Top Movies: 14 Days of Romance Day 12, Gangster Movies

When you think gangster, what pops in your mind? Guns, killing, corruption, Tony Soprano? Not romance, huh? But gangsters need love too.

And many will do anything to get and keep it.

And so, for our Valentine’s Day countdown, Disc Dish presents its top three choices for the Most Romantic Gangster Movies… What are your favorites?

Carlito's Way movie scene3. Carlito’s Way

As Carlito “Charlie” Brigante, Al Pacino (…And Justice For All) plays a Puerto Rican ex-con who dreams of going straight and living a life of bliss with girlfriend Penelope Ann Miller (TV’s Men of a Certain Age) in Brian De Palma’s (Scarface) 1993 film. They fell in love before he was sent to prison, and now that he’s back, one look and their feelings are rekindled. The scene when he breaks down the door to be with her? Classic. But, alas, the gangsters in his old ‘hood can’t let him go. Does love win in the end? That’s up to the viewer.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray (read our review) from Universal Studios Home Entertainment

High Sierra movie scene2. High Sierra

An impeccable early film noir/gangster picture brimming with romantic tension, Raoul Walsh’s (White Heat) 1941 High Sierra finds freshly paroled career criminal Roy Earle (Humphrey Bogart, The African Queen) joining with an aging gangster (Donald MacBride, The Killers) and his crew to orchestrate the heist of a casino on the Calfornia/Nevada border. One of the gangster’s molls, Marie (Ida Lupino, They Drive By Night) immediately falls for Roy, seeing in him a tough-minded kindred spirit. Roy is unresponsive at first, distracted by the upcoming caper and his feelings for a handicapped young woman (Joan Leslie, Sergeant York). But when a chance at romance goes bad, an emotionally weakened Roy falls into Marie’s arms, just in time for the robbery to go awry and the pair to high-tail out of town and into the Sierras. The pair separates, allowing Marie to escape and leaving Roy to meet his predestined end, calling out the name of his lover before he’s ventilated by a police sharpshooter.  Great stuff. Or, as New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther put it upon the film’s release in theaters: “Count on the old guard and Warners: They die but never surrender.”

Available on DVD from Warner Home Video

Bonnie and Clyde movie scene1. Bonnie and Clyde

Representing a radically graphic step forward in the depiction of violence and sex in commercial American cinema, the late Arthur Penn’s landmark Bonnie and Clyde is Hollywood’s most romantic gangster film. Adapted from the real-life story of the notorious Depression-era outlaws by David Newman and Robert Benton (with an uncredited assist by co-star/producer Warren Beatty of Heaven Can Wait and Robert Towne), the film features the exploits of the Barrow Gang, which aren’t always historically accurate. Instead, the 1967 movie plays up Bonnie and Clyde’s growing, fatalistic love for each other, which looks pretty nice on film if you’re Beatty’s Clyde and Faye Dunaway’s (Network) Bonnie. And all those high-energy bank heists and shoot-outs play directly into that love, heating things up enough for Clyde to overcome his impotence with Bonnie (which, reportedly, is also a fudging of the actual history, but who cares?). The pair’s infamous demise on the receiving end of 130 rounds fired by a posse of four Texas rangers is violent and memorable, but not as potent and, yes, romantic, as the loving, longing gaze they exchange the moment before the bullets begin to fly.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner

Check out all our 14 Days of Romance.

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.