You can go a lot further with a smile and a gun."
-- Al Capone
Defined by the American Film Institute as a genre centered on "organized crime or maverick criminals in a twentieth century setting", gangster films depict the "dark side of the American dream". They are also the next step in the Movie Dearest countdown to AFI's 10 Top 10.
With a total of eight combined mentions on previous AFI lists, there is no doubt that the combined might of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II will place both high on this list; the only question is which will place highest? Another sure thing is Bonnie and Clyde, an AFI favorite with six previous placements. Next up are two films, On the Waterfront and Some Like It Hot (with five and four previous mentions, respectively) who's "gangster film" status is negligible at best; more likely are two more recent examples, Pulp Fiction and GoodFellas, both of which placed on both of AFI's top 100 movies lists.
Looking at the bad guys portion of the AFI's Heroes & Villains list nets such old school vets (and thus strong contenders here) as Edward G. Robinson’s Little Caesar and James Cagney for both The Public Enemy and White Heat, plus the original Scarface, Paul Muni, whose Cuban descendant also placed on the Movie Quotes list with his legendary "Say hello to my little friend". All five are possibilities this go round, along with single list honorees Touch of Evil and The Usual Suspects, plus the sole AFI Award winner in the bunch, A History of Violence.
Notably absent from the AFI Awards in 2005 was The Departed, the most recent of the fifty nominees (see comments section below for the full list); the oldest nominee is 1927's Underworld. In all probability, I have mentioned the final top ten already, but other notable films in contention include Donnie Brasco, Miller's Crossing, Once Upon a Time in America, Out of Sight, Prizzi's Honor and Reservoir Dogs, plus oddities like a musical (Bugsy Malone) and a Woody Allen comedy (Bullets Over Broadway).
Who is the best of the "worst" will be revealed when AFI's 10 Top 10 airs on CBS on June 17.