What Are Some Gangster Movies

The Genre of Gangster Movies

Gangster movies are some of the most popular films around, entertaining audiences with tales of organized crime, thrilling chases, and dark themes. Considered one of the most iconic and classic genres of film, the gangster movie has developed and evolved over the years, often reflecting the issues and attitudes of the time.

The gangster genre often portrays criminals as antiheroes, reveling in the glamour and excitement associated with a life of crime. Movies in this genre often follow an individual’s journey in the criminal underworld, making the struggles and successes of their chosen lifestyle central to the narrative.

Many gangster films reflect the contemporary context of their production. As the genre has developed over time, storylines have evolved to reflect current social issues such as race, class, and violence. The films often have political implications as well, examining the politics of the era.

The crime of choice for these films is often related to the political, economic, and social climate at the time of their release. In the early days of Hollywood, films tended to feature gangsters as bank robbers and bootleggers, taking advantage of a period of Prohibition. In modern films, however, gangsters are often involved in illicit dealings such as drug-running and money laundering.

Most films in this genre are violent to some degree, but some are more realistic than others. While some films focus solely on the violence and mayhem associated with a life of crime, others offer a more nuanced examination of the criminal lifestyle, depicting not only the violence but also the motivations behind it.

The gangster movie has been around since the days of silent films, and classic films such as Little Caesar (1930) and The Public Enemy (1931) remain some of the most iconic films in the genre. More recently, films such as Goodfellas (1990), The Departed (2006) and The Godfather (1972) have been some of the most well-known gangster films.

The gangster genre is one that has long fascinated audiences, and its popularity continues to this day. Films such as The Irishman (2019) and Inside Man (2006) are recent examples of the genre, offering compelling stories and thrilling action.

Main Characters in These Films

When it comes to the characters in gangster movies, there is no strict template; the characters often vary greatly, depending on the film. Generally, however, the main characters tend to be criminals, mobsters, or their associates. These characters often have their own individual motivations, whether they are pursuing wealth, power, or revenge.

The characters in gangster films also tend to undergo a transformation. Often, the protagonist starts off as an outsider or an innocent bystander who is dragged into the criminal underworld. As the story progresses, they are forced to make difficult choices, eventually becoming a hardened criminal.

The antagonists in these films are typically mob bosses or other powerful criminal figures who serve as obstacles for the main characters. Often, these figures seek to control the criminal underworld, and their power and ruthlessness are a constant threat to the protagonists.

The characters in these films are usually very realistic, reflecting the fact that these movies often address serious issues. While some aspects of criminal life may be glamorized to an extent, most gangster films depict the harsh reality of a life of crime.

The actors in gangster films are also noteworthy; often, some of the most acclaimed performances have come from actors who have portrayed mobsters or criminals. Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, and Al Pacino are just a few of the actors who have made an indelible mark in this genre.

The Appeal of Gangster Movies

What makes gangster movies so popular? Part of the appeal lies in the thrill of following a criminal’s journey as they navigate the criminal underworld. These films often feature thrilling action sequences and intense plotlines, but also create deeper connections between the audience and characters.

At the same time, gangster movies often evoke a sense of nostalgia, especially when they are set in the past. Many classic films are either remade or referenced in modern films, allowing them to remain relevant and appealing to new generations of viewers.

Another reason for the enduring popularity of these films may be their portrayals of a criminal lifestyle that blends glamour and violence. In today’s world, crime is often overshadowed by the stories of law-abiding citizens. However, films from the gangster genre allow audiences to explore a darker world without getting too close to the edge.

Finally, gangster films often tackle complex themes and thought-provoking topics such as morality, justice, and power. While these films may contain violence and crime, they also provide an opportunity for audiences to engage with deeper issues. Ultimately, these films are not just about criminals; they are also about the human condition.

The Legacy of Gangster Movies

Gangster films have been around since the early days of cinema, and continue to be some of the most popular films today. They have given rise to some of the most iconic films and performances in movie history, as well as inspiring a number of films in other genres that have explored the criminal underworld.

The genre has shown no signs of slowing down; films such as Baby Driver (2017) and Joker (2019) have continued to explore the gangster genre in exciting new ways. And although the genre has changed over the years, one thing remains true: gangster films will remain perennial favorites for many years to come.

Controversies Around Gangster Movies

Of course, gangster films have also been the subject of controversy over the years. In particular, some films have been criticized for glamorizing violence and crime. There have also been debates over the depiction of certain offensive stereotypes in some films.

Critics have argued that films from the gangster genre often sensationalize crime and glorify criminal behavior. They also argue that these films often depict the criminal underworld with a romanticized lens, overshadowing the harsh reality of a life of crime.

On the other hand, some believe that these films can be used to explore the moral dilemmas of human nature, as well as to examine social issues. Ultimately, the controversy surrounding gangster films is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.


Gangster movies have been some of the most popular films for decades, offering intense action, thrilling chases, and dramatic performances. These films often depict an exciting and glamorized version of the criminal underworld, while also exploring serious issues such as morality and justice.

The genre has long fascinated audiences, and it is likely to remain popular in the years to come. Films such as The Irishman (2019) and The Departed (2006) have continued to explore the criminal underworld in exciting and innovative ways, while also challenging our preconceived notions about crime.

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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