In The Last Rites of Joe May (now on VOD; here’s my review) Dennis Farina plays one of those aging crooks whose last gesture is heroic, self-sacrificing, redemptive – the easier to like him, guilt-free. (You can’t quite say the same about those sympathy-for-the-devil guys named Corleone or Soprano.) Here are a few other favorite movie gangsters who make their late-in-the-day choices their best.
ATLANTIC CITY (1980)
Burt Lancaster is magnificent as the proud, aging small-time gangster who has a fling with Susan Sarandon’s would-be casino dealer, then sends her freely on her way. Louis Malle’s atmospheric film holds up beautifully.
We forgive him. A Clint Eastwood masterpiece, as he stars and directs the story of a Western outlaw brought back from retirement, who faces some dicey moral choices.
ROAD TO PERDITION (2002)
Even when Tom Hanks plays a hit man he’s the hero. In Sam Mendes Depression-era film, he sacrifices everything for his small son. A highlight: Paul Newman as an unredeemed gangster. Sometimes you just have to love the bad guy.
Research by NATALIE WRIGHT