Who doesn’t love a good gangster movie? They contain some of the most iconic characters (“Scarface”), memorable scenes (“The Godfather”), and best lines (anything from “The Untouchables”) in cinema. There’s a reason producers keep returning to organized crime — when the stars align, mafia films are hard to top, reaping big box office returns and raking in both awards and critical acclaim. Hollywood’s been making gangster flicks for almost as long as there’s been a movie industry, since the time when actual gangsters ran speakeasies and smuggled hooch from state to state.
Prolific Vimeo user Jorge Luengo Ruiz has crafted yet another supercut, this time paying tribute to over 80 years of gangsters in movies. The not-quite-three-and-a-half-minute video begins with a defining bit of voice over from Henry Hill (Ray Liotta, “Goodfellas”), which sums up the supercut perfectly. “As far back as I could remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” From there forward, Luengo splices together shots from 50 of the most recognizable gangster movies.
The earliest films he includes both date back to 1931: Mervyn LeRoy’s “Little Caesar” and William A. Wellman’s “The Public Enemy.” Luengo includes two other films from the 1930s, and then jumps forward almost two decades to 1954’s “On the Waterfront,” directed by Elia Kazan. “Bonnie & Clyde” is the only film from the ‘60s to make the cut, but there are a handful from both the ‘70s and ‘80s. Looking at Luengo’s choices, one would assume that Hollywood’s fascination with gangsters really skyrocketed in the ‘90s. There are six films in the supercut from 1990 alone (“Dick Tracy,” “The Godfather Part III,” the incomparable “Goodfellas,” “King of New York,” “Miller’s Crossing,” and “State of Grace”). Another half dozen films used came out between 1991 and 1994 (“Bugsy,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “A Bronx Tale,” “Carlito’s Way,” “True Romance,” and “Pulp Fiction”).
Oddly, perhaps, the video features a lot of James Franco’s Alien from “Spring Breakers.” Next to Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger (“Public Enemies”), Al Capone (“The Untouchables”), and so many others, he’s nothing but a common thug, practically unworthy of so much repeated inclusion. That said, the selection is important in helping chart the evolution of the Hollywood gangster, from Prohibition Era bootleggers to Depression Era bank robbers, from the Italian mob to casino honchos, from Eastern European syndicates to local street toughs. Luengo’s selection of films from the ‘90s and later definitely begins to display a shift from the more traditional tommy-gun gangster to hoodlums, thugs, and atypical mobsters. Tarantino’s films are a great example, as are Guy Ritchie’s and even Nicolas Winding Refn’s (“Drive”).
Watch the entire supercut below. [35MM]