Organised crime groups, often referred to as mobs, have been a feature of Hollywood movies for a long time. Like any popular movie theme, it is often subject to certain clichés, especially around the characters who play the part of those involved in the mob. They are usually always in cahoots with law enforcement, they will have a code to adhere to, will often wear a pinstripe suit with braces, that the trousers are too small. They will have a very attractive girlfriend, a nice car, have unresolved issues with their fathers and often speak with either a New York or fake Italian accent.
Mobs are also usually associated with gambling as they will often be seen playing some form of illegal poker whilst smoking a cigar or sat in a casino playing roulette with a beautiful woman on their arm. The mob connection allegedly helped build Las Vegas into the multi-billion dollar tourist industry it is now, but aside from the occasional casino with a theme, the only way you now are likely to see a mob association with an actual land based casino is in the movies, where many films in the past have been based upon stories involving casinos and mobs or member of gangs.
One example of such a film is Mr Lucky, which was released in 1943. Cary Grant portrays a shady gambler who is trying to scam a charity by pretending to be a dead gangster, but has a change of heart after falling in love with a very rich socialite. The film depicts 1940s Hollywood glamour and really is an exploitation of the bad guy turned good with the help of a women theme.
The 1998 film Rounders is also a great example of this movie theme. John Malkovich plays a crazy Russian mobster who takes part in a no holds barred game of Texas Hold ‘em poker. This film explores the grim side of addiction and an outstanding performance by Malkovich and Matt Damon go to show that there is nothing glamorous about dangerous short lives and thrills brought on by gambling in such a dangerous way. The film contains a lot of dark humour which stops the viewer from getting philosophical whilst watching.
It is likely that mobs will continue to be present on our screens in terms of TV series such as classic favourites like the Sopranos and The Wire and also in movies such as Scarface. With any popular theme of movie, sub plots and themes will have to be recycled from time to time, therefore it is likely we will continue to see mob clichés for the foreseeable future on our screens. We will continue to see new productions telling stories of ‘this is the last job then I’m done’, the rags to riches tales and the epic shootout scenes.