QUICK CUTS: FAVORITE MOVIE GANGSTERS
Featuring: Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Nick Cato, Garrett Cook, Jenny Orosel, and Colleen Wanglund
MICHAEL ARRUDA: Welcome everyone to another edition of QUICK CUTS.
Last Friday, January 11, the slick looking gangster movie GANGSTER SQUAD opened in theaters, starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and Sean Penn. So, for today ‘s QUICK CUTS column, we asked our panel of Cinema Knife Fighters the all-important question: Who’s your favorite movie gangster?
GARRETT COOK: My favorite is one of the first and the best: Edward G. Robinson as Rico in LITTLE CAESAR (1931), an angry but vulnerable man constantly overcompensating. He’s both ruthless and heartbreaking.
L.L. SOARES: Good one, Garrett. I like LITTLE CAESAR a lot, too. A really underrated movie.
My two favorite movie gangsters were both played by James Cagney.
The first is Tom Powers from THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931). Whether he’s pushing grapefruit halves in dame’s faces or starting a gang war, he’s still the gold standard everyone else should be compared to. And the movie still has one of the most haunting endings ever. Boy, they sure knew how to create spooky images back in the 1930s.
The other one is Cody Jarrett, the mother-obsessed psychopath gangster from 1949’s WHITE HEAT. “Made it, Ma. Top of the world!” Everyone remember that one. My choices showcase Cagney’s earliest gangster with a later one.
JENNY OROSEL: I’ve never been a big gangster movie fan, but the one I do remember liking was BUGSY MALONE (1976). Sure, looking back, it was pretty horrible. But it had the most epic pie fight ever committed to film!
NICK CATO: My fave gangster is Paulie in GOODFELLAS (1990), played by Paul Sorvino. As the head of his clan, he got to sit back, fry sausages, slice garlic, and sip the best wine while his men did all the dirty work. And no one made a better ” sangwich” than him. He was THE MAN.
L.L. SOARES: I’m a big fan of GOODFELLAS, too. One of the best gangster movies ever. But I prefer Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci (as Jenry Hill and Tommy DeVito, respectively). I’ve never been a big Paul Sorvino fan for some reason. DeNiro is really good in this one, too.
COLLEEN WANGLUND: Okay here’s my answer:
So I figure the first names that would come to mind are from American gangster films. Well since I am the Geisha, my favorite gangsters all come from Asian films.
1. Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano) from ICHI THE KILLER (2001) directed by Takashi Miike. Kakihara is seriously one of the sickest gangsters I’ve ever seen on film.
2. Matsunaga (Toshiro Mifune) from the film DRUNKEN ANGEL (1948) directed by Akira Kurosawa. He is somewhat sympathetic character but a hardened gangster just the same.
3. Lau Kin-ming (Andy Lau) from INFERNAL AFFAIRS (2002) directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak. Lau’s character manages to infiltrate the police department in Hong Kong for YEARS without ever getting caught. That’s pretty awesome.
L.L. SOARES: Excellent choices! I forgot how great a long of Japanese and Hong Kong gangstgers are. I would also add Takeshi Kitano (also known as Beat Takeshi), who has played several Japanese gangsters over the years, in films he directed and films by others. My favorite gangster/Yakuza role of his was probably in his 1993 film, SONATINE.
MICHAEL ARRUDA: Wow, you’re really into the topic this time around!
L.L. SOARES: I sure am. I love classic gangster movies. They haven’t made a good one in awhile.
MICHAEL ARRUDA: Well, my favorite movie gangster would be Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in THE GODFATHER movies, specifically Parts 1 & 2. Sure, his most famous scene is the “Fredo, you broke my heart” scene, but my favorite comes in Part 1, where he’s confronted by his wife Kay (Diane Keaton) and she wants to know if he had his brother–in-law killed, and he says he won’t discuss the family business with her. He then stops and says, “Just this once. You can ask me just this once.” So she asks him again, and he says, “No, I didn’t have him killed,” and of course, he’s lying through his teeth. Great scene.
Not the most violent gangster on screen, but Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone is one of the coldest gangsters on screen. Ice runs through his veins.
L.L. SOARES: Another excellent choice. Everyone in the first two GODFATHER films is pretty terrific, but you’re right, Pacino might be the best one of all. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least mention Pacino’s other iconic gangster role, as Tony Montana in 1983’s SCARFACE. Some people have complained Pacino is too over-the-top in the role, but I still say it’s another iconic role that most movie gangster movies these days will be compared to. Besides, I really love SCARFACE.
MICHAEL ARRUDA: And that’s it for tonight’s QUICK CUTS. Thanks for joining us everybody!
© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, Garrett Cook, Jenny Orosel, Colleen Wanglund and Nick Cato