whats your favorite movie?

יום רביעי, 3 באוקטובר 2012


The Mafia are a network of individuals or a group of associates in the world of organized crime. Mafia movies deal with organized crime and it’s seen that these movies often highlight the life of a crime figure. Gangster films or mob films, as they are called, garnered a lot of interest during the 1930’s and 1940’s when the streets of New York and Chicago witnessed the growth of crime and bootlegging of alcohol, with gangsters, bank robbers, hooligans and thugs large on the street. Real life criminals such as Al Capone, Machine Gun Jelly, Baby Face Nelson were subjects of these mafia movies and helped in popularizing the gangster film genre. These money hungry profligates were widely identifiable by the general public.

The storyline of these mafia movies is essentially about gang wars wherein gangsters seek power, wealth and respect of the society. These films depict violence as seen in the underworld by highlighting the rise and downfall of violent, psychopathic criminals. It’s seen that the gangsters of this particular genre of movies are immoral, womanizing and self-destructive. Based on the life of Al Capone, “Scarface (1932)” is one of the greatest gangster movies that starred Paul Muni as a grossly immoral, vicious profligate whose ambitious and violent nature ultimately leads him to destruction. However, the audiences loved the depiction of bloodshed, lawlessness, violence and betrayal shown on-screen.  

The earliest mob films can be traced back to D.W. Griffith’s silent film, “The Musketeers of Pig Alley” that introduced the genre of mafia movies. “Little Caesar”, a classic, is the story of a young man from a small town whose ambition to make it big in the world of gangsters gets him killed after having achieved some remarkable highs, and was one of the first movies to deal with the criminal underworld. This particular movie paved the way for other great gangster movies such as Scarface, Public Money and The Finger Points.

It’s seen that Hollywood was largely associated with the mob directly in 1930s when money laundering and extortions were common. The mafia saw a huge potential for financial growth in the film industry and decided to move into the film industry. Since the 1930s, the mafia has browbeaten actors, producers and directors for financial gains and power in the society.  

The Mafia exists in different parts of the world and there are many organizations similar to the Mafia that exist such as Irish Mob, Chinese Triads, Japanese Yakuza. Out of these, the Irish Mob, one of the oldest organized crime gangs in the U.S, is widely recognized as the most influential part of the mafia movies genre. Irish mob gangs such as ‘The Westies’ and ‘The Winter Hill Gang’ were dreaded on the streets of the U.S. These gangs were active during Prohibition by organizing gambling, prostitution rackets, narcotics trafficking and smuggling in cities such as Chicago and Boston. “Gangs of New York, starring Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best Irish mob gang movies of all time that depicts the birth of Manhattan and the bloodshed, carnage filled gang wars was rather, well received by audiences. 

Prohibition in the United States was the period in which there was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol that began in 1920 and ended in 1933. Though the intention was to eliminate bootlegging and businesses that manufactured and sold alcohol, it paved a way for organized bootlegging by Mafia groups. Thus, this period actually saw the organized crime flourish in the States. The Mafia movies that were made during the Prohibition era such as “The Public Enemy” and “The Roaring Twenties”, garnered a lot of interest in the 1930’s. The Public Enemy, starring James Cagney and directed by William A. Wellman is the story of a young Irish man’s rise in the criminal underworld set in the Prohibition era. The depiction of the violence and bloodshed caused by the hoodlums of the underworld was accurate and the critics were astounded by lifelike portrayal of these young hoodlums by Woods and Cagney.

The Godfather, one of the greatest mafia movies of all time has seen remarkable critical and commercial success in Hollywood and was able to make a strong impact on the public. Elements of this movie can be seen in almost all organized crime movies of today and its influence on motion pictures can be clearly seen. The Godfather, Francis Ford Capolla’s masterpiece is all about family, loyalty, greed and relationships that is hardly ever shown in other mafia movies.

In conclusion, Hollywood mafia movies have been highly successful because of their mass appeal and the critical role that they play in American culture. 

Here is a clip of one of the famous mafia movies ever :