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American Gangster Film - Essay Example

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The gangster genre is a series of cycles, where each draws and develops from its forerunners, but at the same time reflecting the characteristic concerns and feature of its time. The classical genre expression in the 1930s The classical expression of the genre film is based on the rise and fall of the criminal, often involving the simple beginnings from early youth to maturity at the peak of their criminal careers, seemingly and finally ending tragically. The classical expression of the early thirties was viewed by the audience as a clear response to the depression and the expanded misery over the public policy value and government institutions, law and finance (Shadoian 57). This can help describe the key actors such as Rico in Little Caesar and Tony in Scarface, who were powerful figures who thrived in the face of executive opposition, through their own efforts. After the disagreement over Scarface, there existed a short suspension of gangster films, even though some of the forces behind the classical cycle had disappeared with the elimination of the Volstead Act of 1933. However, by the mid 1930s, a new range of post-abolition, post-production Code gangster films developed, looking at similar themes and involving most of the previous actors, though shifting the focus away from the gangsters and instead focusing on the implementers. The Depression pessism led to the optimism of the New Deal and the gangster genre sought to reassert the legality of executive authority through a couple of films. Nonetheless, classic cycle could still offer its audience with similar vicarious experience of corruption and heroic violence as the forerunners, though the violence was continued more or less legally. Some of the films that set the pace for this phase of genre development were the Little Caesar of 1930, the Public Enemy of 1931, and Scarface of 1932 (Munby 19). These gangsters are often immigrants who are victims of circumstance and always depicted as egotistical maniacs. In the 1930s, the films were arguably developed to initiate a level of security and stability for the audience in the throes of Depression. The film noir phase of the film genre development This is a phase experienced in the 1940s and 1950s, looking at the darker features of modernity, and often exploring the impacts of a criminal act. Gangster films within the film noir phase may have portrayed a shared iconography with the forerunner of the 1930s, though they brought a distinctive attitude and a darker tone than any other did. After the war, films gave an obvious reflection of a pessimistic and darkening mood, among the challenges to “traditional” values that service men experienced. Even though this phase of genre development has been conceived as aesthetically deviant and experimental, portraying little links to what happened before, noir gangster films took over from where pre-war crime movies had left. Viewers received them as an awkward reminder of issues whose solution had been put off by the quest to prosecute the war. Examples of such films are the High Sierra of 1940 and White Heat of 1949 (Booker 105). Filmmakers in 1940s and 50s were not really making the noir film, but creating pictures for masses of viewers which are still hugely entertaining. Films in the classical genre were subversive and queried the facade of daily lives in ...Show more


Name Instructor Course Date American Gangster Film The development of the gangster genre as a “static and dynamic system” from the classical to the modernist to the post-modernist expression of the genre Introduction Gangster films are developed around the evil actions of gangsters and criminals, most specifically underworld figures, bank robbers, of cruel hoodlums who violate the law, stealing and ruthlessly killing their way through life…
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American Gangster Film
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