GANGSTER WRAP

I trust that you remember my March 30 post titled HOLLYWOOD, DEAD LEFT ON VINE. If not, maybe you could use a nudge from Police Lt. Frank Drebin to refresh your memory:

Maybe now you remember: my March 30 opus delicti distinguished between film noir (theme of that post) and gangster movies (this post’s theme), while allowing for crossover in films like WHITE HEAT (classified as film noir in one book, and gangster film in another). To anyone not ‘into’ such films, these thorny details may strike one as nothing more than a distinction without a difference….but I’ll assume you aren’t “anyone,” because I’ve got a job to pull — I mean, a post to write — and the subject ain’t roses.

That’s odd. I could have sworn the subject was not roses.

Wait a shrouded minute! Now I remember — the subject was supposed to be gangster movies. My bad. Sorry for the hold up.

In the introduction to his book CLASSIC GANGSTER FILMS, by (appropriately enough) Robert Bookbinder, he writes: “The gangster film has always been one of the staples of the American cinema. Though there were several motion pictures with a gangster theme produced as far back as the silent era, the genre did not really begin to flourish until the thirties, when it reigned throughout the decade as one of the public’s favorite kinds of “escapist” entertainment. Depression-era audiences responded strongly to all the action, violence and romance, and were more than willing to get caught up in the on-screen exploits of Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. In a sense, the movie gangster, with his rebellious breaking of society’s rules and regulations, and his aggressive drive to “get somewhere” regardless of consequences, became something of a hero to filmgoers of the period.”

It is worth noting that, although the gangster film by no means passed completely out of the picture, its most productive period (1930 to 1941-42) led to the era of classic film noir (1941-59)….which began with THE (never-surpassed) MALTESE FALCON. The above three stars were equally without rival in both genres.

Bookbinder’s book binds together the above transition, providing a fascinating look back at 45 gangster films (several overlapping into film noir), complete with credits, cast, commentary, photos and synopsis for each film, ranging from LITTLE CAESAR in 1930 to BONNIE AND CLYDE in 1967 and THE BROTHERHOOD in 1969. Of the latter, Bookbinder states: “It was not especially successful, and it has been almost completely overshadowed in film history by the more expensive and elaborate Godfather films of the early seventies. The picture deserves a better fate….what a truly entertaining gem it is.”

Now, I will admit that, in general, I am not as big a fan of gangster films as I am of film noir. I have an affinity for the more tangled and convoluted plots (in most cases) of the latter, compared to the more macho and less sophisticated gangster films….but then, “sophisticated” is not a term one normally associates with gangsters — so, by Sam, let’s call a spade a Spade. It’s not a bum rap.

But there is one bailiwick in which gangster films win hands down — I mean, hands up! (ha ha) — and that is in gangster film spoofs such as the all-time classic, SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959), which lost out to (would you believe?) BEN-HUR in practically every Academy Award category for that year. Oh, well — nobody’s perfect. 😦

And that’s a wrap.

 

 

Advertisements

14 comments on “GANGSTER WRAP

  1. linnetmoss says:

    According to Variety, Liam Neeson is on board to play Sam Spade in a new movie. He’s not the actor I would have thought of, but I’ll give him a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      Haven’t seen much of Neeson since SCHINDLER’S LIST (I don’t keep up with the current movie scene much anymore), but unless he’s aged really well in the last 24 years, he seems a bit long in the tooth for Sam Spade. I, on the other hand, would be perfect for the part of Methuselah if they decide to make a movie about him.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Don Frankel says:

    The Gangster films live on of course and some were even funny. Not ‘Some Like It Hot’ funny but still funny. Funny how you might ask?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. arekhill1 says:

    Has anyone ever done a gangster film in total “Airplane” style? Bet it would be a hoot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Groaned my way down through the comments to “Leave a Reply” primarily to make sure I said thanks for the HOT clip. One of my favorites. The only possible reason it lost out to Ben Hur was that the Academy voters were “not very bright” that year! (always love MM – another severely under-rated talent, IMHO)

    I vote with you on Noir vs. Gansta’ btw. Another great post.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mél@nie says:

    @”Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart…” – holy Molly!!! THE Dream-team, by excellence… 🙂 btw, Edward G. Robinson was born in Romania, like me… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. mitchteemley says:

    I never get tired of watching Some Like it Hot.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s