1. Archive


This is the season of the thug in movie houses across the nation. Gangster films have always been popular, but a whole new crop has come out this summer and fall, including the very excellent GoodFellas from Martin Scorsese; the appealing The Freshman, starring Marlon Brando; the bloody State of Grace, which looks at the Irish mob; and Miller's Crossing, a derivative period piece from the Coen brothers.

And Corleone fans around the world eagerly await the Christmas release of The Godfather, Part III.

If the gangster bug bites real hard this fall, there are plenty of remedies at your local video store. Here is a list of some of what's available for the home market:

Across 110th Street (1972): Gang warfare between white and black versions of the Mafia, starring Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto.

Al Capone (1959): Rod Steiger's penetrating portrait of the Chicago gangster. In black and white with a narrative.

Angels With Dirty Faces (1938): When they're bad, they're very bad with James Cagney leading the pack. And when they're good, they're Pat O'Brien as a priest.

The Big Combo (1955): A film noir flick starring Cornel Wilde as a violent cop in pursuit of gangsters.

Black Caesar (1973): Blaxploitation gangster yarn with Fred Williamson.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967): An excellent blend of mayhem, blood, sex, comedy and sociology, and the film that made Faye Dunaway a star.

Boys of the City (1940): The Bowery Boys solve a gangland murder.

Charley Varrick (1973): Walter Matthau as "the last of the independents" against the big boys.

Corleone (1985): Childhood pals in Sicily take divergent paths. No relation to The Godfather.

Dillinger (1945): The life and times of John Dillinger with Lawrence Tierney in the title role.

Dillinger (1973): Warren Oates in the title role, and R-rated.

The Don Is Dead (1973): The ups and downs of a Mafia family in Las Vegas, starring Anthony Quinn and Frederic Forrest.

The Godfather (1972): It's hard not to like Don Corleone and friends. The award-winner that's worth watching dozens of times.

The Godfather, Part II (1974): Part II is just as good as the original.

The Godfather Epic (1977): A compilation of the two movies with extra footage. A gem.

Johnny Angel (1945): George Raft seeks daddy's killer and tries to snuff out the mob.

Lady in Red (1979): The gangster's moll tells her side of things in this tale of John Dillinger.

Lucky Luciano (1974): You have to know Italian or "dubspeak" to get through this joint U.S.-Franco-Italian romp. Features Gian Marla Volonte and Rod Steiger.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984): A gangster epic from Sergio Leone with Robert De Niro, James Woods and Elizabeth McGovern. Get the long version _ 225 minutes _ and have a video feast. The short version for Americans with short attention spans is okay.

Public Enemy (1931): A snarling Cagney, with Jean Harlow and Mae Clarke and grapefruit.

Racketeer (1930): An early talkie starring Carole Lombard and Robert Armstrong.

The Roaring Twenties (1939): A classic made in that great year (1939) of great Hollywood movies. Stars Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney and Priscilla Lane.

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967): Typical Roger Corman _ long on violence and schlock.

Scarface (1932): Dubbed "the shame of the nation" when it first came out. Paul Muni's portrayal of Al Capone, directed by Howard Hawks. Watch for Boris Karloff.

Some Like It Hot (1959): Billy Wilder's brilliant comedy about a pair of musicians who witness the St. Valentine's Day massacre and hot-foot it out of Chicago in drag to escape the mob. Great performances all around by Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe.

This Gun for Hire (1942): Bad guy Alan Ladd turns good guy.

The Untouchables (1987): More unevenness from Brian De Palma, but by far his best effort. Worth seeing for Al Capone cameo by Robert De Niro, Andy Garcia's perfect aim and an award-winning performance by Sean Connery.

The Untouchables: Scarface Mob (1962): The two-part pilot for the hit Robert Stack TV show in 1959, later released for theaters. First-rate action and iron-fisted Eliot Ness portrayal by Stack.

Verne Miller (1988): Al Capone's Kansas City massacre. Well done on a very low budget and fairly accurate historically.