The history of the crime genre

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The history of the crime genre-

By Cerys Kirby-ThirlwellThe history of the crime genre-

Crime films are developed around sinister actions of criminals and gangsters, this is particularly bank robbers, underworld figures, or ruthless criminals who operate outside the law, their way of living is usually stealing and murdering their way through life. In the 1940s, a new type of crime thriller emerged which was considered more dark and cynical and this was called film noir . Crime and gangster films are either categorized as post war film noir or detective mystery films.

Film noir(black film or cinema) was invented by French film critics (firstly by Nino Frank in 1946) who noticed the trend of how dark, downbeat and black the looks and themes were on so many of the American crime and gangster films released in the French cinemas after the war. These are films such as Falcon(1941) , The women and the widow(1944), Double Indemnity(1944) and Laura(1944). The primary moods of a film noir- melancholy, alienation, bleakness, evil, guilt, desperation. Heroes/anti heroes- usually corrupt characters, cops, gangsters, petty criminals, plain joes, sardonic, obsessive, hard boiled.

Film noir

Criminal films date back to the early days such as the silent era. One of the first popular crime films to start of this genre was D.W Griffiths, Three Musketeers of Pig Alley(1912) about organized crime. Raoul Walshs first feature film was The regeneration(1915) which showcased violent lawlessness on the streets of New York and the rise of an Irish-American slum boy who grew up to be a gangster because of the repressive social conditions in the environment. Josef Von Sternberg's gangland melodrama Underworld(1927) , which is often considered as the first modern crime and gangster film, this film was shot at the gangsters point of view. Early crime films-

In the 1930s there was the sound era and this was when crime films became truly entertaining and a popular way to get people that were interested in the lawless and violence on the screen. The events of the prohibition era(until 1933) such as bootlegging and the St. Valentines day massacre of 1929 and the rise of contemporary organized crime and the escalation of violence helped this genre. This genre was generally based on prostitution, gambling and bootlegging as this was very popular in this era. Movies flaunted the typical exploits of swagging, cruel, willy, touch and law defying bootleggers and urban gangsters. The talking picture era made crime films more attractive and popular as you needed the sound to hear the machine guns, screeching breaks, screams and squealing tires, this brings it all to life. A film in this era were The lights of New York (1928) which enhanced the urban crime and the crackling dialogue of screeching tires and gun shots. Gangster films in the era of the Talking picture.

Another influential post-war film that helped launch the entire genre in the 1930s was German director Fritz Langs Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler (parts I and II)(1922-1923). This was a two part crime melodrama about an evil, criminal boss who was capable of disguise, conspiracy and tremendous hypnotic powers. Dr. Mabuse was brought back for a second feature film, the crime thriller The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933), about a ruthless genius running a crime ring whilst imprisoned, and a persistent Scotland detective in pursuit. This film was noted for its spectacular car chase scene, explosions and murders. Fritz Lang

Warner Bros were known for their excellent gangster and crime films and actors established and defined their careers in this genre such as- Edward G. RobinsonJames CagneyHumphrey BogartThree films that were released by Warner Bros were-Little Caeser 1930 which was about a gritty, coarse and ruthless Chicago killer.The public enemy 1931- which was about a cocky, fast talking, nasty and brutal criminal/bootlegger called Tom powers.Scarface: The shame of the nation 1932- a Howard Hughes production about a power mad, vicious, beastly and murderous racketeer. These type of films all link with the same type of vicious character and storyline. Warners early crime films-

In the 50s, there was more organized crime organizations (the mob) taking over, followed by intense actions, realistic settings, rich characterizations and a view of society sick, corrupted and immoral. Coppolas Crime films- In the 1970s two of the most epic films were brought out and these were The Godfather 1972 and The Godfather Part II 1974. Both were about a violent, treacherous and a tightly knit crime family from Sicily who settled into New York and became as powerful as the government. Both contained brutal death scenes.Organized crime-gangster films-