Saturday, June 18, 2011

TOP 25 GANGSTER FILMS (continued): #15-11

  Here are numbers 15 through 11 of the Top 25 Gangster Films of All Time.  Within this you will see films that are based on true stories and characters, a king of a city, plenty of violence and one film that you may think doesn't even deserve to be on this list.  So check out numbers 15-11 after the jump and coming soon we will be showing the Top Ten which includes some Scorsese, DeNiro, Pesci, Tarantino, and many more. Who just barely missed the top ten?  Check it out for yourself.

15. American Gangster (2007)-
  In 2007, I read on the internet about a film coming out entitled "American Gangster".  Before reading about the cast and plot, I remember thinking to myself, "Wow that is the most cliche title I have ever heard in my life.  Might as well call the movie King of New York... wait a minute... thats another great gangster movie... Maybe they are going some where with this." (Going once?)  Then I preceded to read about who is starring in it; Denzel Washington (Training Day, Man On Fire, Philadelphia) and Russell Crowe (Gladiator, Romper Stomper, Robin Hood). (Going twice?).  Seeing how Denzel Washington won the oscar for playing a gangster in Training Day and I was always a fan of Russell Crowe; I was pretty intrigued.  Then I read that the movie would be based on the life of gangster Frank Lucas and was going to be directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Alien) (SOLD!). Now I was pretty pumped up for this film to come out.   
  American Gangster tells the story of Frank Lucas (Washington) and his drug empire in the 1970s. You are introduced to an over honest and dedicated detective Richie Roberts (Crowe) who starts a joint task force with the federal government to take down the "big fish" in the drug trade.  Through many leads and tips Roberts is close on the trail of Frank Lucas and begins watching every move he makes.  The story also shows the corruption within the local authorities in and around New York City in the 1970's (or what I'd like to call the "Serpico Days"). Headed by Detective Trupo (Josh Brolin- Jonah Hex, W, The Goonies, True Grit) a group of the local authorities also want a piece of Frank Lucas' empire.  Frank Lucas doesn't have much competition because he is also on good terms with the New York Mafia and Dominic Cattano (Armand Assante- Gotti, Fatal Instict, Judge Dredd, Striptease). 
  Denzel Washington does it again and prooves that he is one of the best actors in film today.  He puts on the persona of Frank Lucas perfectly.  What I love most about his character is that he can be very calm about things until you piss him off.  Once you piss him off he goes from zero to sixty in .5 seconds (ex: scene where he wacks Tango in the middle of the day on a street in Harlem with his brothers watching from the diner). 
  With an amazing cast and extremely entertaining story line; American Gangster is the best gangster film of the past ten years (and the reason why it is the last film from the 2000's on this list).  If you want to see how a man who was completly lost then rebounds and has one of the biggest drug empires of the past 40 years then this film is for you. 

End Of Credits:
  At the end of the closing credits, Frank Lucas approaches the camera and fires one shot from a pistol directly at the audience

Best Quotes:
   1. Frank Lucas: Now, I got no problem with you showin' up in court tomorrow with your head blown in half.
       Detective Richie Roberts: Hey Frank, get in line. That one stretches around the block too.
   2. Frank Lucas (referring to the naming of his new heroin): I don't care what you call it, put a choke-hold on the motherfucker and call it Blue Dog Shit.

14. The Usual Suspects (1995)-
  Every couple years a film comes out where the last five minutes make you jump up and be completly shocked; The Usual Suspects is one of them.  Some people may ask is this really a gangster film?  In essence, this film could be classified a gangster film.  The film revolves around a bunch of criminals (some of whom have gangster-esque backgrounds) who are hauled into a New York City police station.  They are  considered "The Usual Suspects" in a crime that was committed.  There is one lead mastermind throughout all of the crimes that are commited: Keyser Söze.  However, nobody knows who Keyser Söze really is. 
  The film has a great cast which includes Stephen Baldwin (Born On The Fourth Of July), Gabriel Bryne (Miller's Crossing, In Treatment), Benicio Del Torro (Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, Traffic, Che), Kevin Pollack (Casino, A Few Good Men, Wayne's World 2), Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, L.A. Confidential, Seven) and a very underrated actor named Chazz Palminteri (A Bronx Tale, Analyze This, A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints)Kevin Spacey does an amazing job in this film which later won him the Oscar for Best Actor (the film also won an Oscar for Best Writing).
  This film does have it's slow parts but it is well worth it.  If this is the first time you will see it, here's a little advice: make sure you pay close attention to the entire movie (even at the slow parts).  After I saw this film for the first time, I immdeiatly watched it again to try to understand the ending.  This may be one of Bryan Singer's (Apt Pupil, X-Men, X-Men 2, Valkyrie) first films but it is one of his best (if not THE best).  After watching the film you will understand why the tagline for the film is what it is.
Famous Tagline:
    "Who Is Keyser Söze?"


