Gangsta’s Paradise

February 9, 2020

At a time when The Irishman and The Gentleman depict the present gangster film genre, The Ultimate Book of Gangster Movies by George Anastasia and Glen Macnow, does a tremendous job of debunking the myth.

If you think that Martin Scorsese’ The Irishman is the best gangster film of all-time or that Guy Ritchie has mastered the genre, think again. While The Irishman is streaming on Netflix and Guy Ritchie’s The Gentleman screened in cinemas, read all there is to know about gangster films. You will be surprised to know there is a lot more [to it] than meets the eye.

Co-authors George Anastasia and Glen Macnow present The Ultimate Book of Gangster Movies that is a step ahead of 100 Greatest Gangster Films of All Time.

The book not only features material that is featured in 100 Greatest Gangster Films of All Time but informs in a much more detailed fashion. For readers who don’t know that The Godfather has three parts, The Usual Suspects‘ lineup scene was improvised as nobody could stop laughing or that Tim Roth was cast in Reservoir Dogs because of his anonymity rather than acting skills, will enjoy the insider information.

The book makes you want to watch gangster films, even if you haven’t seen most of them. The authors have done a marvelous job in resurrecting classic gangster movies from the black and white era by not only including them in their 100 list, but also by writing about them with research-based authority.

Be it a Hollywood classic or a Japanese one, featuring Sicilian Mafia or the Irish Mob, this book talks about them in a fashion that is befitting of gangster style. Every film comprises a chapter that is further divided into side-bars. In ‘Hit’, the authors mention the reason why a film became a huge hit while in ‘Miss’ they criticise the film if there is any reason to do so. In the section ‘What They Wrote At That Time’ the leading critics’ review that were published after the film’s release are mentioned (and you will be shocked to read some of the comments). In ‘Goof’, the film’s biggest mistake is revealed and ‘Reality Check’ offers a list of discrepancies in the final version. In ‘Repeated Watching Quotient’ we get to learn if a film can be watched again while ‘Pivotal Scene’ talks about the most iconic scene in the movie.

Then there is ‘Don’t Fail to Notice’ where you get to know something that you didn’t before, which is followed by ‘Casting Call’ where actors and actresses missing the film are discussed. ‘Violence Level and Body Count’ provides insight in assessing the film in holistic fashion.

‘Bet You Didn’t Know’ brings forth one or two previously unknown facts about the movie. ‘The Best Line’ is exactly what you think it should be while ‘I Know That Gal/Guy’ mentions an actor you didn’t know also starred in a movie. And if you do like a certain film, this book refers another one in ‘If You Liked This, You’ll Like’ sidebar section

Naming some of the films that we already have in our list of best gangster includes The Godfather trilogy although the last one wasn’t that big a hit; Goodfellas released the same year as the final Godfather. You can’t keep The Usual Suspects, Heat, Reservoir Dogs, Once Upon A Time In America, The Untouchables, Gangs of New York, Midnight Run, Snatch, Layer Cake, Lucky Number Slevin and Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels away from the list. The way each film is dissected allows you learn more about gangster films than an average fan. And while you’re at it, there is a hidden list featured as well that rates the worst gangster movies somewhere in the book and Sylvester Stallone’s name prominently features in there.

The Ultimate Book of Gangster Movies is a book you can’t put down because it talks to the readers rather than the readers going through it. Also included in the book is a foreword from the real-life Donnie Brasco (Joe Pistone), actors and directors who made a name for themselves through gangster films (Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen and Tim Roth among others). Using compelling photographs from the movies instead of movie posters, the book intelligently stays away from giving away spoilers. So, if you don’t want to know who Keyser Soze was or which actor died in a movie, go through it without the fear of knowing the end.


– Omair Alavi is a freelance broadcast
journalist who can be contacted at [email protected]

George Anastasia, Glen Macnow's book features 100 greatest gangster movies of all time