Apr 12, 2011
When you are referring to good gangster films, you’re talking about films like “The Public Enemy,” the original “Scarface,” “White Heat,” “The Asphalt Jungle,” “The Killers,” it doesn’t have to stand out because those are among the greatest American films ever produced. And those films are far more watchable today than many of the so-called “socially relevant” films of their respective eras. Genre films are what the American film industry does best not only was Scorsese overdue for an Oscar, so was this acknowledgement of the entire genre.
What puts “The Departed” in a class with those great films are Scorsese’s use of the letter “X” as a marker throughout the film, how he incorporated the colors red and blue–the colors usually associated with the lights atop police cars–to great effect in every scene (and how the Jack Nicholson character usually wore purple–a mixture of red and blue–as a hint to his true identity), and how he subtly saluted Carol Reed’s classic “The Third Man” and even the original Hong Kong film.