The rise of the mob in America can be tied to the passing of the 18th Amendment on Jan. 16, 1919, which banned the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” and essentially made the United States a dry country. Unsurprisingly, the amendment didn’t go over well with all Americans, and the demand for illegal and bootleg spirits increased dramatically. Many gangs that had been loosely organized up to that point capitalized on this new market and began producing and distributing alcohol, in the process morphing into organized crime syndicates along the way.
As time went by, these newly formed groups began to engage in other illegal activities like money laundering, smuggling goods, and bribing police, while adhering to strict codes of conduct and discretion in an effort to avoid the hand of the law. Eventually, the mob became one of the most powerful forces in the country, holding enormous influence over American life for much of the 20th century.
While the mob doesn’t really exist in America today the way it did in the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, it hasn’t completely vanished. Additionally, organized crime as a whole—from street gangs to drug cartels—has grown in recent years, a fact that has led to some pretty dire consequences. Still, there’s something about the golden era of the mob that holds a lot of interest for many of us. Call it a twisted sense of curiosity, but we often find ourselves captivated by the power these crime families had and their leaders’ authority—as well as the damage and mayhem they caused. Hollywood, it turns out, has been all too keen to mirror the public’s fascination with gangsters.
There are thousands of movies out there that tell the story of various crime families, individuals, and mob capers, but they’re not all created equal. Stacker compiled data on all crime movies registered on IMDb and Metacritic, sorting through them to pick out the best gangster/mob movies and ranking them according to a weighted index split evenly between IMDb user rating and Metascore (data was collected on Dec. 20, 2020). To qualify, the film had to have significant plot points that involve gangsters, the mob, the Italian American Mafia, or other similar crime organizations.
From foreign films such as “Ash Is Purest White” to classics like “The Godfather” and box-office hits like “Baby Driver,” here are the 50 gangster movies considered to be the best of all time.
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