‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ and Other Films About Breaking the Law With Good Intentions

Ryan Gosling’s latest big-screen foray is far from traditional Hollywood fare. The Place Beyond the Pines — also starring Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, and Ray Liotta — re-teams the A-list actor with director Derek Cianfrance, the man behind the brilliantly devastating Blue Valentine. As we’ve hinted at before, revealing exactly what makes this film so different would spoil part of the (bleak) fun, but what has been made clear is the basic setup: Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a tatted-up stunt biker who discovers he has a previously unknown son. To try to support his newly found progeny, he turns to a life of crime, robbing banks to bankroll his child’s care.

And while the film itself is most definitely unique, that particular trope remains a familiar one: A character who is basically good at heart resorts to breaking the law for mostly unselfish reasons — criminal intent with the best of intentions. There’s a long history of this happening at the cinema; click through below for ten prime examples, from the deadly serious to the absurd.