaring Twenties (1939)

Not Rated | 106 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Three men attempt to make a living in Prohibitionist America after returning home from fighting together in World War I.

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Priscilla Lane, Gladys George

Votes: 11,375

27. Thieves Like Us (1974)

R | 123 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

When two men break out of prison, they join up with another and restart their criminal ways, robbing banks across the South.

Director: Robert Altman | Stars: Keith Carradine, Shelley Duvall, John Schuck, Bert Remsen

Votes: 3,872

28. Tiger on Beat (1988)

TV-MA | 88 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

A seasoned cop and his rookie partner are a pair of mismatched partners in this Hong Kong action-comedy in the style of 'Lethal Weapon'. The wacky twosome are up in arms as they try to solve the murder of a heroin trafficker.

Director: Chia-Liang Liu | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Nina Li Chi, Conan Lee, Norman Chu

Votes: 1,403

This is Tiger on the Beat

29. Ying hung ho hon (1987)

R | 97 min | Action, Crime, Drama

After being released from prison, Tang Kat Yung exacts revenge on Li Ah Chai, in this sequel to Rich and Famous.

Director: Taylor Wong | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Andy Lau, Alex Man, Siu-Fung Wong

Votes: 453

This is Tragic Hero, the sequel to Rich and Famous.

30. White Heat (1949)

Not Rated | 114 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn.

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien, Margaret Wycherly

Votes: 24,574

James Cagney's tour-de-force...

Jon is not on Facebook, but can reply to comments here, at the base of this list.

Obsessed with the popular culture of the 1960s and surrounding decades, Jon Abbott has been writing about film and TV for over thirty years in around two dozen different publications, trade, populist, and specialist. He is the author of several books, including

Irwin Allen Television Productions 1964-1970, Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots, The Elvis Films, Cool TV of the 1960s: Three Shows That Changed the World, and Strange New World: Sex Films of the 1970s.

See his Amazon author's page, and his other lists on the IMDB, all under the pre-fix DISCOVER.



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