Top 10 Movie Portrayals of Real Life Gangsters

Top 10 Movie Portrayals of Real Life Gangsters


you think you’re a tough guy what are you going to strong-arm me we’ll see about that you know I think that you got the wrong impression about me I think in all fairness I should explain to you exactly what it is that I do welcome to watchmojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movie portrayals of real-life gangsters for this list we’ve chosen movie depictions of real-life criminals who were part of a gang which means those baddies who acted alone or as part of a twosome need not apply for instance tomorrow morning I’ll get up nice and early take a walk down over to the bank and walk in and see and if you don’t have my money for me I’ll crack your head wide open in front of everybody in the bank number 10 Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen gangster squad this is my destiny Los Angeles while the stylized film itself was only so-so Penn embodied the spirit of the ex-boxer turned gangster that wasn’t murder it’s practice I in progress as the main antagonist of the movie every time he’s on screen he’s a powder keg of emotion often erupting at the slightest provocation find these bastards he’s loud brash and unwilling to back down even as the cops are closing in on him pen strikes a perfect balance between cocky and calculating when portraying this Jewish mafia member and king of the Sunset Strip these guys are a special brand the hardcase is not interested in money cop is not for sales like a dog with rabies there’s no medicine for it you just got it put him down number 9 Robert De Niro as Al Capone The Untouchables some people say reform is here safe put that man in jail what does he think he is doing what I hope I’m doing in his when your English papers got a point is I’m responding to the will of the people rod steiger’s depiction in the 1959 biopic was a complex unglamorous portrayal of Capone but leave it to De Niro to blow anyone else out of the water I get nowhere unless the team wins standing out in a film like this isn’t a cakewalk with billy drago also giving a great performance as the real-life Frank Nitti but Nero is truly terrifying as this Prohibition era criminal mastermind I want that son of a bitch thing I wanted dead which I wanted that I’ll change what am I alone in this world did I ask you want your trial is over did I ask what you don’t believe using rough dialogue and a commanding nature to intimidate agent Eliot Ness but also standing tall as a high profile member of society [Music] [Applause] number eight Tim Roth as Dutch Schultz hoodlum Oh feel nothing there’s a toss up in this film between Roth’s performance and Laurence Fishburne’s portrayal of Ellsworth bumpy Johnson now you know I’m the bag but Roth edges them out even though Schultz is the associate of mob boss Lucky Luciano it’s hard to believe this guy is taking orders from anyone big boss no brains he’s wild on screen and there’s something about his character that’s slightly unhinged it seems the Dutch is the one calling all the shots as he orders hits and tries to double-cross his boss you’ll move Hoffa will be acquitted because Hoffa is innocent officious and unsubstantiated charges that face me here number seven Jack Nicholson as Jimmy Hoffa Hoffa even though the movie only met with fair reviews Nicholson perfectly embodies this larger-than-life Teamsters boss I heard that mostly told in flashbacks it tells the story of how Hoffa came to be such a powerful political figure and enemy to JFK among others Nicholson is quietly menacing and it’s easy to tell he’s not someone to be messed with someone to give you a piece of advice don’t ask for something but it’s a burden to you if you get it he brings his trademark poker face to the role making it impossible to guess what he’s thinking hey you know what they used to say any old days tell me now because I’m gonna find out about it anyway number six Al Pacino as Benjamin lefty Ruggiero Donnie Brasco well let me just say go ahead try and sell it you want to be a dumpy give it a shot don’t ski you call me donkey ruiji arrow would strictly be the bad guy in any other film but in this portrayal his character is much more complex you’re gonna walk out on me you walk out on me I walked out on you his friendship with undercover agent Donnie Brasco shows that he’s more than a killer he’s a low on the totem pole mafia man who’s been passed over for promotions and has a son at home who’s struggling with drug addiction Pacino’s Ruggiero is a man with everyday problems so it’s almost easy to understand why he does what he does disgusting yeah you just said it yeah just are you not number 5 Warren Beatty as Benjamin Bugsy Siegel Bugsy Benjamin is in the Bible and second I’ll see all of you at the opening of the Flamingo it’s Christmas Day okay when you’ve also portrayed the iconic Clyde Barrow playing the tough guy starts to come naturally I owe you my life then