Top 20 Mob Movies of All Time

Explore the best mob movies of all time in this roundup of 20 iconic films. These movies take you into the world of the mafia, showcasing stories of power, loyalty, and betrayal. Featuring classics by directors like Coppola and Scorsese and extending to modern hits, each film offers a unique look into organized crime’s impact on cinema and culture.

From the streets of New York to Brazil’s favelas, get ready for a list that brings together the most memorable mob stories ever told. Whether you’re new to the genre or a seasoned fan, these movies are sure to impress with their compelling tales and unforgettable characters.

The Godfather (1972)

In this iconic saga, Francis Ford Coppola crafts a mesmerizing vision of power and loyalty through the Corleone family, led by patriarch Vito Corleone. A masterpiece of cinema, it explores the delicate balance between family bonds and the ruthless demands of the Mafia underworld, leaving viewers enthralled by its complex characters and moral dilemmas.

Interesting Facts:

  • Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Vito Corleone, the patriarch of the Corleone family, is widely celebrated. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role, which has become one of the most iconic performances in film history.
  • “The Godfather” was both a critical and commercial success upon its release. It was the highest-grossing film of 1972 and won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It is often cited as one of the greatest films in world cinema.
  • The film has had a profound impact on popular culture and has been highly influential in the film industry. Phrases like “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” have become part of the lexicon, and the film has inspired numerous other movies, books, and TV shows.

The Godfather: Part II (1974)

This sequel not only matches but, in many ways, surpasses its predecessor by delving deeper into the Corleone family’s origins and its expansion into Las Vegas and Cuba. With a narrative that weaves past and present, Coppola presents a Shakespearean tale of power, betrayal, and the cost of ambition.

Interesting Facts:

  • “The Godfather: Part II” is unique in that it serves both as a sequel and a prequel to “The Godfather,” simultaneously telling the story of a young Vito Corleone rising to power in New York City and his son Michael Corleone’s expansion and tightening grip on the family’s crime syndicate.
  • It was the first sequel ever to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. The film garnered six Oscars in total, including Best Director for Francis Ford Coppola and Best Supporting Actor for Robert De Niro, who played the young Vito Corleone.
  • Widely regarded as one of the best films of all time, “The Godfather: Part II” is praised for its ambitious storytelling and depth in character development. Its portrayal of the complexities of power and corruption has influenced not just cinema, but also literature and television, cementing its status as a landmark achievement in filmmaking.

Goodfellas (1990)

Scorsese’s masterful depiction of the life of mobster Henry Hill offers a gritty, unglamorous look at the realities of organized crime. From the allure of power to the ultimate price of disloyalty, “Goodfellas” stands as a towering achievement in storytelling, brought to life through remarkable performances and a captivating script.

Interesting Facts:

  • “Goodfellas” is adapted from the book “Wiseguy” by Nicholas Pileggi, which is the true story of Henry Hill, a former Lucchese crime family associate. The film’s attention to detail and authenticity in depicting the life of mobsters is largely due to the real-life accounts provided by Hill.
  • The film is renowned for its innovative use of cinematography, particularly the famous “Copacabana shot” – a long, unbroken tracking shot that follows Henry and Karen on a date through the back entrance of the Copacabana nightclub. This shot has become one of the most celebrated in film history for its complexity and smooth execution.
  • “Goodfellas” received widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Joe Pesci won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Tommy DeVito, a volatile and unpredictable gangster, solidifying the film’s place as a masterpiece of modern cinema.

Scarface (1983)

With a powerhouse performance by Al Pacino, “Scarface” tells the unforgettable story of Tony Montana’s ruthless rise in the Miami drug cartel. This intense and violent narrative captures the excesses of the cocaine boom of the 1980s, leaving a lasting impression with its bold portrayal of ambition and downfall.

Interesting Facts:

  • “Scarface” is a remake of a 1932 film of the same name, updating the setting from Chicago during Prohibition to 1980s Miami and focusing on Cuban refugee Tony Montana’s rise in the cocaine trade.
  • The film’s excessive violence and strong language received criticism at the time of release, yet it has since become iconic, particularly Al Pacino’s performance and the line “Say hello to my little friend.”
  • The luxurious mansion of Tony Montana is actually located in California, not Miami, due to concerns about the film’s controversial depiction of Cubans leading to protests during filming in Miami.

