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Film and literature: The case of crime fiction

Parent categories: crime - film

Crime Films (2002) - Thomas Leitch [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Related: adventure - crime - crime fiction - detective - gangster - giallo - Gaston Leroux - Edgar Allan Poe - film noir - mystery - noir - pulp fiction - SÚrie Noire - thriller - Edgar Wallace

Crime fiction and the motion picture industry have complemented each other well over the years. Both cater to the need of the average audience to escape into an idealist world, where the good reaps the rewards, and the bad incur their punishment. Adaptations of crime fiction into films have been hugely successful.

The beginning of the 20th century saw the arrival of film as a new medium. By and large, what people wanted to watch on the screen did not differ from what they expected to see on the stage or read in short stories and novels: the good and the bad things in life (clearly separated from each other); virtue and vice; human prowess and human weakness; sin and redemption; and, probably more than anything else, poetic justice, or iustitia commutativa, as it is called according to Aristotle, with everyone getting what they deserve. In this respect, the cinema has always served as a means of escape from real life, though a temporary one. This escapist function of both literature and film did not change substantially in the course of the 20th century: One still feels uncomfortable if at the end of a film the "bad guy" gets away with all his evil doings, if order is not restored, if justice does not succeed in the end. Subconsciously, an average human feels that if the wicked character is not punished, the film comes too close to reality and makes the person remember, rather than forget his inadequate life. The crime film has thus been a popular genre in the 20th century. Crime films have been generally adapted from other forms of literature rather than written directly for the screen. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_film [Jul 2005]

Crime Films (2002) - Thomas Leitch

Crime Films (2002) - Thomas Leitch [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

first sentence:
"The crime film is the most enduringly popular of all Hollywood genres, the only kind of film that has never once been out of fashion..." (more)

Review
"Leitch makes his case, and provides a structure through which any crime film--and, really, any film with a criminal, victim, and avenger--can be studied. Such a structure is never more valuable than now." Erik Lundegaard, Film Quarterly "No film critic writes more clearly, in a style unencumbered by jargon. Even the photo captions are unusually perceptive and amusing. Highly recommended." Choice

Book Description
Focusing on ten films that span the range of the twentieth century, Thomas Leitch traces the transformation of three figures common to all crime films: the criminal, the victim and the avenger. He shows how the distinctions among them become blurred throughout the course of the century, reflecting and fostering a deep social ambivalence towards crime and criminals. The criminal, victim and avenger characters effectively map the shifting relations between subgenres (such as the erotic thriller and the police film) within the larger genre of crime film.

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