By Barry Forshaw
Presenting a social heritage of British crime movie, this booklet makes a speciality of the ideas utilized in order to deal with extra radical notions surrounding type, politics, intercourse, delinquency, violence and censorship. Spanning post-war crime cinema to present-day "Mockney" productions, it contextualizes the movies and identifies vital and overlooked works.
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Extra resources for British Crime Film: Subverting the Social Order
Political insights, for instance, function better when integrated into commercial narrative strictures, but if there is a lesson to be learned from viewings of the genre, it is that there is everything to play for in extracting from these films something more than the simple entertainment ethos. An air of disillusionment was to replace the pulse-racing qualities of the more straightforward entertainments in Alberto Cavalcanti’s They Made Me a Fugitive (1947). Cavalcanti was (in his day) one of the unsung glories of the British cinema, producing quite the most chilling episode (that involving Michael Redgrave and a malevolent 30 British Crime Film ventriloquist’s dummy) in the Ealing classic Dead of Night, but burnishing his impressive filmic credentials with such strong pieces as They Made Me a Fugitive, a crime film sporting a gritty verisimilitude that instantly sets it apart from most synthetic-seeming product of the day.
In the earlier days of the British cinema (from the 1930s onwards), working-class audiences were happy to identify with middle-class protagonists (played, typically, by such well-spoken, reined-in actors as Robert Donat) before a new breed of more proletarian-seeming actors changed the expectations of British viewers. A filmmaker prepared to accept this prelapsarian, middle-class attitude was himself closer to the working-class ethos (with a family background in ‘trade’): Alfred Hitchcock, who was yet to cultivate his creepily avuncular public image and whose work (even as a young man) quickly established itself as sui generis.
But on the few occasions when these craftsmen discussed their craft, they usually echoed the modest ambitions of their American counterparts. Their principal job (at least insofar as they were prepared to characterise it) was to simply entertain or (putting it more crassly) to simply earn their pay cheques Between Left and Right: Politics and Individuals 45 by delivering what the producers and much-feared owners of the circuits required for the omnivorous commercial maw. Certainly, ideology and particular social agendas were not a prerequisite – although it might be argued that the statements filmmakers from the 1940s to the 1960s made were rather disingenuous, it is possible to detect the sound of axes being ground.
British Crime Film: Subverting the Social Order by Barry Forshaw