Crime Films

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Cambridge University Press, Aug 15, 2002 - Performing Arts - 383 pages
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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.
 

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Contents

The Problem of the Crime Film
1
Historical and Cultural Overview
18
The Romance of the Silent Criminal
20
Tough Guys
23
The Crisis in Hollywood Crime
29
Criminal Culture and Mass Culture
35
The Establishment on Trial
40
Criminal Anxieties Criminal Jokes
44
Personal Books and Reference Books
75
Fury and the Victim Film
79
The Godfather and the Gangster Film
103
Double Indemnity and the Film Noir
126
Basic Instinct and the Erotic Thriller
146
Murder on the Orient Express Blue Velvet and the UnofficialDetective Film
170
Chinatown and the PrivateEye Film
192
Bullitt and the Police Film
215

Critical Overview
52
Theories of Crime Fiction
54
Hollywood Mythmaking
56
Genre versus Auteur
58
Thematic and Iconographic Analysis
60
Structuralism and Beyond
63
Feminist Critique
69
Demystifications
72
Reversal of Fortune and the Lawyer Film
241
Fargo and the Crime Comedy
265
Conclusion What Good Are Crime Films?
289
Notes
309
Selected Bibliography
331
FilmographyVideography
341
Index
359
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About the author (2002)

Thomas M. Leitch teaches English and directs the Film Studies Program at the University of Delaware.

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