The first full-fledged gangster movie and still an effective mood piece, this 1927 milestone was directed by the master of delirious melodrama, Josef von Sternberg. George Bancroft is the hard-boiled hero, granted tragic status in his final sacrifice. Ben Hecht wrote the script, and many of the same ideas turn up, in a very different moral context, in his screenplay for Howard Hawks’s 1932 masterpiece, Scarface.