The Departed (2006)

This tense, action-packed thriller showcases the cat-and-mouse game between the Massachusetts State Police and the Irish Mob, with both sides infiltrated by moles. Scorsese’s direction and the stellar ensemble cast deliver a complex, edge-of-your-seat experience rich with moral ambiguity and suspense.

Interesting Facts:

  • “The Departed” is an American remake of the Hong Kong film “Infernal Affairs” (2002) and won Martin Scorsese his first Academy Award for Best Director.
  • The film features a star-studded cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg, the latter of whom received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
  • Actual undercover work within the Massachusetts State Police inspired the film’s intricate plot about moles within the police department and the Irish Mob.

Noir 1950s style detective vintage desktop with revolver, fedora hat and telephone

Casino (1995)

Scorsese takes viewers into the glittering heart of Las Vegas, where the mob’s grip on the casino industry is both lucrative and deadly. Through the eyes of Sam “Ace” Rothstein, “Casino” unravels the high stakes of power, greed, and love in a city where fortunes can be made or lost with the roll of a dice.

Interesting Facts:

  • “Casino” is based on real people and events; Robert De Niro’s character, Sam “Ace” Rothstein, was inspired by Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, who ran multiple casinos in Las Vegas for the mob in the 1970s and ’80s.
  • The film is known for its detailed depiction of the operation of Las Vegas casinos in the 1970s and ’80s, as well as its brutal portrayal of mob involvement in the casino industry.
  • Sharon Stone’s performance as Ginger earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, heralded as one of her career’s defining roles.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Sergio Leone’s sprawling epic chronicles the lives of Jewish immigrants in New York, weaving a complex tapestry of friendship, betrayal, and ambition. Spanning several decades, it is a poignant exploration of the American Dream turned sour, presented with Leone’s signature stylistic flair.

Interesting Facts:

  • This epic crime drama by Sergio Leone took over a decade to complete and is one of the longest commercially released films ever made, with the director’s cut running over four hours.
  • The film’s nonlinear narrative, spanning several decades, was groundbreaking at its release and required meticulous editing and production design to accurately portray the passage of time.
  • Despite its initial mixed reviews, particularly in the United States due to a heavily edited version, it has since been restored and is now considered a masterpiece of the crime genre.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Tarantino revolutionizes narrative structure with this kaleidoscopic view of Los Angeles’s criminal underworld. “Pulp Fiction” intertwines the lives of its characters in unexpected and violent ways, marked by sharp dialogue, memorable scenes, and a soundtrack that captures the essence of the ’90s.

Interesting Facts:

  • Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” revitalized John Travolta’s career, thanks to his iconic role as Vincent Vega, and introduced a new style of interconnected storytelling that influenced a generation of filmmakers.
  • The film is famous for its eclectic dialogue, nonlinear storyline, and the use of irony and humor in a crime film context.
  • “Pulp Fiction” won the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and received seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, winning Best Original Screenplay for Tarantino and Roger Avary.

The Untouchables (1987)

Set against the backdrop of Prohibition-era Chicago, this gripping tale follows Eliot Ness’s quest to bring down Al Capone. With a blend of historical drama and action, De Palma delivers a film that is both a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase and a study of justice in the face of corruption.

Interesting Facts:

  • “The Untouchables” portrays the battle between Eliot Ness’s team of Prohibition agents and Al Capone in Chicago. The film’s climactic staircase scene is a homage to the “Odessa Steps” sequence from the 1925 silent film “Battleship Potemkin.”
  • Sean Connery won his only Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Jim Malone, a seasoned Irish-American cop.
  • Despite its historical backdrop, the film takes considerable artistic license with the facts surrounding Capone’s conviction and Ness’s role in it.

American Gangster (2007)

Ridley Scott tells the true story of Frank Lucas, a Harlem drug lord who rose to prominence by smuggling heroin into the United States. Denzel Washington’s portrayal of Lucas offers a complex look at a man who was both a ruthless criminal and a Robin Hood figure to his community.

