james cagney in the public enemy
Tom Powers (James Cagney, “The Public Enemy,” 1931): Never has a man treated a grapefruit — nor the woman whose face receives it — so roughly.
faye dunaway and warren beatty in bonnie and clyde
Rico Bandello (Edward G. Robinson, “Little Caesar,” 1931): This snarling mob hopeful was willing to eliminate anyone who stood in his way of accruing ever-greater power.
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, “Bonnie and Clyde,” 1967): “They’re young, they’re in love, and they kill people.” That line in the film’s ads pretty much said it all.
james caan in the godfather and al pacino in scarface
Sonny Corleone (James Caan, “The Godfather,” 1972): Several family members could have made this list, but we’re opting for hotheaded Sonny, whose temper made him fascinating to watch … and, inevitably, led him to a memorably violent exit.
Tony Montana (Al Pacino, “Scarface,” 1983): You can’t do this list without including the proudly strutting, relentless power seeker whose ultimate moment came when he raised a machine gun about as big as he was and declared to his enemies, “Say hello to my little friend!”
robert deniro in the untouchables and joe pesci in goodfellas
Al Capone (Robert De Niro, “The Untouchables,” 1987): Arguably history’s most notorious mobster has had numerous screen incarnations, but De Niro’s mix of subtle style and immediate fury (think “baseball bat”) is indelible.
Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci, “GoodFellas,” 1990): Absolutely unpredictable from one moment to the next — as one young waiter found out the hard way by returning one of Tommy’s many wisecracks — this manic would-be “made man” rightfully earned his portrayer an Academy Award.
paul newman in road to perdition and jack nicholson in the departed
John Rooney (Paul Newman, “Road to Perdition,” 2002): One of the most effectively low-key mobsters the screen has yielded in recent years, this patriarchal town kingpin wasn’t above ordering a “hit” on one of his most loyal deputies to protect his own interests.
Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson, “The Departed,” 2006): Allegedly inspired by Boston’s Whitey Bulger, this mob veteran unwittingly becomes the patron of an undercover policeman posing as a gangland wannabe.
Posted by:Jay Bobbin