I know I’ve been away a while, just found it hard to watch as much films as I would need to in order to participate. Anyway, im here this week!
And this week the theme is gangsters. Funsies. Of course there are a ton of famous gangster movies such as The Godfather, Goodfelleas, Casino, White Heat but the gangster genre was at its peak around the time talkies were all the rage (and just before the Hays Code) so it’s not a surprise one of my picks is from that era.
I could have picked numerous movies from pre-code America, but if they didn’t star either James Cagney (The Public Enemy), Edward G Robinson (Little Ceasar) or Paul Muni (Scarface) I was picking worngly. This was when the gangster genre was at its most popular as the lack of the Hays Code allowed them to be a little more violent, raunchier, riskier and bolder than one would expect for the 1930s. Little Ceasar isn’t quite as brutal as some of its rivals (such as Scarface), but it had a tough, sleazy tone that worked wonders for the film's atmosphere. It also made a name of the great character actor Edward G Robinson.
Any heist film that was made after 1955 was perhaps influenced by this classic French Noir. Jules Dassin’s Rififi is famous for its 30-minute dialogue free heist sequence which, to this day, remains influential. Such as its influence, real life thieves copied the techniques employed by the gangsters and thieves and therefore the movie was banned in some parts (such as Finland and Mexico).
The most modern movie on this list is one you’ve probably seen. Fernando Meirelles’ Cidade de Deus (City of God) sprawls three decades (starting in the 1960s and ending in the 80s) and is set in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. The film tackes themes of poverty, violence and why this life appeals to the young. It’s a gripping and powerful film and one of the best of the century.