Top 10 Greatest Gangster Movies of All Time

Top 10 Greatest Gangster Movies of All Time

Are you a fan of mafia movies? Love watching a villain as the protagonist who uses his power, intimidation and violence to control people. Then you might love watching greatest gangster movie where outlaws are the protagonists.  

There is only one genre of movies that influence people’s perspective about gangsters in the world, it’s the gangster movie genre. From the Pre-code era to the present gang life scenario, mob or gangster movies have only evolved a lot. But most of the main components or characteristics of a hood or mob movie remain the same. 

Be it the poor upbringings resulting in a life of crime to survive and be rich, or the violence and power struggle to control people or regions. Any gangster movie has these sis characteristics, violence, murder, sex, illegal trade, dark back story and the mole who outs the gangster to the police. 

In this article we talked about the greatest gangster movie Underworld which created the perception of gangsters which you see in the present. We also listed 10 greatest gangster movies of all time which have captivating stories and characters that are loved even today. These movies also were hits of their time and created careers for many well-known actors like Al Pacino, Robert de Niro, and Edward James Olmos. 

The Movie Which Started It All: Underworld  

When talking about the greatest gangster movie of all time, then it must be Underworld (1927) that created the craze for gangster movies among masses. The movie was released in the pre-code era when films were not regulated, and movies were made taking influence from Prohibition era.  

In the Prohibition era, several gangsters like Al Capone or Vincent Coll were notorious for their illegal trades and murders. In these times crimes were all time high and people lived in fear of the gangs or mobs instead of the law.  

Hence when Underworld was released people it generated a picture of a gangster lifestyle making people crave for that kind of power even ignore the law. Ordinary public wanted glamour, riches, and power which they could not even imagine at that period. 

Funny enough ordinary people still can’t afford that life and hence gangster movies like. Underworld, Godfather Trilogy, Scarface, Public Enemy and Scarface are still loved by many. The gangster genre has a separate fan base till today.  

Top 10 Greatest Gangster Movies of All Time

Top 10 Greatest Gangster Movies of All Time 

Here are the top 10 greatest gangster movies of all time which have a captivating plot, characters and actors who bring the movie to life. 

Little Caesar (1931) 

Little Caesar is a pre-code gangster movie that is directed by Mervyn LeRoy. The movie stars Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Glenda Farrel. Little Caesar is loosely based on the life of Salvatore Maranzano, the Italian- American mafia boss in 1920s.  

Caesar Enrico Bandello (Edward Robinson) and Joe Massara (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) come to Chicago to earn fortune. Caesar rises through the ranks to become the most notorious gangster, Little Caesar. He controls the Northside of Chicago and becomes a cutthroat leader who only craves power.  

Watch the movie to know how Caesar life of power and violence ends in the movie. 

Goodfellas (1990) 

Goodfellows ranks among the top 10 greatest gangster movies of all time. Goodfellas is a biographical crime movie about Henry Hill Jr., an American gangster of New York in the 1960s until his imprisonment in 1980. The movie tells Henry Hill’s rise to power in the 1960s. 

Goodfellas is directed by celebrated director, Martin Scorsese and stars the famous Robert De Niro, Lorraine Bracco, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci and Paul Sorvino. Goodfellas is a movie that will be timeless because of the actors who portrayed their roles phenomenally making the movie a hit even today. 

Boyz N the Hood (1991) 

This 1992 movie Boyz N the Hood, is a coming-of-age movie in gangster crime genre which is the greatest gangster movie of this kind. The movie is directed by John Singleton and stars Larry Fishburne, Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut and Cuba Gooding Jr. 

Boyz N the Hood is about Tre Styles played by Cuba Gooding Jr., who is send to his father Furious Styles played by Larry Fishburne to live in a neighborhood filled with gangs. Tre Styles meets three young men of his age at school, Darrin Baker (Ice Cube) and his half-brother Ricky (Morris Chestnut) and Chris (Redge Green), their friend. 

