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

    A remake of the 1932 classic of the same name starring Paul Muni, Al Pacino’s Scarface is more often compared to his other underworld epics, The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II. All four movies are about the immigrant experience and a charismatic figure from the underclass using any means possible to realize the American dream. The dream, of course, becomes a nightmare.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: White Heat, #17
    Posted on 13 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    This was film noir, movies where evil not only exists, but flourishes. Cagney’s Cody Jarrett isn’t a charismatic outlaw who viewers could vicariously admire, but rather a despicable embodiment of immorality, a man who takes what he wants whenever he wants it, mocking and abusing all those he comes in contact with—including the cops, members of his own gang and his less-than-virtuous wife, Verna (Virginia Mayo).

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: A Bronx Tale, #18
    Posted on 12 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    A Bronx Tale is more than a wonderful portrait of growing up around the mob in the 1960s. Written by Chazz Palminteri, directed by Robert De Niro and starring both, the movie is a primer on life. No film this side of The Godfather provides as many valuable life lessons.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Bonnie and Clyde, #19
    Posted on 10 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    “Young people understood this movie instantly,” director Arthur Penn told the Los Angeles Times. “They saw Bonnie and Clyde as rebels like themselves. It was a movie that spoke to a generation in a way none of us had really expected.”

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Carlito’s Way, #20
    Posted on 09 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    Brian De Palma was worried about doing another Hispanic drug kingpin movie after Scarface. But the story and the acting in Carlito’s Way go in such a different direction that there ended up being few similarities between the two films. This is a personal look at one man’s attempt at redemption. Scarface, on the other hand, is a saga about one man’s one-way trip to hell.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: The Pope of Greenwich Village, #21
    Posted on 08 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    To appreciate just how well director Stuart Rosenberg and writer Vincent Patrick captured wiseguy street corner ethos in this classic mob tale, you have to understand the meaning of an Italian phrase that has come to define the way certain mobsters act. The phrase is faccia una bella figura. Literally, it means “make a good impression.” But in fact the phrase conveys much more. It describes an attitude, an approach to life that is more typically found in the southern half of Italy, especially in Naples and points south.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Gangs of New York, #22
    Posted on 07 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    Before there was John Gotti, before Carlo Gambino, before Lucky Luciano, there was Bill “the Butcher” Poole. The 19th-century boxer, fixer and, yes, actual butcher, was a forerunner of the mobsters who later controlled New York City.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: The Public Enemy, #23
    Posted on 06 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    Cagney, along with Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni and, later, Humphrey Bogart, invented the film gangster. Each brought a sense of the street and gritty realism. For Cagney, that came naturally. He grew up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and had to drop out of college after one semester when his father died. He knew how to be tough, in an argument or in a rumble.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Sexy Beast, #24
    Posted on 05 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    Sir Ben Kingsley becomes the ruthless Logan in Sexy Beast, and he’s 90 percent of the reason to watch the movie. The plotline here is straightforward, nothing special really. The action is sporadic. The supporting cast is strong—led by British veteran Ray Winstone, who’s actually the film’s lead, and Ian McShane, who can always dial up ominous. But it’s Kingsley—throwing off Gandhi’s loincloth and round spectacles—who becomes the savage bully you’ll remember long after viewing Sexy Beast.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Road to Perdition, #25
    Posted on 03 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    Road to Perdition, a period piece about one branch of the Chicago crime family in the 1930s, is really a story about fathers and sons.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Get Shorty, #26
    Posted on 02 May 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    One year after reviving his career in Pulp Fiction, John Travolta gracefully slipped back into the role of a mobster. Like Vincent Vega, Get Shorty’s Chili Palmer is ultracool, sharp-witted and drawn to dressing in black. He can shatter your nose with a punch or fire his Colt Detective Special accurately enough to add a part to your hairline.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Rififi, #27
    Posted on 25 Apr 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, France, Movies, Movies & TV

    That these guys are, as the French say, sympathique, is evident from the beginning of the robbery when Tony tucks a pillow behind the head of the elderly woman to make her more comfortable after she and her husband have been gagged and tied up. A clock ticking on a mantel provides a time line for the heist, which begins shortly before midnight and doesn’t end until six the next morning. In film time, the robbery takes about 30 minutes. And during those minutes, not a word—NOT ONE WORD—is spoken.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: The Untouchables, #28
    Posted on 18 Apr 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    In the midst of a dinner party in his honor, Capone (Robert De Niro) takes out a Louisville Slugger and delivers a tribute to baseball as the All-American sport. As his underlings smoke cigars and chuckle in agreement, Capone circles a huge round table—finally stopping behind one nodding toadie. He briefly speaks of betrayal and then applies a few Ruthian swings to the employee’s skull.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: Eastern Promises, #29
    Posted on 12 Apr 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Great Britain, Movies, Movies & TV, Russia

    The diary of Tatiana (Tatiana Maslany), a 14-year-old, drug-addicted prostitute who dies while giving birth to a daughter in a London hospital, sets the film in motion. Her account of how and why she came to London—provided by periodic voice-overs as the diary is translated from Russian—offers a back story of the mob’s involvement in white slavery and English brothels.

  • 100 Greatest Gangster Films: The French Connection, #30
    Posted on 04 Apr 2013 in 100 Greatest Gangster Films, Movies, Movies & TV

    New York City is more gritty than pretty in this period piece, which was shot before the Big Apple’s late-20th century revival. The skies are gray, vacant lots are strewn with debris and there’s a doomed look to the city—right down to the rusty Rheingold beer signs. It’s not attractive, but the urban tangle is a genuine representation of a time and place.

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