12. Mean Streets (1973)
Scorsese’s paean to the Little Italy of his youth (“I knew all those guys and many of them are still very close friends”) lacks the polish of his later works but makes up for it with a raw passion and energy embodied in Robert De Niro’s reckless Johnny Boy.
The director’s alter ego, though, is Harvey Keitel’s Charlie, the tortured Catholic torn between spirituality and crime. “I saw myself in Harvey,”
reveals This Is England helmer and Scorsese fan Shane Meadows.
“He was part of a circle, but you could see he was looking for a way out.”
Killer Scene: “I’m a mook? What’s a mook?”
11. Point Blank (1967)
There is no cash – that’s the secret of Point Blank. John Boorman’s stylish, stylized gangster thriller pits Lee Marvin’s ghost-like revenger
Walker against the shadowy “organisation” that left him for dead on Alcatraz.
He wants his $93,000, but in ultra-modern LA the Mob only deals in cheques or plastic.
Boorman exploited the “complete loss of nerve by the American studios” to wrestle total creative control for himself – the resulting movie is a bad trip, with déjà vu flashbacks and jump cuts channelling European style. The first acid-noir gangster flick.
Killer Scene: The trippy nightclub scene, with strobe lights punctuating Walker’s violence.
10. Pulp Fiction (1994)
“Gangster films are sort of parodies of the American Dream,” explains Quentin Tarantino. “They’re a skewed, bizarro world of getting rich in business in America.There always has to be some sort of satire on the American lifestyle.”
So is that why Jules and Vincent go about their business like ordinary schmoes, shooting the shit about burgers and foot massages on their
way to make a killing?
It’s the hitmen’s very ordinariness that makes them extraordinary though, in a sophomore effort that was both a polished crime anthology and an international phenomenon.
Killer Scene: “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger…”