On the occasion of a new addition to the gangster genre (Michael Mann's "Public Enemies," about famed gangster John Dillinger, starring Johnny Depp), Q's Screenboy Jesse Wente offers his take on the best and the worst gangster movies of all time.
JESSE WENTE'S TOP FIVE GANGSTER MOVIES EVER
1/ The Godfather/The Godfather II: Of course - is there any other answer? No, there is not. Two of the greatest American movies ever, let alone gangster movies. The films by which all other on this list are measured, I had to list them together of they would have taken up the top two spots.
2/ Battles Without Honor and Humanity series: I cheat again, by including the entire five film series in this spot, but it deserves it. The films that forever changed the Japanese gangster movie, bringing a realism and grittiness, along with a moral ambiguity, that is present even today. Available is an awesome DVD box set.
3/ Goodfellas: Martin Scorcese's masterpiece is a terrifying and brutal tale that stands in stark contract to Coppola's more operatic films. Tremendous performances, astonishing photography and a ferocity rare seen today made this an instant classic.
4/ Bonnie and Clyde: A pivotal American movie, it said goodbye to one era, the idealistic '60s, and greeted a new one, the cynical '70s, while also ushering a new era of American movies which embraced violence and dark themes, making for one of the great ages of cinema in Hollywood.
5/ The Long Good Friday: Awesome British gangster movie feature Bob Hoskin's as a mobster trying to grow his influence by partnering with an American gangster, only to see his empire under attack. Helen Mirren is his gun moll. Love it.
(If this list went to 10: Le Samourai, Miller's Crossing, Get Carter, Sonatine, State of Grace)
JESSE WENTE'S TOP FIVE WORST GANGSTER MOVIES EVER
1/ My Blue Heaven: Ummm.....Steve Martin as an Italian mobster who moves to the suburbs? Really? And I can't get a single idea greenlit in Hollywood? Really?
2/ Mickey Blue Eyes: Hugh Grant falls for the daughter of a mobster played by James Caan. How could this not work? Because it has Hugh Grant and James Caan on screen together. Really, not one idea?
3/ Dick Tracy: Warren Beatty lost his mind making this appalling comic book adaptation, that buries its brilliant cast in pounds of make-up that looks exactly like pounds of make-up. Plus, it has Madonna.
4/ Analyze This: Robert De Niro continues to erase his legacy with this lifeless, unfunny movie from comic genius Harold Ramis. De Niro and Billy Crystal should have never shared the screen. An even more depressing, but thankfully much less successful sequel followed.
5/ Bugsy Malone: A gangster movie for kids, starring kids, including a pre-Chachi Scott Baio and Jodie Foster. Not fun when I was a kid, and worse now.