Gangster's in the cinema

I’m a creative writing student and for my dissertation I am doing a play based around a gangster story and I was wondering if you could help me out by suggesting some of your favourite portrayals of gangsters in the cinema.

I’m really interested in the performances more than anything so the film itself doesn’t have to be brilliant, for instance “The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover” isn’t the “Godfather” but Michael Gambon’s performance is simply stunning.

Also if it’s not too much trouble could you also state what you liked so much about the performance.

Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.


“The Untouchables” comes to mind, but that was more about Elloit Ness than Al Capone.


Sorry, but The Long Good Friday is IMO, BETTER than The Godfather. But so is Miller’s Crossing. The Long Good Friday has a standout performance by Bob Hoskins. And Miller’s Crossing? I don’t know, John Turturro is pretty great (as usual) as well as Gabriel Byrne. Not one of the Coen Brothers’ best. That would be Blood Simple.

"Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" is just a beauty to behold. One of Peter Greenaway's best. Lush cinematography, strong jewel tones. Helen Mirren's daring performance at the core. It's been awhile since I've seen this one, but it has stayed with me.

Goodfellas and The Sopranos. Both feature amazing acting, great stryotelling, and by most accounts an accurate portrayal of mob life.

I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked Warren Beatty’s performance as Bugsy. Maybe because he just seemed to like being a gangster so much…

all the gangster movies are bs they’ve been hollywood’ the fuc* out. If you want to write a good gangster story you’re going to have to hang out with some, but I find this highly unlikely of happenening.

Oh my god! How on earth could I have forgotten Bugsy?! Brilliant script, great acting! Just A-Plus all around! I can STILL recite lines from that movie…“why don’t you just go across the street and jerk yourself a soda…” Just frickin brilliant.

Chazz Palminteri as “Sonny” in ‘A Bronx Tale’ was great as the local neighborhood boss, who worked out of the corner bar. I think the bar was called the Chez Bippy or something like that :).

If you want to write a decent piece, I think you should capture the constant fear and oppression the typical mobster lives through. Donnie Brasco is good, watch Pacino’s character - see how miserable he is? “Oz” is another good television series to watch to get some feel for the life. “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels” is a god-send, but as well it shows how seedy things are. Hmmn, there was a Charlie Sheen movie where he’s a cop infiltrating the Bikers. Not too bad in showing the machismo needed - at all times.

watch miller’s crossing…all the info you need is within that movie.