Crime Films

This section of Crimeculture focuses on the most often discussed forms of crime film – gangster films, detective films, classic film noir, neo-noir, cop action films.  It also archives a large selection of Roger Westcombe’s Big House Film Reviews:  click here for the full index of  the Big House Film Review Archive.

Our other main sections are:

litle caesarGangster Sagas:  This section at the moment offers a brief introduction to the gangster films of the 1930s; it includes discussion of the mythologised gangster in relation to American capitalism and of the links between gangster films and film noir.  The main examples considered are Little Caesar and Scarface.  We are keen to find contributors interested in providing more wide-ranging discussions of the genre.

Detective Films:  Philippa Gates surveys a large range of films, from the Hollywood detective series of the 1930s and the Basil Rathbone Holmes films to films of the 90s, like Seven and Silence of the Lambs.  Other films discussed here include the detective-centred films noirs of the 40s and 50s, police procedurals like Dragnet, vigilante cop films of the 60s and 70s, and the action-cop films of the 80s – discussed more fully in aseparate section.

Film Noir:  An overview of the development of film noir and literary noir in postwar America, with some discussion of the iconic figures of the genre and considers key elements in the definition of noir.  As with ganster films, we would be grateful for contributors interested in providing more wide-ranging discussions of the genre.  Supplementary articles by Roger Westcombe: What is This Thing Called Film Noir, Anyway; Domesticity That Never Sleeps: the Emergence of the Suburban Thriller;  The Road to Double IndemnityR

lacNeo Noir:  This section traces the development of neo-noir from the 1960s on; it considers such things as the charge that neo-noir is a form of postmodern nostalgia and the ways in which neo-noir films represent a ‘culture of consumption’.

Cop Action Films:  Charting the shift from the vengeful vigilante cop of the 1970s to the action-hero cop and retributive ‘musculinity’ of the 1980s, this section, by Philippa Gates, takes in the Dirty Harry, Rambo, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard films, and concludes with a discussion of changing images of masculinity in the 1990s. Supplementary article:  Philippa Gates Being a Buddy: The Black Detective on the Big Screenn

Female Detectives:  Philippa Gates on the role of the female detective, both personally and professionally. Gates analyses the female investigator’s struggles with balancing her dual roles as a woman and detective – for example, in films featuring female lawyers, women of action and crime scene investigators.

Classical Hollywood’s ‘Asian’ Detectives: Philippa Gates discusses the Asian detective, an immensely popular hero with film-going audiences during the 1930s and 40s. Her focus is on Charlie Chan, Mr Wong and Mr Moto.

Parody:  The classic detective story and hard-boiled fiction have attracted a wide range of parodic responses, both in literature and film. This section incorporates many varieties of parody and pastiche, including the postmodern parody/pastiche in the films of, for example, the Coen brothers, Tarantino and David Mamet.   

TV Series:  Vicky Munro’s introduction to TV representations of crime traces the rise of American cop shows and considers some of the issues that have come to the fore with the growth of ‘reality TV’ crime shows.

Roger Westcombe’s Big House Film Reviews:  An archive from the original Crimeculture site of more than 40 reviews of films noirs, both canonical and neo-noir.

The site also contains numerous articles on crime films.  Recent additions include, for example, pieces on:

Double IndemnityThe Postman Always Rings TwiceMildred PiercePulp Fiction and The Usual Suspects See also:  Lee Horsley, The Creation, Marketing and Contexts of Hollywood Crime Films