By Constantinos Psillides
New Jersey accent, tough guys, wise guys and people using the word “whacked”. Welcome to the world of the gangster and mob cinema, a world 90 per cent inhabited by Martin Scorcese, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. While you can quench your thirst for mob entertainment going through Netflix’s library (Godfather, Goodfellas, The Irishman and others) here are some suggestions for gangster series to binge on.
Bad Blood – Netflix
A semi-biographical series, Bad Blood tells the story of the Rizzuto crime family, a mob outfit that ran the city of Montreal for years. The Rizzutos are an actual crime family and the first season of the show details their rise and eventual fall. Sons of Anarchy veteran Kim Coates stars as Declan Gardiner, Vito Rizzuto’s right-hand man, who takes the reins of the organisation by force after Vito goes to jail. Vito’s absence leaves a power vacuum, and Declan needs to outmaneuver threats from within the organisation as well as maintain the peace that was brokered by Vito prior to his arrest.
The second season of the show is completely fictional and there’s no news yet on a third.
The Making of the Mob: New York & Chicago – Apple TV
Warning: This series is not for everyone. Making the Mob is a docu-series on the true history of the rise of the organised crime families in the US but it is not tailored to the casual viewer. This deep-dive into mob history is more geared towards people who love gangster movies and want to know more about the true story of that world.
Starting in 1905, Making of the Mob is a hybrid series, with real footage, re-enactments and interviews with people who studied organised crime and the occasional Sopranos actor thrown in for good measure. Narrated by Ray Liotta (Goodfellas), this eight-episode series goes behind names such as Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel. The series’ second season takes place in Chicago, where the main person of interest is of course the notorious Al Capone.
McMafia – Amazon Prime
Acclaimed series about the next generation of the Russian mafia. With shooting locations spanning the globe, this glossy gangster series tells the story of Alex Godman, the heir of an empire of Russian-Jewish expats who escaped their criminal past and found a new life in London. UK born and raised Alex is now working as a banker but gets sucked back into his family’s criminal past when a member of his family is killed by a contract killer. James Norton plays the leading role but it is veteran actor David Strathairn who steals the show as the ruthless Semiyon Kleiman, a Russian businessman who is out to take control of everything.
Peaky Blinders – Netflix
A global phenomenon, now in its final season, Peaky Blinders tells the story of the Shelby family, an organised crime outfit operating out of Birmingham in the early 20th century. Lead by Cilian Murphy as Tommy Shelby, Peaky Blinders is a perfect mix of period drama and an old-school gangster film, with some great music sprinkled in for good measure. The sixth and final season is expected to drop next year albeit without one of the main cast members as actress Helen McCrory, who played Aunt Polly, died from cancer earlier this year.
Peaky Blinders is loved by both fans and critics, although we should point out it is responsible for the flat cap’s return to fashion. Let’s hope the new Indiana Jones film isn’t a success, as the world simply cannot take any more fedoras.