Watching The Petrified Forest you can see Bogey developing his craft. Riffing off of John Dillinger, he holds his arms at a curious angle, like he is about to reach for a gun. (For decades, Bogey impersonators would ape that posture.) Bogart studied films of Dillinger and tries here to recreate the famous bank robber’s battered facial expression and insolent demeanor.
100 Greatest Gangster Films
March 28th, 2013
March 21st, 2013
The frantic pace and relentless violence drive home the promotional tagline that so accurately described the film: “Fight and you’ll never survive. . . . Run and you’ll never escape.”
March 14th, 2013
Based loosely on the life and times of Harlem drug kingpin Frank Lucas, American Gangster was an attempt to do for America’s black underworld what the Godfather films did for the American Mafia.
March 7th, 2013
There’s a fascinating blend of flag waver and felon in the English bulldog character created by Bob Hoskins in The Long Good Friday. Comparing his homeland with that of a visiting American Mafiosi, Shand says, “Look what England has given to the world: culture, sophistication, genius. A little bit more than the hot dog, know what I mean?”
February 28th, 2013
Two Irish hit men, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson), are sent to Bruges, a picturesque medieval city in Belgium, to hide out after a hit in London goes awry.
February 21st, 2013
Pépé le Moko is described as a foray into poetic realism and as the precursor to what became known as film noir. The movie works in large part because of Gabin, who portrays the gangster Pépé as a multidimensional character whose flaws are also his charms.
February 14th, 2013
Joey Cusack was the nastiest guy in Philadelphia’s Irish mob. He killed dozens, sometimes without the go-ahead from his bosses. Had a real vicious side. Carved up a made man with barbed wire once, scraping out his eye. And then, he wanted out.
February 7th, 2013
There is no glamour in the underworld of Eddie Coyle, nor is there any attempt by the director to pretend that there is. This is a gritty, realistic look at “the life.” And while those who love the movie compare it favorably to The Departed, this film’s hard-luck lead protagonist and his inevitable fate are more reminiscent of Al Pacino’s role in Donnie Brasco. But either comparison is high praise.
January 31st, 2013
The twisting, amusing heist movie was written and directed by Guy Ritchie, a 29-year-old Brit who never went to film school and learned his craft by creating music videos and TV commercials. Unfortunately, as we see it, this feature-length debut also serves as the high point of Ritchie’s career—unless you count his eight-year marriage to Madonna.
January 24th, 2013
In a cast as deep as the 1998 Yankees, two performances stand out. Character actor Jon Polito is riveting as Johnny Caspar, the perspiring old-school gangster who also serves as Miller’s Crossing’s street-level philosopher. And John Turturro steals scenes as Bernie, the double-crossing bookie at the center of all the trouble.
January 17th, 2013
Martin Scorsese used this movie as the framework for The Departed. And while Infernal Affairs has received high praise and dozens of awards, the feeling here is that Scorsese took an interesting plot and made it into a classic film.
January 10th, 2013
Underworld, U.S.A.’s original opening—in which prostitutes joke of starting a union and holding a “stand-up strike”—was deleted. Shots of hardcore drug use were edited out, as was a pioneering nude scene. The number of killings was sliced from 18 to five. More than 20 pages of script were blue-penciled.
January 3rd, 2013
This is an old-fashioned boy-meets-girl love story, filtered (perhaps scrambled is a better word) through the artistic lens of Quentin Tarantino, who wrote the screenplay for director Tony Scott.
December 27th, 2012
As a prison movie, it would rank in our all-time Top 10. As a gangster movie, not as high, but we do heartily recommend it. The film is directed by Jacques Audiard, whom critics delight in calling “The French Scorsese.”
December 20th, 2012
A child murderer is terrorizing the city. The police hunt is intense, but fruitless. So the cops redouble their efforts—rousting bars, hassling citizens walking the night streets, turning a bright spotlight on the creatures of the back alleys. The killer still remains at large, but there’s an unexpected side effect: with every flophouse and crime den being raided on a nightly basis, the underworld pimps, thieves and pushers cannot operate.
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