I’d say that’s a fair assessment god bless you Ben at least that’s the case with Beatty when he depicts mobster turned hotelier turned Vegas big shot Bugsy Siegel baby plays Bugsy as a man with vision others can’t see who decides to start a hotel casino in the desolate terrain of Las Vegas he’s a complicated man trying to keep the love of his woman while gambling on their future but that doesn’t make him soft but you know something that’s for summer and Jerry I don’t think you have to worry about summer number four Daniel day-lewis as bill the butcher cutting Gangs of New York Amsterdam I’m New York Dave Lewis is one of those actors that completely transforms himself on screen and he’s almost unrecognizable as the butcher on my challenge by the ancient laws of combat we have met at this chosen ground to settle for good know who holds sway over the five points his demeanor is completely changed and he comes across as a caged animal ready to attack at any moment and his best scenes are when he’s doing his worst apologies my dear pick it up though the character is not exactly a true to history portrayal of the real bill the butcher whose family name was Poole not cutting the roll still earned day-lewis the third Oscar nod of his career number three Robert De Niro as Sam ace Rothstein Casino this is not the way to treat people listen if you didn’t know you’d be a scam you too dumb to keep this job if you did know you were in on either way you’re out get out go on let’s go in his second spot on our list De Niro displays again that he and his Goodfellas co-star Joe Pesci have great chemistry as they portray business partners in the Las Vegas casino industry I just got to tell you it’s no joke guys it’s no joke you gotta you gotta keep a low profile it’s not like back home right off the bat they don’t like guys like this and the sheriff’s a real cowboy even the cop is aren’t afraid to bury people on the desert here as a gambling handicapper De Niro depicts Rothstein as someone calculating methodical and more conservative than his partner go on I want you to put an equal blueberries in each month an equal amount of blueberries in each muffin I don’t care how long it takes Sam doesn’t let anything slide past him though and his attention to detail needs him as the only one unscathed they had other ideas for me see you are what you are in this world number two Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas American Gangster he is somebody as Harlem heroin dealer turned kingpin Frank Lucas Washington gives one of the strongest performances of his career everybody he takes Lucas’s Scarface like tail and paints it as the classic American success story of working hard to achieve your dreams but in this case working hard means hiding heroin underneath the coffins of soldiers on their way back from Vietnam you think you’re going to take a hundred kilos of heroin into the US and you don’t work for anyone someone is good too about that that’s right the movie may have fictionalized some aspects of Lucas’s life but every bit of this performance is believable I took care home so how long’s gonna take care of me you can believe that before we let our number one pick out of the slammer here are a few honorable mentions these complications with Diego the stolen cars getting him released from the cops this causes me much inconvenience if 50 kilos could have been a big problem huh I don’t like problems you bullshitting me first thing my father ever taught me was you never bullshit a West Indian bullshit out his areas worse than you my mom she from Grenada you’re gonna tell me who robbed me [Music] because if you don’t if you don’t I’m gonna kill every person in that book starting with your mother your sister your girlfriend that niece of yours Gabrielle just $2,000 once my commission number one ray liotta as Henry Hill Goodfellas he’s the man who became an FBI informant and helped take down 50 of his mob pals and it’s Liotta’s depiction of Hill as an outsider that makes this performance so memorable Jimmy and I could never be made because we had Irish blood didn’t even matter that my mother was Sicilian to become a member of a crew you’ve got to be 100% Italian so they can trace all your relatives back to the old country you are sympathized with a man who grew up in mafia culture and proudly proclaims at the beginning of the film as far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster even the real life he’ll praise Liotta’s performance often appearing in the media in support of the film we don’t want to know what he would have done had he not liked it do you agree with our list which gangster seemed real to you I was raised on a farm in Mooresville Indiana my mama died when I was 3 my daddy beat the hell out of me because he didn’t know no better way to raise me a more tough guy top 10s published every day be sure to subscribe to watchmojo.com you’re warned don’t ever go over my head again you motherf ker you [Music]