Interesting Facts:

  • Denzel Washington’s portrayal of Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas marks one of his most compelling roles, highlighting Lucas’s innovative method of smuggling heroin into the United States during the Vietnam War.
  • The film is based on a true story and was developed from a New York magazine article titled “The Return of Superfly,” which chronicled Lucas’s life and crimes.
  • Russell Crowe plays Richie Roberts, the detective whose pursuit of Lucas is characterized by a complex respect between the lawman and the criminal, adding depth to the narrative.

Noir style detective or gangster male in suit and hat silhouette standing on neon street night

Donnie Brasco (1997)

This film offers a captivating look at the dangerous life of an undercover FBI agent infiltrating the Mafia. Based on true events, it explores themes of identity, loyalty, and the blurred lines between right and wrong, anchored by stellar performances from Johnny Depp and Al Pacino.

Interesting Facts:

  • “Donnie Brasco” tells the true story of FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone’s undercover operation infiltrating the Mafia, which led to over 100 Mafia convictions.
  • Johnny Depp and Al Pacino’s performances as Donnie Brasco/Joe Pistone and Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero, respectively, showcase a deep, mentor-protégé relationship that adds emotional weight to the crime narrative.
  • The film highlights the psychological and personal toll of undercover work, a theme less commonly explored in mob movies.

Eastern Promises (2007)

Cronenberg delves into the dark heart of London’s Russian Mafia, weaving a tale of violence, redemption, and secrets. Viggo Mortensen’s performance as a driver with a mysterious past stands out in this gripping thriller that explores the costs of loyalty and the search for truth.

Interesting Facts:

  • “Eastern Promises” is notable for its realistic depiction of the Russian Mafia in London, featuring Viggo Mortensen in a critically acclaimed role that required extensive research and physical transformation.
  • The film’s intense bathhouse fight scene is praised for its brutality and realism, showcasing Mortensen’s dedication to the role.
  • Director David Cronenberg and Mortensen’s collaboration on this project was their second, following the success of “A History of Violence,” cementing their reputation as a formidable actor-director duo.

A Bronx Tale (1993)

This poignant coming-of-age story, directed by and starring Robert De Niro, captures the struggles of a young boy torn between his honest, hardworking father and a local mob boss. Set in the Bronx, it is a moving exploration of father-son relationships, community, and the choices that define us.

Interesting Facts:

  • “A Bronx Tale” marks Robert De Niro’s directorial debut and is based on Chazz Palminteri’s play, who also stars in the film. The story is a semi-autobiographical account of Palminteri’s childhood and involvement with the local mob.
  • The film explores themes of racial tension, father-son relationships, and the allure of the mob lifestyle in the 1960s Bronx.
  • De Niro’s direction was praised for its sensitivity and depth, offering a nuanced look at life in the Bronx and the choices that shape a young man’s life.

Road to Perdition (2002)

In the shadow of the Great Depression, a hitman and his son embark on a journey of revenge and redemption. This visually stunning film combines the themes of vengeance and familial bonds, showcasing Tom Hanks in a compelling performance against a backdrop of stunning cinematography.

Interesting Facts:

  • Set during the Great Depression, “Road to Perdition” is a visually stunning film that explores themes of revenge and familial bonds. It’s based on a graphic novel of the same name.
  • Tom Hanks’s role as a hitman seeking vengeance while protecting his son showcases a departure from his usual roles, offering a deeper, more introspective performance.
  • The film features the final on-screen performance of Paul Newman, who received an Academy Award nomination for his role, adding a layer of poignancy to the film.

The Irishman (2019)

Scorsese’s late-career masterpiece chronicles the life of Frank Sheeran, a mob hitman, and his possible involvement in Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance. A film about aging, friendship, and the passage of time, “The Irishman” reunites De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci for an epic saga of organized crime’s history in America.

Interesting Facts:

  • “The Irishman” is a late-career masterpiece by Martin Scorsese that reunites him with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, offering a sprawling narrative that spans decades through the use of innovative de-aging technology.
  • The film is based on the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt, focusing on the life of Frank Sheeran and his possible involvement in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.
  • At 3 hours and 29 minutes, it’s Scorsese’s longest film and was released on Netflix, reflecting changing trends in how audiences consume epic storytelling.

Man posing in the dark with a fedora hat and a trench coat, 1950s noir film style character

Gomorrah (2008)

This harrowing look at the Camorra crime syndicate in Naples presents a stark, unfiltered view of the impact of organized crime on Italian society. Based on the investigative book by Roberto Saviano, “Gomorrah” exposes the violence and complexity of Naples’s underworld.

