This week we have another article by our guest writer Dan McNeil, this time it is his take on gangster flicks.
If you like gangster flicks with lots of gritty atmosphere, check out a superb Netflix program call Peaky Blinders.
Ya gotta love gangster flicks. They were especially huge back in the 1930’s when Al Capone and the boys were shooting up Chicago. Actors like Jimmy Cagney made a living off of them.
Then WWII came along, followed by westerns and sappy musicals. The big comeback for gangster movies was in 1972—Francis Ford Coppola’s production of The Godfather.
Both The Godfather and its sequel, Godfather II, were beautifully made and wildly successful.
Problem was, Coppola was way too subtle. The expensive suits and high-dollar houses gentrified murderers and psychopaths, muting the acts of some of the most despicable characters on the planet.
Naaah—if you want real gangsters in your movies, it’s all about Martin Scorcese.
In Goodfellas, Casino, and The Departed, Scorcese gives us real gangsters doing real gangster violence— the kind of violence that makes you avert your eyes.
Let’s reminisce. Try not to get all misty.
Among others, there’s the eyeball popping out in the squeezed-head-in-the-vise scene, there’s the stomped-in-the-head-till dead scene, there’s the shot-at-close-range-in-the-head car scene, there’s the strangulation-of-the-hairpiece guy scene…
Granted, gangster flicks get a little timeworn because they’re always about the same thing—turf.
And the Brando-DeNiro-Gandolfini head cheese always swears he’ll stop murdering all your friends if you’ll just show him a little—all together now—
Oh shut up.
Peaky Blinders has all those fun cliches but throws in a rich bunch of characters you won’t see any place but prohibition era England, such as…
Irish Republican Army Killers
Most people don’t know the Irish fought each other in a civil war in the early 1920’s and these guys were almost wiped out. This was a nasty bunch.
A Jewish Gangster
Say what? Other than Meyer Lansky, Jewish gangsters get short shrift in the movies. Tom Hardy does a turn here, and for some reason, his character hates White Russians. Hmmm.
This was the exiled Russian nobility. Its members escaped Russia during the communist revolution and were looking to return the Czar to the throne by armed rebellion.
And yes, during their time in Russia, some of these people were known to hunt Jews down like animals. Hmmm.
Lots of Innocent Bystanders
Hey, it’s a gangster tale. Ya gotta have a body count.
So as a long, long, long-time fan of the gangster genre, I feel imminently qualified to rate this program as highly outstanding—four-and-a-half corpses out of a possible five***.
Cartridge World on Campbell