California Literary Review

Profile of George Anastasia, Glen Macnow

Bio:

George Anastasia is a crime reporter for the “Philadelphia Inquirer” and author of several books, including “Blood and Honor” which Jimmy Breslin called “the best gangster book ever written.”

Glen Macnow was a writer for the “Philadelphia Inquirer” and “Detroit Free Press.” He is currently a talk-radio host on 610-WIP in Philadelphia.

George and Glen have co-authored “The Ultimate Book of Gangster Movies.”

Articles written for the California Literary Review:

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: The Godfather, #1
    Posted on 29 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    The Godfather made careers, most notably those of Francis Ford Coppola and Al Pacino, despite the fact that both of them were almost fired during production. All these years later, it’s still thrilling to watch Pacino as Michael, the Don’s youngest son, evolve from an innocent outsider among his own family into a stone-hearted killer. Watch Pacino’s eyes deaden over the course of the 175-minute film as he becomes the man his father never wanted him to be. It’s why The Godfather is, ultimately, a tragedy.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: The Godfather: Part II, #2
    Posted on 28 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    Al Pacino reprises his role as Michael and offers us an Ivy League Machiavelli. He has his father’s cunning and guile, but somewhere along the way lost his compassion. How else do you explain his decision to have his own brother, Fredo (John Cazale), killed long after any damage Fredo has done to the family has been repaired?

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Goodfellas, #3
    Posted on 27 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    There is no romance here. No looking out for one’s people. No myth of a moral code. Instead, GoodFellas is about psychopaths who steal, kill and ultimately betray each other. It’s two-and-a-half hours of blood, depravity and—that most American of vices—greed. Director Martin Scorsese summed up his subjects’ wiseguy lifestyle in three words: “Want. Take. Simple.” Oh, and by the way, it’s a brilliant movie packed with dozens of colorful characters.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: On the Waterfront, #4
    Posted on 26 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    All these years later, On the Waterfront continues to work as a magnificent bit of drama—and as a gangster movie. The story of a little man caught between principles and loyalties always resonates. And, last we checked, the problem of mob influence on America’s labor unions hasn’t gone away.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Pulp Fiction, #5
    Posted on 25 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    Part of the joy is not always knowing who the good guys are. Tarantino shot Pulp Fiction as a time-twisting weave of stories where villains can become heroes, or a guy peppered with bullets in one scene comes back from the dead, so to speak, in the next. Behind it all is a hipness in everything from the wardrobe to the set design to the beat-heavy soundtrack that kicks off with Dick Dale’s guitar classic “Misirlou” in the opening credits.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Little Caesar, #6
    Posted on 24 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    Enrico Bandello was the prototype for every film gangster who followed. The tight-fitting three-piece suits, the high-collared shirt and tie, the fedora and the ever-present cigar—Rico brought it all to the big screen. There was also the tough-guy lingo, usually delivered out of the side of the mouth.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: The Departed, #7
    Posted on 23 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    There are references to Hawthorne, Shakespeare and James Joyce. Conversely, and while we didn’t keep count, the IMDb website notes that the film also includes 237 uses of the word “fuck” or its derivatives. According to IMDb, that’s the most ever in a film that won the Best Picture Oscar.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Donnie Brasco, #8
    Posted on 22 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    One of the reasons the movie works so well is the interplay between Pacino and Johnny Depp, who established himself as more than just a pretty-boy actor with his performance here as Joe Pistone. Using the undercover name Donnie Brasco (a name Pistone “borrowed” from a cousin), the street-smart, New Jersey-raised FBI agent manages to infiltrate a major New York crime family by posing as a jewel thief and hustler who knows how to make money.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: The Usual Suspects, #9
    Posted on 21 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    The genesis of this complex thriller was a magazine article, or—more accurately—the headline of an article. Director Bryan Singer was thumbing through Spy magazine in 1992 when he turned to a story entitled, “The Usual Suspects” after Claude Rains’ classic line in Casablanca. Hmm, thought Singer. Now that would make a good title for a movie.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Casino, #10
    Posted on 20 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    In the opening shot of Casino, a man in a salmon-colored sports jacket climbs into his Lincoln Continental. He turns the key and the car explodes. Then, as director Martin Scorsese explains it, “You see him in slow motion, flying over the flames—like a soul about to take a dive into hell.”

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Scarface: The Shame of a Nation, #11
    Posted on 19 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    Still, there’s something beyond the stereotypes and the arcane movie talk that makes this a great film. For one, the story it tells remains—as it was then—the American dream come to life: an immigrant from humble beginnings gets the money, gets the power, gets the women. The bad guy has always mesmerized audiences, and Muni is as magnetic as Robert De Niro and Al Pacino were a half-century later.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Once Upon a Time in America, #12
    Posted on 18 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    Once Upon a Time in America tells the lifelong tale of a clan of Jewish mobsters. It has two main chapters—set in 1920 and 1933—plus a third chapter, set in 1968. Each chapter deals with power and sex and treachery.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Léon: The Professional, #13
    Posted on 17 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    He’s a highly efficient—but in many ways naïve—hit man who drinks milk, exercises religiously and seems obsessed with the care and maintenance of a houseplant. She’s a 12-year-old who smokes, curses and is wise way beyond her years. Together they form an unlikely crime team in this fascinating and unusual look at the New York underworld.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Mean Streets, #14
    Posted on 16 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    One of the best things about watching Mean Streets more than 30 years after its debut is that you know what’s coming after this. And so you look and you watch and you listen for little signs—small scenes that are the roots and the seedlings of the Scorsese/De Niro oeuvre.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Reservoir Dogs, #15
    Posted on 15 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    Reservoir Dogs is an action film without much action. A crime drama in which you never see the main crime take place. A comedy that makes you sometimes feel uneasy about laughing. A buddy movie where the buddies end up killing each other.

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