This article is about the film. For members of a criminal organization, see Gangster.

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Karbelnikoff
Produced by Jim Ballantine
Carolyn Bates
Written by Michael Mahern
Nicholas Kazan
Music by Michael Small
Cinematography Lajos Koltai
Edited by Joe Augustine
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • July 26, 1991 (1991-07-26)
Running time

104 minutes (theatrical)

120 minutes (uncut)
Language English
Budget $23 million
Box office $20,246,790[1]

Mobsters is a 1991 American crime film directed by Michael Karbelnikoff. It details the creation of The Commission. Set in New York City, taking place from 1917 to 1931, it is a semi-fictitious account of the rise of Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Frank Costello, and Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. The film stars Christian Slater as Luciano, Patrick Dempsey as Lansky, Costas Mandylor as Costello and Richard Grieco as Siegel, with Michael Gambon, Anthony Quinn, Lara Flynn Boyle, and F. Murray Abraham in supporting roles.


This highly dramatized film focuses primarily on Luciano and Lansky. They start as young men victimized by the current mafia. They rise from petty criminals and bootleggers to push aside the old guard of the Mafia and eventually establish The Commission, which set up the New York Mafia into five separate families. Bugsy Siegel (Richard Grieco) and Frank Costello (Costas Mandylor) control the physical elements of the operation, while Lucky Luciano (Christian Slater) and Meyer Lansky (Patrick Dempsey) bring up the business end.[2]



The movie was loosely based on the book, The Last Testament of Lucky Luciano written in 1974 by Martin A. Gosch and Richard Hammer. The film is generally in line with historical truth. The Castellammarese War from 1928 to 1931, is never named. Mara Motes is a character of fiction based in part on Luciano's girlfriend, Gay Orlova. However, two major events are depicted inaccurately; the death of Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll and the death of Faranzano/Maranzano. In early 1932, "Dutch" Schultz killed Coll in a Manhattan telephone booth.


The film was almost-universally panned by critics earning a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 32 reviews. Variety wrote that "'Mobsters' resembles a cart-before-the-horse case of putting marketing ahead of filmmaking, as the seemingly can't-miss premise of teen-heartthrob gangsters gets lost in self-important direction, a shoddy script and muddled storytelling".[3] According to Roger Ebert, the movie's violence and bloodshed are so far over the top that "they undermine the rest of the film, and approach parody". He gave the movie two and a half out of four stars.

Both Anthony Quinn and Christian Slater were each nominated for a Razzie Award as Worst Supporting Actor for their performances in this film, where they lost to Dan Aykroyd for Nothing But Trouble.

Slater said he was hoping that the film would be like Bugsy but this didn't happen. "Our movie ended up in bits and pieces all over the world," he said. "They had different versions flying to Japan, Europe and every other place. There were extended versions, shortened versions; all kinds of weird versions. In my opinion, audiences never got to see a full film. Somewhere in all that mess, there was a legitimate story. It was there in the script."[4]

Box office

The movie debuted at No. 2 behind Terminator 2: Judgment Day and failed to make a profit.[5]


External links

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