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Crime Films : Genres in American Cinema - Thomas M. Leitch

Crime Films

Genres in American Cinema


Published: 1st September 2002
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This book surveys the entire range of crime films, including important subgenres such as the gangster film, the private eye film, film noir, as well as the victim film, the erotic thriller, and the crime comedy. Focusing on ten films that span the range of the twentieth century, Thomas Leitch traces the transformation of the three leading figures that are common to all crime films: the criminal, the victim and the avenger. Analyzing how each of the subgenres establishes oppositions among its ritual antagonists, he shows how the distinctions among them become blurred throughout the course of the century. This blurring, Leitch maintains, reflects and fosters a deep social ambivalence towards crime and criminals, while the criminal, victim and avenger characters effectively map the shifting relations between subgenres, such as the erotic thriller and the police film, within the larger genre of crime film that informs them all.

"Leitch makes his case, and provides a structure through which any crime film--and, really, any film with a criminal, victim, and avenger--can be studied. Such a structure is never more valuable than now." Erik Lundegaard, Film Quarterly "No film critic writes more clearly, in a style unencumbered by jargon. Even the photo captions are unusually perceptive and amusing. Highly recommended." Choice

List of Illustrationsp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
The Problem of the Crime Filmp. 1
Historical and Cultural Overviewp. 18
The Romance of the Silent Criminalp. 20
Tough Guysp. 23
The Crisis in Hollywood Crimep. 29
Criminal Culture and Mass Culturep. 35
The Establishment on Trialp. 40
Criminal Anxieties, Criminal Jokesp. 44
Critical Overviewp. 52
Theories of Crime Fictionp. 54
Hollywood Mythmakingp. 56
Genre versus Auteurp. 58
Thematic and Iconographic Analysisp. 60
Structuralism and Beyondp. 63
Feminist Critiquep. 69
Demystificationsp. 72
Personal Books and Reference Booksp. 75
Fury and the Victim Filmp. 79
The Godfather and the Gangster Filmp. 103
Double Indemnity and the Film Noirp. 126
Basic Instinct and the Erotic Thrillerp. 146
Murder on the Orient Express, Blue Velvet, and the Unofficial-Detective Filmp. 170
Chinatown and the Private-Eye Filmp. 192
Bullitt and the Police Filmp. 215
Reversal of Fortune and the Lawyer Filmp. 241
Fargo and the Crime Comedyp. 265
Conclusion: What Good Are Crime Films?p. 289
Notesp. 309
Selected Bibliographyp. 331
Filmography/Videographyp. 341
Indexp. 359
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521646710
ISBN-10: 0521646715
Series: Genres in American Cinema
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 1st September 2002
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.23 x 15.24  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.55