The two most successful creations of American movies are the gangster and western movies: men with guns.
This reflects the importance of guns in the fantasy life of Americans.
Gangster films are the story of enterprise and success ending in precipitate failure. The exact nature of the gangster enterprises may remain vague, but his commitment to enterprise is always clear, because he operates outside the field of utility. He is without culture, without manners, without leisure or his leisure is just another aspect of his "work." But he is graceful, moving like a dancer among the crowded dangers of the city.
The gangster is crude in conceiving his ends but by no means inarticulate. He is lonely and melancholy, and can give the impression of a profound worldly wisdom. He appeals most to adolescence with their impatience and their feeling of being outsiders, but more generally he appeals to that side of all of us which refuses to believe in the "normal" possibilities of happiness and achievement. The gangster is the "no" to that great American "yes" which is stamped so big over our official culture and yet has so little to do with the way we really feel about our lives.
The gangster's loneliness and melancholy are not "authentic" like everything else that belongs to him. He is lonely and melancholy because he has put himself in a position where everybody wants to kill him and eventually somebody will. He is wide open and defenseless because unable to accept any limits or come to terms with his own nature, fearful, loveless. The story of his career is a nightmare inversion of the values of ambition and opportunity.