Revisiting Martin Scorsese’s mob dramas

martin scorsese
martin scorsese Joe Pesci in a still from the film Good Fellas (left) and Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon in The Departed’s poster (right).

As the release date of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman draws near, it is a good time to revisit the filmmaker’s gangster dramas. Here are a few noteworthy gangster films:

Mean Streets

Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese joined hands for the first time for the 1973 crime drama Mean Streets. Also starring Harvey Keitel, Mean Streets is not exactly your run-of-the-mill mob drama, but it interestingly plays with the themes of the mafia and honour.

While Harvey and De Niro are close friends, De Niro’s character is indebted to Harvey’s as the latter pulls him out of sticky situations involving loan sharks.

Good Fellas

In 1990, Martin Scorsese directed en epic crime drama which starred a host of actors, and of course, Robert De Niro. Featuring the main events from don Henry Hill’s life (from 1955-1980), the movie explored the grim realities of the underground crime scene and its key players. The film was based on Nicholas Pileggi’s non-fiction book Wiseguy. The movie went on to become a commercial as well as critical success and even bagged six Academy Award nominations. In fact, it is regarded by many critics as one of the most well-made crime dramas of all time.


Casino was also based on a screenplay co-written by Nicholas Pileggi and was adapted from the latter’s book called Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas. Starring Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone in significant parts, Casino, as the title of the movie suggests, follows one man’s involvement in the casino business and how the business gets entangled with the local crime scene. Casino marked the eighth collaboration between De Niro and Scorsese.

Gangs of New York

Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis starrer Gangs of New York is again a deviant in this list. The Scorsese directorial had violence, but there were religious and historical reasons behind it. It is the 1860s and the sects of Christianity — the Protestants and Catholics — are waging a battle against each other. It released in 2002 and received ten Oscar nods.

The Departed

And finally, we arrive at what is perceived to be one of Scorsese’s finest films — The Departed. The film had a bevy of stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin among others. And each one of them stepped up to the challenge including Wahlberg, who usually stars in mindless actioners. The subject of dual identities, deceit and con are tackled with skill and grace, but what is still one of the most outstanding things about the movie is Nicholson’s diabolical turn as the crime lord Frank Costello. The Departed released in 2006.

Martin Scorsese’s upcoming feature, The Irishman, will start streaming on Netflix from November 27.

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