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Like The Godfather? Then check out these 3 great crime movies now

Marlon Brando stars in The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
Paramount Pictures / Paramount

The Godfather blew into theaters 52 years ago this week, and aside from The Godfather Part II, there’s never been another crime epic that has been able to come close to living up to the legacy that this film left behind. The Godfather won the 1972 Oscar for Best Picture, and Marlon Brando was named Best Actor for his role as Don Vito Corleone, the head of the Corleone crime family.

This film has become such a culture touchstone that other movies and TV shows still refer back to it over four decades later. While most crime movies can’t match the power of The Godfather, there are a handful of other films in the same genre that should appeal to anyone who enjoyed director Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s iconic novel. For our money, if you ever loved The Godfather, then these are the three great crime movies that you should watch now.

Goodfellas (1990)

Three men sitting at a bar drinking and smoking in a scene from Goodfellas.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed and Casino could have also filled out this list, and few would have complained. But rather than making this an all-Scorsese movie roundup, we’re focusing on the director’s greatest crime epic: Goodfellas. It’s based on the true story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a mobster whose life of crime began in the ’50s and lasted nearly three decades.

Henry and his closest friends, James “Jimmy” Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), quickly rise through the ranks of the mob and enjoy the benefits of that lifestyle even when Henry is sent to prison. But their good fortune also makes them arrogant and overconfident. Even Henry’s luck can’t last forever. And when it comes to a life of crime, it’s every man for himself.

Watch Goodfellas on Hulu.

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Robert DeNiro and James Woods star in Once Upon a Time in America, directed by Sergio Leone.
Warner Bros. Pictures

You may notice that Once Upon a Time in America is Robert De Niro’s second appearance on this list, and he was also one of the stars of The Godfather Part II. That’s in part because De Niro used to have better instincts about which films he appeared in. This was also the final film by Sergio Leone, the director of some of the greatest spaghetti westerns ever made.

Once Upon a Time in America follows David “Noodles” Aaronson (De Niro) and his friends Maximilian “Max” Bercovicz (James Woods), Patrick “Patsy” Goldberg (James Hayden), and Philip “Cockeye” Stein (William Forsythe), as they embrace the criminal underworld through the Prohibition years and beyond. But it’s a dangerous way to live, and sometimes even their friends can’t be trusted.

Watch Once Upon a Time in America on Paramount+.

American Gangster (2007)

Denzel Washington holds a gun in American Gangster.
Universal Pictures

The mafia hasn’t cornered the market for crime in New York, as demonstrated in Ridley Scott’s American Gangster. This film is based on the life of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a man who pulled himself up through the underworld until he became the Godfather of Harlem. Lucas was so effective at drug smuggling that he even became more prominent than his mafia counterparts.

Allowing himself to become famous may have been Lucas’ biggest mistake, because it inspires Detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) to look more closely into his criminal affairs. However, Roberts faces roadblocks at nearly every turn of his investigation, as well as a corrupt cop, Detective Trupo (Dune: Part Two‘s Josh Brolin), who won’t let a fellow police officer get in the way of his illicit paydays.

Watch American Gangster on Max.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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