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By Rebecca Logan
Lloyd Hughes (Rough Guide to Gangster Film 2005) Crime film started off from the silent era (1920’s) till this very day, it originated from no other than Hollywood. Originally, it replicated the prohibition era which was the 1920’s which then lead on to criminal ganglands. Each of these eras reflect societies crime fears or waves. Generic Iconography: •
Themes: ‘Ascension’ killing/Rival killings/The Heist,
Characters: Alienated Hero/Buddies/Hitmen/ Henchmen/Bent Cops/Good Cops/Canaries/Femme Fatales,
Mise en scene: Tuxedos/Suits/Dark lighting/ Dark rundown sets/High status cars,
Sound: Moody Scores/ ‘Wise guy’ language.
American Crime 1930s - Original Gangster Films: imitated the era of the 1920s when real life Mobsters, such as Al Capone, took control of bootlegging through their speakeasies. For example: • City Streets: City Streets is a 1931 American crime film noir directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Gary Cooper And Sylvia Sydney.
• Scarface: Scarface, is a 1932 American gangster film starring Paul Muni and Ann Dvorak.
American Crime Film Noir – 1940/50’s: Studios started to copy the 1930’s use of dark lighting, minimal sets and used themes that were more sinister; wartime turmoil. This included confused roles for genders such as: Alienated heroes and femme fatales.
For example: • The Chase: is a 1946 American black and white film noir. Starring Robert Cummings and Michele Morgan • Ministry of Fear: is a 1944 film noir directed by Fritz Lang. Based on a novel by Graham Greene, the film tells the story of a man just released from a mental asylum who finds himself caught up in an international spy ring and pursued by foreign agents after inadvertently receiving something they want.
British Crime o British Noir – 1940/50’s: Reflecting post war anxieties, British Crime followed Film Noir conventions charting the darker side of civilian life. For example: • Dear Murderer is a 1947 British thriller, directed by Arthur Crabtree for Gainsborough Pictures, and starring Eric Portman and Greta Gynt. • Brighton Rock: is a 1947 British film noir directed by John Boulting and starring Richard Attenborough as Pinkie (reprising his breakthrough West End creation of the character some three years earlier ).
American Crime •
1960s – Crime Capers: Reflected the economic and social optimism of the ‘swinging 60s’, with light hearted narratives and ‘loveable rogues’. E.g. Oceans 11 (1960) and Gangster Story.
For Example: •
Oceans 11: is a 1960 heist film directed by Lewis Milestone and starring five Rat Packers: Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Joey Bishop.
Gangster Story: is a 1960 American film directed by, and starring, Walter Matthau. A mobster is hiding from the law in a small town and running out of money, he robs a bank and rakes in some big bucks. However, now, not only are the cops after him, but so is the local mob boss who is jealous that an outsider pulled such a job in his territory.
British Crime •
1960s - British Crime Caper: Mixes comedy with the heist movie using ‘cheeky cockney’ characters of the Ealing Comedy era, romantic European settings and the original ‘cliff-hanger’ ending.
For Example: •
The Italian Job: is a 1969 British caper film, written by Troy Kennedy Martin, produced by Michael Deeley and directed by Peter Collinson.
Man of Violence: is a 1969 British crime film directed by Pete Walker and starring Michael Latimer, Hammer girls Virginia Wetherell (Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, Demons of the Mind) and Luan Peters (Lust for a Vampire, Twins of Evil), and Derek Aylward.
American Crime 1970/80s – Gritty Gangster Epic: Reflected the economic depression of 1970s with hard hitting Dons and drug pushing. For Example: •
Mean Streets: is a 1973 crime film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Scorsese and Mardik Martin. The film stars Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro.
Blaxploitation Films: Reflecting Civil Rights issues with mainly all black casts and Directors dealing with issues of racism, drugs and prostitution. Often using stereotypes. •
Foxy Brown: is a 1974 blaxploitation film written and directed by Jack Hill. It stars Pam Grier as the title character, described by one character as "a whole lot of woman" who showcases unrelenting sexiness while battling the villains.
British Crime 1970/1980s - Gritty British Crime: Emerged from the harsh downturn from the late 60s and early 70s, reflecting the notoriety of gangland figures such as the ‘well-groomed’ Kray twins. For Example: •
The Long Good Friday: is a British gangster film starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren. It was completed in 1979 but, because of release delays, it is generally credited as a 1980 film.
Bugsy Malone: is a 1976 British musical gangster film, directed by Alan Parker. Set in 1929 New York City, the film is very loosely based on events in New York City from the early 1920s to 1931 in the Prohibition era, specifically the exploits of gangsters like Al Capone and Bugs Moran.
American Crime •
1990 onwards Postmodern Crime: Reflects the Postmodern age where society today is overloaded with ideas so borrows references the past with new and challenging narratives (Hybrid genres, heavily stylised and blurred representations).
For Example: •
Pulp Fiction: is a 1994 American crime film directed by Quentin Tarantino, who also co-wrote the screenplay along with Roger Avary.
American Strays: is a 1996 American ComedyDrama film which follows three interwoven stories of desert travelers as they converge on a small diner.
British Crime • 1990s - British Postmodern Gangster: Borrowing ideas from past British Crime iconography, often reflecting the ‘New Laddism’ of the 1990s, Postmodern hybrids offer mixed representations and heavily stylised production. For Example: • Sexy Beast: is a 2000 AngloSpanish crime drama film written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto, directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley and Ian McShane. • London to Brighton: is a 2006 award-winning British film. The film was written and directed by Paul Andrew Williams.