Collection of contemporary gangster films. In 'Mean Streets' (1973) four Italian-Americans from New York's lower East Side hang around at a local bar. Charlie (Harvey Keitel), the most responsible of the group, tries to protect his girlfriend's cousin, Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro), from the local debt collectors, but his young charge seems determined to live fast and die young. Heavily influenced by the French New Wave, 'Mean Streets' provided the first high-profile success for director Martin Scorsese and star De Niro. In 'Scarface' (1983), up-and-coming gangster Tony Montana (Al Pacino) arrives in Miami as a Cuban refugee. With his friend Manny (Stephen Bauer), Tony carries out a hit on a politician, earning him the gratitude of drug dealer Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia). Tony rises rapidly in the 'organization', but courts disaster when he becomes involved with Lopez's cocaine-addicted wife, Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer). In 'Carlito's Way' (1993), Carlito (Pacino) is a Hispanic drugs boss just released from prison. Determined to go straight and move to the Bahamas with his girlfriend, Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), Carlito is tempted back to the wrong side of the law by his lawyer, nerdish coke-head David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn), for 'one last job'. Brian De Palma directs this visually eloquent film about a man's inevitable tragic demise with his familiar penchant for the big set piece and violent action.
In 'Casino' (1995), Sam 'Ace' Rothstein (De Niro) is the mob's frontman for a billion dollar Las Vegas casino. The story begins in 1973; Ace falls for hooker Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone), while boyhood companion Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) is appointed as his muscle at the club. Over the years various jealousies surface and erupt in a series of violent betrayals and, ultimately, the destruction of Rothstein's empire. In 'American Gangster' (2007), when his boss dies, underworld driver Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) seizes his chance and begins to build his own criminal empire. Utilising the bodies of dead US soldiers, Lucas begins importing heroin direct from South-East Asia, increasing purity on the street, and undercutting his rivals in one swoop. Before long he's amassed a fortune, bringing him to the attention of maverick policeman Ritchie Roberts (Russell Crowe), an honest cop in an otherwise corrupt force, who makes it his business to shut Lucas down. Finally, in 'Public Enemies' (2009), set in 1930s gangland America, Johnny Depp stars as the charismatic bank robber John Dillinger. Dillinger's audacious raids and subsequent jailbreaks thrilled the American public as their sympathy for the banks that had plunged the country into Depression reached an all-time low. Despite his status as a folk hero, Dillinger was declared 'Public Enemy Number One' by J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) and became the prime target of Hoover's fledgling FBI, headed by Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale). Marion Cotillard co-stars as gangster's moll Billie Frechette.