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  1. when you click on a list just because youve got a good example that if not included you'll post a comment demanding its consideration

  2. You couldn't go wrong with this list. But Pesci (Goodfellas), Hardy (Lawless & Legend), Depp (Black Mass) cuold have also made the Top 10 list.

  3. Hoffa wasn't a gangster. He was a Union Organizer. He just made some poor choices trying to get the Teamsters off the ground. Almost an American Hero.

  4. Denzel in American Gangster…. Holy fucking shit…. Soooooooooooo good. So good. I place American Gangster in the same category as The Godfather. It's THAT GOOD

  5. De Niro is pathetic as Scarface. His performance did not age well at all!!! Scarface didn't talk like that!!!

  6. Shouldn't Michael Corleone be #1? I know it said "real life gangsters" but isn't Michael real in all our hearts?

  7. scar face was not real? omg i thought he was but he deserved at least one mention… who thinks like this?

  8. No Joe Pesci?!! Not even in the honorable mentions??? This list is total fkn trash! Fuck this list 🖕🏾📃

  9. Not being racist but only a black man could play that part as American gangster as if it was a white person it wouldn't have the same emotions brung to the table and it plays well with the slavery and overcoming of retribution aspects only thing in this case is the heroic character is everything associated with evil. Good and evil are very different but can't have one without the other , good is harder to follow and evil is easy to follow due to the morality, evil is built on hate ,decision, greed, distrust , disrespect,dishonesty, dishonour. Good is built on love, care , forgiveness, trust, honour,respect,kindness,sharing,humbleness,helping people, these are much harder than evil because by nature we destroy.

  10. While I just looooooooooove Ray Liota especially in Goodfellas, I am not quite sure if it was No. 1 worthy. Great list in any case.

  11. Your list sucks! Top 3 should have been from Good Fellas.. ..what about what's his name who played John Dellinger? It seems like most of these are from cheesy gangster movies..

  12. Joe Pesci in goodfellas or casino your pick, Tom Hardy as the kray brothers, and Depp as whitey bulger

  13. Christopher Walken did an amazing performance in "At Close Range" of a real life gangster Bruce Johnston Sr who was the head of a Pennsylvania crime family. Very powerful performance thats easily overlooked.

  14. This desperately needs an overhaul. I could list many examples like James Cagney and what about Pacino in Carlitos Way….cmon man

  15. Lol they all are just good actors they ain’t no real gangsters. The only real gangster was the greatest artist to ever step foot on American soil and overcome the strength of a powerful nation with his God given talent. And his talent was his god given intellect and the words he spoke. Some might call his words poetry others might call it rap. This young man conquered America at the age of 25 by using music as a tool to communicate and educate the minds of African Americans in order to unite them and set them free from the shackles of their mind and bring them out of oppression they were going through. I guess you already know who am talking about. This young man was a true gettow super star 2pac shukur. 2pac was a real life hero unlike those actors and movie stars. He transformed those gangsters on the streets the cops use to beat up and the American government use to look down upon in to stars and hero’s for the American people. They look up to those same gangsters they look down upon once upon a time. Those gangsters have dominated America and hip hop is the dominant culture in America. 2pac shukur was a real gettow gangsters who was born to be a hero and started of with nothing but his intellect. No acting but had an real life ambition.

  16. Al Pacino's destiny was to become a gangster, but he became an actor. And the result………………………..one of the greatest actors of all time or the greatest gangster??????????????

  17. for the most part, i usually agree with watchmojo lists like this. but you left off Ray Stevenson portraying Danny Greene in Kill the Irishman. He didn't even get an honorable mention. not cool watchmojo. not cool.

  18. …what is iconic about Clyde Barrow? He was a murdering sociopath piece of trash…He and his whore killed twelve people for the thrill…nothing iconic about him or her…they got exactly half of what the deserved…

  19. How in the royal goat fuck depp as Boston George didn't make #1 is beyond me. Guess maybe it's because he wasn't a gangster..idk

  20. How come Joe Pesci wasn't on this list for his acting in Goodfellas and Casino. Joe's performance in both movies was excellent and Watchmojo leaves him out of this list. Once again Watchmojo disappoints me again. Idiots!

  21. Little known fact… Daniel Day-Lewis actually threw a meat cleaver into the back of that guy and killed him.
    The director said he wanted it to be as authentic as possible.

  22. You missed training day, scarface new jack city,godfather 1&2,deep cover, king of new york,into deep come on!!

  23. Aint DeNiro a political activist now. I cnt watch his movies no more. Dnt like these angry, emotional activists who want it their way or no way

  24. I’d liked to see western real life tough guys. My #1 pick Tombstone with Val Kilmore as Doc Holiday and Kurt Russell as Wyatt. I’ll be ur huckleberry

  25. Uh Joe Pesci not only didn't get the number one slot as Tommy DeSimone but not even a fuckin honourable mention???? His oscar winning performance was praised by both Hill and Jimmy "The Gent' Burke who was against speaking out regarding the movie and of course the life until he found out Deniro was portraying him. The only inconsistency was that the real DeSimone was 6'2 instead of 5'2 lol

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