Must See Gangster Movies Of All Time

The Rise of the Gangster Movie

The emergence of the gangster movie genre is something that has revolutionized the way many perceive the crime world. With the release of groundbreaking films such as The Godfather and Scarface, film makers were able to create exhilarating stories that could captivate the audience and explore the darkness of their power hungry characters. The idea of taking a dramatic approach to telling the story of criminals was revolutionary and delivered a new twist on the criminal underworld. Other films such as Goodfellas and Once Upon a Time in America brought fresh new perspectives to the genre that pushed it to its climax in the modern era.

The rise of gangster movies goes back to the early beginnings of film making when Thomas Edison’s Kinetophone was created in 1894. This film caused a great stir in the public as the gangsters portrayed in the film became a representation of the ‘anti-hero’, someone who was ruthless and powerful, but also sympathetic in the way that they tried to break out of the mould of society. What made this type of film so revolutionary was that it explored new ideas of justice, loyalty and loyalty to friends and family.

Throughout the evolution of gangster films, there have been some that have become timeless classics. The Godfather was released in 1972 and quickly became a cultural phenomenon that changed the game forever. It depicted the life of organized crime with a focus on the powerful Corleone family, the impact their actions had on those around them and the struggles the members of the family faced in trying to keep their power within their hands. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time and a must see for anyone looking for an introduction to the genre.

Scarface, released by Universal Pictures in 1983, is often considered the best gangster film of its time. It starred Al Pacino in the role of Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee who rises to the top of the criminal underworld in Miami. The film is a great showcase of the power of ambition and the lengths people will go to in pursuit of their goals. It also provided audiences with an insight into the world of organised crime and the damage it can cause.

Goodfellas, which was released in 1990, is a classic movie that is regarded as one of the finest gangster films ever made. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the movie is based on the true story of mobster Henry Hill, a member of the Lucchese crime family in New York. The film follows Hill’s journey from being a small-time crook to becoming one of the most powerful mob bosses in the country. It is a great showcase of the power of criminal organizations and the danger they pose to society.

Once Upon a Time in America is another classic gangster film released in 1984. The movie was directed by Sergio Leone and starred Robert De Niro in the role of gangster Noodles. The movie follows the life of Noodles as he rises to become the leader of a criminal empire, and the consequences that come with it. The movie is a great showcase of the power of loyalty and how it can be tested, as well as the darkness at the heart of organized crime.

Gangsters in Pop Culture

The success of gangster movies has led to them becoming a part of pop culture. Characters such as Tony Montana and Henry Hill are instantly recognisable, and their quotes and catchphrases have become iconic. This is particularly true of the Godfather, which is one of the most quoted movies of all time.

The characters of gangsters have also been used to explore various themes within pop culture, such as the way society views crime and morality. Characters such as Tony Montana and Henry Hill have become symbols and archetypes for different types of people, from the ambitious to the nihilistic. This has allowed filmmakers to craft stories that explore these themes and use the gangsters as a device for exploring them.

The influence of gangster films can also be seen in other areas of pop culture. The genre has inspired various music genres, including rap, which often uses the trappings of gangster life as a source of inspiration for its lyrics. The gangster also plays an important role in television shows and video games. These mediums often use gangster characters as protagonists, and explore their lives and relationships in an interactive manner.

Gangsters have also been used to inform the way we view certain aspects of modern life. In recent years, the idea of the ‘gangster entrepreneur’ has become popular, where people strive to emulate the ruthlessness and ambition of the gangster and pursue success through unconventional means. This has become an important part of the entrepreneurial mindset.

The Impact of Gangster Movies

The impact of gangster movies can still be felt in cinema and society today. These films have provided a new perspective on crime and justice, as well as a glimpse into the lives of those who live on the fringes of society. They have also helped to shed light on the power dynamics of organized crime and have provided audiences with an insight into the world of criminal elements.

Additionally, the influence of these movies has been instrumental in creating a new kind of hero. The gangster has become an archetype for those who are ambitious and strive for power and success, no matter what the cost. This is particularly evident in the aspect of the ‘gangster entrepreneur’, which has become a popular concept within modern culture.

Overall, gangster movies have significantly influenced the way we view crime and justice, and have become iconic representations of modern pop culture. Although they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, they remain some of the most memorable and important films in the history of cinema.


Gangster movies have become some of the most iconic films of all time and have forever changed the way we view crime and justice. From the classic ‘Godfather’ to the harrowing ‘Once Upon a Time in America’, these films have provided audiences with an insight into the life of organized crime in a way that no other genre can. Not only have they sparked conversation about power and morality, but have also inspired a generation of ambitious entrepreneurs.

The Future of Gangster Movies

Gangster movies are always evolving, as filmmakers strive to explore new stories in interesting ways. In recent years, we have seen films such as The Irishman, which has explored the life and times of Mafia hitman Frank Sheeran, or Baby Driver, which is an action-packed movie about a getaway driver in the employ of crime gangs. These films have taken the themes of loyalty, ambition and the ruthless pursuit of power to a new level, and have certainly pushed the limits of what the gangster movie genre can achieve.

In the future, we can expect to see filmmakers pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in gangster films. As technology and cinematography evolves, new filmmakers will be able to push the genre even further and create films that explore the nature of organised crime in fresh and innovative ways. As technology becomes more accessible and stories become more complex, the gangster movie genre will be one to watch out for in the years ahead.

Notable Gangster Films

There are a number of standout films that have truly revolutionised the gangster movie genre. Here are some of the most iconic films to watch if you’re looking to get an understanding of what makes gangster films so timeless:

  • The Godfather (1972)
  • Scarface (1983)
  • Goodfellas (1990)
  • Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
  • The Irishman (2019)
  • Baby Driver (2017)


Gangster films are some of the most iconic films of all time, from The Godfather to The Irishman. They have revolutionized the way we perceive the criminal underworld and have become crucial parts of pop culture. Not only have these films provided audiences with a new perspective on crime and justice, but they have also inspired a whole new generation of ambitious entrepreneurs, who are eager to emulate the ruthlessness and ambition of these characters. As technology advances and filmmakers push the boundaries of what can be achieved in this genre, it seems that gangster films will continue to entertain and captivate audiences for many years to come.

Vicki Strouth is a life-long film enthusiast, having grown up watching classic cinema in her childhood. She has since gone on to pursue writing about films and movie news, with her work being published on various online platforms. She is passionate about supporting independent filmmakers and highlighting important stories from around the world. She has also written a successful book about classic movies from Hollywood's Golden Age era. Vicki currently lives in Seattle, where she continues to explore films of all genres and eras.

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