“The Godfather Trilogy,” along with several other mob films from the 1980s and 1990s, gave us a number of memorable movie lines, including these 10 best gangster movie quotes. In fact, gangster movies are among America’s favorite movie genres.
Everyone knows that American dreams were built on blood, sweat, and tears. Of course, some of them included illegal activity, too. Americans enjoy gangster films because they represent the struggle between law enforcement and organized crime that, in a way, helped define American capitalism.
Here are ten of the best gangster movie quotes of all time, and the films (presented in chronological order) that made these lines famous.
- “My father taught me many things…keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” “The Godfather Trilogy,” released between 1972 and 1990, gave us many memorable quotes, including this one from Don Michael Corleone (Al Pacino). The award-winning trilogy follows the Corleone family during their rise and fall in organized crime.
- “In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.” Pacino also gave us this quote, as Tony Montana in “Scarface.” This 1983 film tells the story of a Cuban immigrant seeking the American dream, only to discover the power and influence of drugs and money.
- “Take it easy! The difference is, they're always gonna win. And you're gonna keep gettin' it up the ass.” “Once Upon A Time In America,” a 1984 film, is a classic tale about a group of Jewish gangsters in New York. This memorable comes from David “Noodles” Aaronson (Robert De Niro), in a remark to James Conway O’Donnell (Treat Williams).
- “In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.” We learn this “cardinal rule” in a voice-over by Sam “Ace” Rothstein (Robert De Niro) in “Casino.” This 1985 film portrays power, money, deception and murder between two gangster friends.
- “You can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.” Such is the wisdom of Al Capone (Robert De Niro) in “The Untouchables.” In this 1987 film, Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) teams up with Jim Malone (Sean Connery) to bring down Capone.
- “But, I'm funny how? I mean, funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to f***in’ amuse you?” “Goodfellas” has Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) asking these questions in the 1990 movie. The film takes a look at America gangsters through the eyes of a half-Irish, half-Italian man involved in the mob.
- “If you want me to keep my mouth shut, it's gonna cost you some dough. I figure a thousand bucks is reasonable, so I want two.” This is the demand of Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) in “Miller’s Crossing.” In this 1990 film, Reagan is an advisor to a crime boss who gets caught up in a double-cross.
- “You thought you could steal from ME?” This gangster quote comes from Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegal (Warren Beatty) in the 1991 film, “Bugsy.“ Based on a true story, the movie portrays Siegal’s great Las Vegas dream before his life came to a bloody end.
- “Listen to me, kid. If she doesn't reach over and lift up that button so that you can get in, that means she's a selfish broad and all you're seeing is the tip of the iceberg. You dump her and you dump her fast.” “A Bronx Tale” features this memorable quote from Sonny LoSpecchio (Chazz Palmenteri). The 1993 movie tells the story of a boy who joins a local Bronx gang and a father who tries to protect him.
- “When they send for you, you go in alive, you come out dead, and it's your best friend that does it.” Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero (Al Pacino) gave us this gangster quote in the 1997 movie, “Donnie Brasco.” Based on a true story, the movie follows an undercover agent as he breaks into the mob and then struggles between mafia life and betrayal.