Interesting Facts:

  • “Gomorrah” offers a gritty, unglamorous look at the Camorra crime syndicate in Naples, diverging from the typical Hollywood portrayal of organized crime to highlight its impact on society.
  • The film is based on Roberto Saviano’s investigative book, which led to the author living under police protection due to death threats from the Mafia.
  • Its raw, documentary-style filmmaking offers a stark depiction of the lives entangled in organized crime, making it a critical success and a powerful social commentary.

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

The Coen Brothers offer their unique take on the gangster genre with this stylish, witty tale of loyalty, power, and betrayal during Prohibition. With its rapid-fire dialogue, memorable characters, and intricate plot, “Miller’s Crossing” stands as a testament to the Coens’ storytelling prowess.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Coen Brothers’ “Miller’s Crossing” is known for its stylish homage to the classic gangster films of the 1930s and ’40s, featuring a complex plot of loyalty and betrayal.
  • The film’s dialogue, filled with period slang and wit, along with its intricate plot and character relationships, showcases the Coen Brothers’ unique storytelling and cinematic style.
  • “Miller’s Crossing” features a memorable hat motif, symbolizing the film’s themes of fate, loyalty, and the characters’ moral choices.

Carlito’s Way (1993)

Pacino shines as Carlito Brigante, a former criminal striving for redemption and a new life away from his past. This gripping narrative captures the challenges of escaping one’s destiny in a world where every corner turned can lead back to violence and betrayal.

Interesting Facts:

  • “Carlito’s Way” provides a poignant look at the struggle for redemption within the context of the criminal underworld, with Al Pacino delivering a powerful performance as Carlito Brigante.
  • The film, directed by Brian De Palma, reunites him with Pacino following their successful collaboration on “Scarface.”
  • Its depiction of 1970s New York and the challenges of escaping one’s past are brought to life through dynamic cinematography and a compelling narrative.

Public Enemies (2009)

Johnny Depp stars as the charismatic bank robber John Dillinger in a film that captures the excitement and danger of the gangster era during the Great Depression. “Public Enemies” explores the complex figure of Dillinger, a folk hero to some and a menace to others, against the backdrop of an evolving America.

Interesting Facts:

  • Director Michael Mann went to great lengths to ensure the authenticity of the film, using real locations where events happened, such as the Little Bohemia Lodge in Wisconsin for the famous shootout scene, and extensively researching the era to accurately depict the life of John Dillinger.
  • Despite being set in the 1930s, “Public Enemies” was shot in HD digital video, which was a controversial choice at the time. Mann chose this method to give the film a more immediate, realistic feel, contrasting sharply with the period setting.
  • For his role as John Dillinger, Johnny Depp met with relatives of the infamous bank robber and extensively studied his mannerisms, voice, and behaviors to accurately portray him on screen, adding depth and authenticity to his performance.

City of God (2002)

This explosive film portrays the cycle of violence and revenge in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, telling the story of two boys whose paths diverge in a community ruled by gangs. With its raw energy and stunning visuals, “City of God” delivers a powerful commentary on poverty, ambition, and the choices that shape our lives.

Interesting Facts:

  • Many of the film’s actors were non-professionals from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, including some from the actual City of God. Their authentic performances contribute to the film’s raw and realistic portrayal of life in the slums.
  • The film is adapted from a novel that is loosely based on real events, telling the story of the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro. The characters are based on real people, and some events in the film happened in real life.
  • “City of God” received widespread critical acclaim for its direction, editing, and storytelling, earning four Academy Award nominations. It has been praised for bringing international attention to the issues of poverty and violence in Brazilian favelas, influencing both cinema and society in Brazil and beyond.


It’s clear that the appeal of organized crime stories in cinema is timeless. These films, ranging from classic epics to modern masterpieces, not only entertain but also offer profound insights into the human condition, ethics, and the complexities of loyalty and power. As we’ve seen, the genre’s best works captivate audiences worldwide, leaving a lasting impact on both cinema and society. Whether you’re revisiting these iconic movies or discovering them for the first time, each offers a unique window into the enthralling world of mob life, making them must-watches for any film enthusiast.