Mafia at the Movies: Five Mob Films You Can't Refuse

Duke Professor Roberto Dainotto offers up his Top 5 favorite mafia movies.

Paul Muni in "Scarface"

Is it possible to have a Top 5 Mafia Movies list without "Goodfellas?" Well, compare your choices to those of Romance studies Professor Roberto Dainotto, who likes mafia movies so much that he teaches a class on them. In the classroom, he uses myriad films both Italian and American to explain the growth of organized crime over more than century.

Here, Dainotto offers up his five favorites. 

1. "The Godfather," (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972). "Coppola's Godfather saga established a romantic myth of the mafia -- the family values, the code of honor, the solar pastoral of Sicily, the guns and cannoli -- with which any director or viewer, after 1972, had to measure his or her expectations. It may also be the movie that has occasioned more spoofs in the entire history of cinema."

2. "Mafioso," (Alberto Lattuada, 1962) This little-known gem of the Italian comedy genre is a rare example oftrue hilarity opening very serious reflections about the workings and global reach of the mafia. 

3. "Scarface," (Howard Hawks, 1932) Classic Hollywood take on the mafia. Based loosely on the life and deeds of Al Capone (who was apparently proud of such cinematic attention), when the movie was released in 1932 it shocked its audience with fast-paced action, quick montage, furious car chases, and unprecedented violence.

4. "Hundred Steps," (Marco Tulio Giordana, 2000) One of the most successful examples of recent Italian anti-mafia movies, "Hundred Steps" memorializes the life of Peppino Impastato, born in a mafia family to become one of the major voices of the anti-mafia movement in Sicily before being murdered in 1978.

5. "Tano to Die For," (Roberta Torre, 1997) A parody of John Waters' "Hairspray," Roberta Torre's film is a mafia musical -- if you can imagine such a grotesque thing -- intent in relentlessly mocking the very notion of "men of honor." John Travolta playing the role of Edna Turnblad in the 2007 remake of *Hairspray*, is the epitome of masculinity in comparison.