The 10 most compelling on-screen gangsters

Slide show: From the Corleones to Nino Brown, the characters that breathed new life into the mobster genre

Published September 18, 2010 1:01AM (EDT)

"You can go a long way with a smile," Al Capone said. "You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun."

In honor of this weekend's premiere episode of "Boardwalk Empire," HBO's new show about Prohibition-era gangsters in Atlantic City, we've assembled a list of movie and TV criminals that go a long way with a smile and a gun. Truth in advertising requires us to admit that some of them don't do a whole lot of smiling. And at least two are never shown carrying a gun.

They're all gangsters, though. They're great characters that either defined the type or subverted it -- and they're so colorful and complicated that they can't be dismissed as cardboard thugs. There's something special about them, scary and repulsive as they may be.

By Matt Zoller Seitz

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