The movie highlights their lives in a gang dominated environment where escaping the hood life is impossible. This is among the greatest gangster movies that has shown the audience what it’s like to grow up in a gang dominated neighborhood in America. 

The Godfather II (1974) 

Godfather Trilogy itself falls among the top 10 greatest gangster movies of all time. Godfather II is the second installment of the Godfather movies directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The movie revolves around Michael Corleone played by Al Pacino. Michael is the youngest son of Vito Corleone played by Robert De Niro.  

The movie shoes how Micheal as the new boss of the Corleone family deals with the aftermath of his decisions taken as the leader. He tries his best to protect his family from the harm caused by his decisions as the mob boss. At the same time, he also deals with his enemies who have already attempted to take his life. 

This movie shows the dark side of the mafia world and how their lifestyle is. The movie is full of action, violence, and murders. It’s a must watch movie in gangster genre movies. 

Scarface (1983) 

Scarface is a 1983 gangster crime movie inspired by 1920s gangster Al Capone. The movie protagonist Tony Montana played by Al Pacino tells the story of a Cuban refugee who turned from rags to riches by becoming a drug lord. 

Scarface is directed by Brian De Palma and explores the struggles of a refugee and how his desperation to survive and find fortune turns him to organized crime. The movie stars some of the well-known actors of the time Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Robert Loggia, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and F. Murray Abraham. 

The Departed 

The Departed is another gangster movie which you can watch that is directed by the Academy Award winner director, Martin Scorsese. The movie starts Lionardo Dicaprio and Matt Damon who plays Willian Costigan Jr. And Colin Sullivan who respectively goes undercover in a gang and police department as moles. 

The movie is loosely based on the Whitey Bulgar who was an Irish American gangster and crime boss. 

American Gangster 

The 2007 biographical film, American Gangster based on American criminal Frank Lucas is among the best black gangster movies on Netflix. The movie was directed by Steven Zaillian, and stars Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas.  

The movie stars other celebrated actors like Russel Crowe, Carla Gugino, Josh Brolin, Idris Elba, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ruby Dee and many more names from the film industry. 

Once Upon A Time In America 

Once Upon A Time In America is one of the best gangster movies of all time which was directed by Sergio Leone, a legendary Italian filmmaker. Robert De Niro, a celebrated American actor and producer who gave his film career’s best performance as an opium sick and conflicted gangster in this movie. 

This movie also stars James Wood as ‘Max.’ This movie is based on the novel, The Hoods by Harry Grey about two friends David Aaronson or Noodles and Maximilian Bercovicz or Max played by Wood. These two friends lead the Jewish ghetto youths to rise as prominent gangsters in the New York City.   

The Irishmen  

The Irishmen is an epic gangster movie directed by celebrated director and producer Martin Scorsese. The Irishman stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Ray Romano. The movie’s protagonist is Frank Sheeran played by Robert De Niro who becomes a mafia hitman from being an ordinary truckman. Frank works for Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and his family initially but later gets hired by Teamster Jimmy Hoffa played by Al Pacino. 

The Irishman is one of the greatest gangster movies to be made with perfect casting and a storyline that can captivate the audience of any era. 

American Me (1992) 

The greatest gangster movie of a real-life Mexican mafia boss is American Me starring Edward James Olmos. Americana Me inspired from the real-life Latino-American gangster, Rodolfo Cadena’s life story. The movie is also directed by Edward James Olmos while its screen play is written by Desmond Nakano and Floyd Mutrux. 

The movie shows the protagonist, Montoya Santana (Olmos) who is a gangster who led a gang life for 30 years in California prison system are rose to power as a Mexican mafia. After his release from the prison, he tries to leave his life as a gangster but it’s harder than it seems. 


These several other gangster movies that are loved by people like The Public Enemy, The Untouchables, Akira, Tokyo Drift, The Godfather Trilogy and so on. But listed movies are the greatest gangster movies that remain evergreen because of the characters and plot.  

Let us know which is your greatest gangster movie of all time. Which among the listed top 10 greatest gangster movies have you watched previously?

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