They are often violent and laced with profanity, but the moviegoing public has shown insatiable taste for gangster films. They have captivated audiences for decades, reaching back to the films of Jimmy Cagney, Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart.

The new HBO series "Boardwalk Empire" offers a weekly reminder why gangster stories are so fascinating. Here are the top 10 gangster films to remember.

The Godfather'

Plot: An aging patriarch of an organized crime family transfers control of his covert empire to his son.

Impact: This 1972 film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is considered one of the best films in the history of American cinema. It brought into the American culture many memorable phrases, including this one. Who said it?

Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and James Caan. Which "Godfather" actor also had a successful television comedy career?

Video: Watch the trailer.

The Godfather, Part II'

Plot: The 1974 sequel/prequel to the first "Godfather" film followed the life of the Corleone family under the direction of son Michael.

Impact: Some say it's better than the first, and the film has become the standard by which other gangster movies are measured.

Stars: Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. The two stars never appeared together in the film, and would not be onscreen together until this film, nearly a quarter- century later.

Video: Watch the trailer.


Plot: This 1990 Martin Scorsese-directed film centered on Irish-American Henry Hill and his friends, who try to work their way up in the mob.

Impact: As well as being a box office smash (how much did it make?), the movie is also loved for its accurate period soundtrack.

Stars: Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Robert De Niro and Lorraine Bracco, who would go on to have a role in another fictional mob family.

Video: Watch the trailer.


Plot: This 1995 film directed by Martin Scorsese is a fact-based story following two mobsters and a trophy wife through greed, murder and deception.

Impact: Based on a real-life character, the movie was criticized for promoting this. The film was also notable for a soundtrack heavy with music from this classic British band.

Stars: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone. Which one was nominated for an Academy Award?

Video: Watch the trailer.

The Untouchables'

Plot: First a classic television series of the '50s, this 1987 movie is the telling of the story of federal agent Eliot Ness battling gangsters in Prohibition-era Chicago.

Impact: The film was critically acclaimed as well as a financial success. How many Academy Award nominations did it garner?

Stars: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery and Robert De Niro. What famous gangster does De Niro portray, who eventually died of an STD?

Video: Watch the trailer.


Plot: In 1983, director Brian De Palma remade the original movie (written by a now-prominent director), this time setting it in South Florida and depicting an ambitious Cuban immigrant named Tony Montana who takes over a drug empire.

Impact: The epic crime drama has made its mark on everything from video games to comic books. There was even talk of reviving it for the small screen.

Stars: Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer. "Scarface" was the nickname of what Chicago crime boss?

Video: Watch the trailer.

'The Departed'

Plot: Martin Scorsese won an Academy Award for his work on this 2006 tale of corruption and crime in Boston, a remake of a Hong Kong film that follows two men from opposite sides of the law.

Impact: One of the highest-rated releases in 2006, it has been ranked beside other Scorsese classics such as this film. It went on to gross enough to become the director's most successful film.

Stars: The film stars a new generation of actors, such as Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg, as well as veterans Martin Sheen and Jack Nicholson.

'Donnie Brasco'

Plot: Based on a true story, this 1997 film follows FBI agent Joe Pistone, who infiltrates the Bonanno crime family in the '70s using the undercover identity of the title character.

Impact: The film was nominated for one Academy Award.

Stars: Johnny Depp, Al Pacino and Michael Madsen. Donnie Brasco wasn't Depp's first role as an undercover cop.

Video: Watch the trailer.

Once Upon a Time in America'

Plot: At nearly four hours in length, this 1984 tale of Jewish gangsters in New York during Prohibition qualifies as an epic. Who was the director?

Impact: Despite the long run time and mixed reviews, the film reportedly was good enough to earn this from Cannes Film Festival goers.

Stars: James Woods and Robert De Niro.

Video: Watch the trailer.

My Blue Heaven'

Plot: This 1990 comedy is the classic "fish out of water" tale about an uptight FBI agent who is charged with protecting a mobster. What queen of romantic comedies wrote the screenplay?

Impact: The film was well received by critics, but box office numbers weren't astronomical. Over the years, it has developed a cult following.

Stars: Steve Martin and Rick Moranis. Moranis is well known as one of this pair of beer-loving Canadian brothers.

Video: Watch the trailer.