13. King of New York (1990)-
  You may be asking yourself, "Why is this film so high on the list?"  Well this film isn't exactly an amazing piece of film and when it comes to the best films of all time it wouldn't be as high on the list as The Usual Suspects, American Gangster, The Departed, and other films on this list; however, this film is the definition of a gangster film. 
  The film opens with a drug lord named Frank White (Christopher Walken- True Romance, Pulp Fiction, The Deer Hunter) being released from prison.  While out, he is now determined to whipe out all of his competition.  Once he acheives his goal, he plans to distribute all of the profits he makes to the city's (NYC) lower class.  Along for the ride is Jimmy Jump (Laurence Fishburne- Apocalypse Now, The Matrix, Higher Learning). However like most gangster films, he is going to run into the law.  The law in this film consist of Dennis Gilley (David Caruso- Rambo: First Blood, CSI: Miami) and Thomas Flanigan (Wesley Snipes- Blade, The Fan, Rising Sun). 
  You could say that this film is a modern take on Robin Hood; if you were to replace the bow and arrow for a machine gun and shotgun.  This film is one of the darkest films on this list and a good one at that.

Best Quote(s):
  Frank White: From now on, nothing goes down unless I'm involved. No blackjack no dope deals, no nothing. A nickel bag gets sold in the park, I want in. You guys got fat while everybody starved on the street. Now it's my turn.

 12. Once Upon A Time In America (1984)-
  Number twelve on this list is Sergio Leone's master piece "Once Upon A Time In America".  Based on the book with the same name written by Harry Grey, Once Upon A Time In America is directed by Sergio Leone who is famous for his westerns with Clint Eastwood (including Fistfull of Dollars and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly).  Leone teamed up with a great cast including Robert DeNiro (Casino, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Godfather Part: II), James Woods (Casino, The Virgin Suicides, Vampires), and Joe Pesci (Casino, Goodfellas, My Cousin Vinny, Raging Bull) to create what would be his last film before his death in 1989.   
  The film tells a story of a Prohibition-era gangster named David "Noodles" Aaronson (DeNiro) that returns to Brooklyn after 30 years. Without spoiling the main plot, while there he must once again confront everything about his old life of being a gangster. 
  Running in at 229 minutes ( 3 hours and 49 minutes) Once Upon A Time In America is a superb film.  You can tell by the way the film was shot that this was directed by Sergio Leone.  The acting in the film is incredible and it is another film that brings together two of my favorite actors in gangster films; DeNiro and Pesci.  If it's a rainy day and you have almost four hours to kill, check out this film; you won't be disapointed.  
Famous Tagline:
  "As boys, they made a pact to share their fortunes, their loves, their lives. As men, they shared a dream to rise from poverty to power. Forging an empire built on greed, violence and betrayal, their dream would end as a mystery that refuse to die."


11. The Untouchables (1987)-
  If you were to name the first person you could think of from the Prohibition Era, I bet bost of you would say Al Capone.  Al Capone was one of the most ruthless and most well known gangsters of our time and in "The Untouchables" his capture is brought to the big screen. 
  The movie was done by   well-known director Brian De Palma (Scarface, Carlito's Way, Mission: Impossible).  In the film, he brings together a great cast to tell the story of Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner- Dances With Wolves, Field of Dreams, Waterworld) and his band of agents that try to stop the Capone (Robert De Niro- Goodfellas, Once Upon A Time In America, Casino, Goodfellas). DeNiro must have done alot of practicing for the part as Capone and it shows (literally.... the fact that he put on the pounds prooves it). 
  Ness (Costner) is determined to get Capone (De Niro) behind bars. At first, he is considered the laughing stock of the FBI and is ridiculed by the press and Capone.  Ness then assembles a small hand picked group to help him out.  The group consists of Malone (Sean Connery- Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Dr. No, The Rock, The Hunt For Red October), Agent Wallace (Charles Martin Smith- American Graffiti, The Buddy Holly Story, Starman), and Agent Stone (Andy Garcia- The Godfather Part: III, Smokin' Aces, Ocean's Eleven).  Together they fight against the gangsters and thugs in Capone's organization.  What proceeds is the capture of Al Capone and the etching of Elliot Ness into the history books. 

  From the great cast and the scene-driven musical score, to the great dialogue and witty comments made by the characters; this film is an all around great film.  If that isn't a good enough reason to go see this movie then maybe the fact that Capone is played by De Niro is. 

Best Quote(s):
  1. Capone: I want you to get this fuck where he breathes! I want you to find this nancy-boy Eliot Ness, I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go there in the middle of the night and I wanna PISS ON HIS ASHES!
  2. Malone: Isn't that just like a wop? Brings a knife to a gun fight.
  3. Malone: If you're afraid of getting a rotten apple, don't go to the barrel. Get it off the tree.
  4. Capone: People are gonna drink! You know that, I know that, we all know that, and all I do is act on that. And all this talk of bootlegging - what is bootlegging? On a boat, it's bootlegging. On Lake Shore Drive, it's hospitality. I'm a businessman!

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