PRINT January 1991


Gangster Flicks

WHETHER OR NOT The Godfather Part III arrives as promised on December 25, America’s Christmas present to itself, the past few months brought a well-remarked-upon season of gangster flicks, with no less than seven examples of the genre opening in New York—Dick Tracy, The Freshman, Goodfellas, Miller’s Crossing, King of New York, State of Grace, and The Krays—as well as the promise of more, including a portrait of Bugsy Siegel and an adaptation of the E. L. Doctorow best-seller Billy Bathgate. Do we have to ponder the source of the appeal? Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas and Peter Medak’s The Krays, the current cycle’s two most factual (being based on real stories) and “naturalistic” examples, are careful to exploit the affinity between mobsters and film stars. In The Krays, a British film and hence only tangentially concerned with American mythology, the eponymous brothers are dismissed as “

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