An identity parade of the biggest crime movies to hit the big screen since Cagney made it to the top of the world…
White Heat (1949)
“Made it, ma. Top of the world!” James Cagney spent his entire career playing gangsters, but few were quite as unhinged as Cody Jarrett, the psychotic, mother-fixated hoodlum whose dramatic rise and explosive fall is memorably charted in this seminal thriller from prolific all-rounder Raoul Walsh.
The Killing (1956)
“Johnny, you’ve got to run!” “Ah, what’s the difference.” Sterling Hayden leads a gang of ruthless criminals whose plan to rob a racetrack goes spectacularly pear-shaped in Stanley Kubrick’s grim and gritty noir. Pulp fiction legend Jim Thompson brings an extra whiff of authenticity to the hard-boiled dialogue.
Bonnie And Clyde (1967)
“They’re young! They’re in love! And they kill people!” Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway make a couple to die for in Arthur Penn’s landmark biopic of real-life Thirties anti-heroes Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Hugely influential for both its stylish retro fashion and its graphic, blood-splattered violence.
Get Carter (1971)
“You’re a big man but you’re in bad shape. With me it’s a full-time job. Now behave yourself!” Michael Caine is superb as the London hood who travels up north to find his brother’s killer in this tough, uncompromising Britflick. The dour Newcastle locations are a perfect complement to Carter’s relentless vendetta.
The Getaway (1972)
Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw make a run for the border with cops, crooks and former associates hard on their trail in Sam Peckinpah’s pulse-pounding thriller. The iconic scene where an impassive McQueen blows a police car to pieces with a shotgun is one of the director’s most memorable set-pieces.
The Godfather (1972)
“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Marlon Brando and Al Pacino keep crime in the family in Francis Ford Coppolla’s unforgettable portrait of one mafia clan’s battle for power in post-war America. As good as it gets really – though some feel The Godfather Part II is even better.
The Long Good Friday (1980)
“Who’s having a pop at me?” Bob Hoskins scorches the screen in Britain’s other great crime thriller, playing an East End kingpin whose ambitious plans for London’s Docklands are ripped to shreds over the course of one fateful Easter weekend. Look out for a young Pierce Brosnan as an IRA killer.
“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” Ray Liotta is the wannabe wiseguy who steers us through Martin Scorsese’s masterful portrait of the seedy underbelly of organised crime. However, it’s Joe Pesci’s Oscar-winning turn as a trigger-happy nutjob you’ll remember.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
“Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?” Quentin Tarantino made a seismic impact with his debut film, an ingenious, stylish and almost unbearably tense look at a bungled heist and its brutal aftermath. Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen would go on to become QT regulars.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
So who exactly is Keyser Soze? You may be none the wiser after watching Bryan Singer’s fiendishly complex tale of six rogues who find themselves in the thrall of a terrifying criminal mastermind. Kevin Spacey won an Oscar for his performance, as did Christopher McQuarrie for his brilliantly devious script.