To complement the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of Ruben Fleischer’s all-star period crime-thriller, GANGSTER SQUAD, THN have picked our own top team of organised crime figures from the world of cinema; both fictional and factual. The genre is well defined thanks to early Cagney classics, Coppola’s legendary Corleone trilogy and Scorcese’s blood-soaked biopics. We’ve assembled quite an eclectic collection of memorable members, from low-level hoods, to fierce footsoldiers, unpredictable capo’s and of course, one don to rule them all!
One quick rule before we begin: a film or actor can feature no more than twice.
So, let’s take a look and see who sleeps with the fishes and who’s king of the hill in our dream team!
Make him an offer he can’t refuse and this hulking, simple-minded, yet faithful hatchet man will follow orders, even if it costs him his life. The late Lenny Montana portrayed the brutish, child-like foot soldier, who left a likeable impression in Francis Ford Coppola’s original groundbreaking crime saga, which set the bar sky high for the future of the sub-genre. However, he’s perhaps not one to send out on an important whacking.
Well, whaddya know, whaddya say, Rocky was brought to life by the ever-quotable James Cagney in Michael Curtiz’ grubby black and white classic. He possesses a huge amount of charisma – and arrogance – despite his recent prison release, leading to his being admired by the wayward neighbourhood teens. He keeps his mouth shut about his employers too, which sees him held in high esteem. Shame about that short temper.
In his ruthless years before his release from chokey, Al Pacino’s Puerto-Rican hoodlum could have come in handy as a feared enforcer. Sadly, those years behind bars have given him time to reflect on a risky lifestyle. However, he’s always happy to help out a pal, which can be just be as perilous.
A devoted hard worker and – at times, slightly detached – family man. They don’t come much more committed than Tom Hanks’ sullen trigger man from Sam Mendes’ beautifully haunting period pic. Failing to put your trust in him could cost you financially… and with your life. Ask John Rooney and his henchmen; well, if they were still breathing.
Always a man wanting to make a statement by any means in the criminal underworld, Montana’s a maverick who’s willing to take out anyone if it means he progresses up the ladder. His lust for power is only matched by his incestuous obsession with sister Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, as well as his feelings for his boss’ moll, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, and cocaine. Be wary. Don’t be around to say hello to his little friend.
Tommy is a funny one. Funny how I hear you say? Well, not like a clown that’s for sure. He has a (psychotic) tendency to stick it to anyone, even when they’re half dead in the boot of a car or just busting his balls. He’s a resourceful chap who’ll get his hands dirty in bank robberies, or the more extreme acts of violence. Just don’t tell him to “go fuck yourself” or mention ‘that’ shine box. The role saw Pesci receive an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Funny that.
Don the Jeweller is a mystery who seems to know the real deal from a fugasi. However, can he really be trusted? He’s a quiet young man who does as he is told and appears genuinely dedicated to his buddies, but he does secretly slip away from time to time. He also has a problem taking his boots off in Japanese restaurants. Maybe it’s athletes foot or an ingrowing toenail? “Forget about it!”
A pioneer in the real world of organised crime, ‘Bugsy’ Siegel’s trailblazing vision of a hotel and gambling casino in the middle of the Nevada desert ultimately became his downfall, after it almost bankrupted his West Coast mafia cohorts, Meyer Lansky and Mickey Cohen. He paid with his life but his project eventually caught on, if they’d only had patience as “Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet“.
We recently featured the chilling Concotti in our recent Christopher Walken piece, but he leaves too unsettling an impression to leave him out of this bunch. The right hand man to bigwig Blue Lou Boyle is happy enough to sit and talk things through if you provide him with the right information and “please… make your answers genuine“. Then again, lie, or insult his Sicilian ancestry, then prepare to lose a finger or two before taking a bullet to the head.
We began with a character from Coppola’s legendary epic, so it’s only right we end with the figure the genre owes a great debt to. Brando’s brooding Don may have been close to retirement after restoring order between the warring families, but he’d do what he had to if things got out of hand again. Having his family close by helps for the odd bit of advice, but as we followed his early path in the 1974 sequel with DeNiro in the role, we found out just what he was capable of, as he rose to dominance in a cold-blooded world. By the way, if you’re going to challenge his authority, it’ll help if you don’t own a horse.
Who would you have in your all-star criminal empire? Let us know in the comments section below.
GANGSTER SQUAD is released on DVD and Blu-ray in the US on Tuesday 23rd April, and in the UK on 27th May.