15. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
They're young. They're in love. And they kill people! So proclaimed the tagline to Arthur Penn's blistering lovers-on-the-lam epic. This is about as sexy and red-blooded as murder gets. It's a supercool tale of romance, firearms, and how to floor it when you've got half the state on your tail.Watching the film feels like bearing witness to the bitter demise of 60s idealism, grafted onto the story of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway's eponymous natural born killers cheerily pillaging their way across sun-dappled, Depression-era America. It's a unique fuck-you to the film establishment of the time - with very cool hats. It's perhaps most fondly-remembered for that bullet-riddled finale; despite its cinematic excess, it's desperately tragic.
14. Breathless (1960)
Jean-Luc Godard's crime classic is the quintessential movie of the French New Wave.Jean-Paul Belmondo, a whole new style of movie star with his boxers nose and thick lips, is Michel, a petty thief who kills a cop down south and heads for Paris to look up Patricia (Jean Seberg), an American student. Michel's US-gangster pose is lifted straight from Jean-Pierre Melville (who takes a cameo role) but the jump-cuts, hand-held camera, improvised jazz score and quirky shifts of pace and mood are all Godard. As Roger Ebert once said, modern movies begin here. You really won't see another gangster film like it.
13. Le Samourai (1961)
Jean-Pierre Melville's gangsters stalk the Parisian backstreets in trenchcoats and trilbies, shoulders weighted with existential angst. Sounds grim, doesn't it? It's not. These bad guys are chic. Even on the run, Alain Delon's hitman looks like he's just stepped out of a photoshoot.It's more concise than the directors' earlier hoodlum flicks. There's no dilly-dallying, but there's still a lot of time spent on the details. Le Samourai regards criminal activity - like Delon stealing a Citron in the virtuoso opening - with an obsessive eye for detail. Melville's movies were basically the Warner Brothers Bogart-Cagney films set to this French-Parisian rhythm.
12. Casino (1995)
Even bigger and bolder than Goodfellas, Casino might be a bit long, but it has more swearing and a better tailor. Plus, we get to see Joe Pesci's pen-stabbing lesson to some unlucky guy who disrespects Robert De Niro. It's the Shakespearean mirror-image to Scorsese's mob masterwork, telling the giddy rise-and-fall tale of ultra-smooth mafia honcho Sam "Ace" Rothstein (Robert De Niro). He's parachuted in as the new boss of Vegas Tangiers casino, and lives the high-life for a while, until his efforts are thwarted by his psychotic pal (Joe Pesci, inevitably) and troubled wife (Sharon Stone).
11. Pulp Fiction (1994)
"Gangster films are sort of parodies of the American Dream," explains Quentin Tarantino. "They're a skewed, bizarro world of getting rich in business in America. There always has to be some sort of satire on the American lifestyle." So is that why Jules and Vincent go about their business like ordinary schmoes, shooting the shit about burgers and foot massages on their way to make a killing? It's their very ordinariness that makes them, in the world of gangster movies, extraordinary. Tarantino winds their tale together with several different stories, all told out-of-order, and creates a modern masterpiece. A movie where it's perfectly acceptable for an entire act to be spent on two LA mobsters getting schooled in cleaning a brain-splattered car. Genius.