lecture 3: criminology on film/film noir vito corleone arrives an orphan in new york professor aaron...

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  • Lecture 3: Criminology on Film/Film NoirVito Corleone arrives an orphan in New YorkProfessor Aaron Baker

  • In the Last LectureProhibition Volstead Act 1920-33 Economic Depression 1929-41Working class/Ethnic Gangster CritiqueCensorship

  • In this LectureHow Films show causes of crime and violenceFilm Noir

  • Motives/CausesFilm can show: Motives (e.g. via flashbacks)Environments that cause crimeReflect/influence our ideas about why crime happensA flashback in The Killers 1946

  • Causes for Crime Change1930s Gangster films: environment, inequalityLate 40s-early 60s: psychological reasons; Psycho (1960)

  • Reasons1960s return to environmental causes of 30s; Bonnie and Clyde (1967)1980s drugs major factor; Scarface (1983)

  • Raftner: 3 General Causes for Crime in MoviesEnvironmentDesire for better lifeBad biology/mental illness

  • Many films show criminals as good people driven to crime by conditions of their lives

    Normal at StartMartin Sheen, Sissy Spacek in Badlands 1974

  • Bad Environment .

    Filmmakers favoriteAllows them to encourage our identification with characters

  • Raftner:The bad-environment explanation takes the blame off criminals, enabling scriptwriters to glorify them, or at least to portray them as normal men and women, sinned against as well as sinning. (p. 54)

  • ClipIn this clip Wilson (Terrence Stamp) talks about his poor background and experience in jail in a way that charms a DEA agentand us!

    Clip #1

  • Aspiration Other films attribute crime to:Desire for a better lifeThieves who take pride in their criminal skills Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek in After the Sunset, 2004

  • What Crime ShownIdeologicalMovies emphasize murderMichael Welsh:24,000 homicides56,000 workers died; injuries/diseases from job Street crime $4 billion yearWhite Collar $200 billion year (Rafter, 62)Serial killers rareOveremphasis on mental illness as cause

  • BiologyPaul Muni in Scarface: 32 is lustful, violent, apelikea throwback to earlier evolutionary stage

  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974:Sawyer family insane killers

  • Favorite Diagnosis PsychopathologyPhotogenicIntriguing, even charmingBut no conscience/insane

  • German ExpressionismOriginated use of movie psychosisTortured mind expressed in fictional worldMise-en-scene dark/distortedThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920

  • Film NoirAdapts expressionism to American filmCrime stories in dangerous urban locales, ruled by desire and violence

  • Noir ElementsA nightmarish visual style drawn from German ExpressionismFemmes fatales (deadly women), who manipulate the male investigatorA surreal narrative logic more about intense desire than rational logic

  • Critic Robert SklarNoir films seem contained, enclosed, shadowy explorations of an interior landscape of mind and emotion quite novel in the extroverted American cinema.

  • Noir Films Present Pessimistic view human natureControl with sex and violenceCrime cant be contained Basic Instinct 1992

  • Double IndemnityIn this clip Walter Neffs (Fred MacMurray) desire for Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanyck) leads him to commit murder for her.

    Clip #2

  • Writer Raymond Chandler/ Director Billy WilderNeffs and Phylliss crime from environmentPassion/violence response to:Boring conformist job and marriageInsurance Company money is all that matters

  • Throughout Double IndemnityDisastrous fate in language of modern industrial lifeWalter and Phyllis together straight down the lineMurder on train using carWalter: the machinery had started to move and nothing could stop it

  • Consumption Consumption alsoConformistMeaninglessWalter and Phyllis like robots in the supermarket

  • Law and OrderMost American films present crime asExplainableControlled by authority figures (detectives, police) Dirty Harry 1971

  • Rational InvestigationBefore noir, 1930s detective films had featured smart, upstanding detectives who solved crimes with elaborate verbal logic.

  • But Noir and What Rafter Calls Critical Films . . . Crime: PervasiveOut of control, or Unexplained Forget it Jake, its Chinatown Jack Nicholson doesnt get justice in Chinatown 1974

  • Movies Cause Crime?Boyz N the Hood (1991)Audience violence; 2 deadTaxi Driver (1975)John Hinkley Jr. shot President Reagan in 1980

  • Evidence Media violence does increase aggressive behaviorShort in durationNot all viewers influenced

  • Seung-Hui Cho murders at Virgina TechInfluence of violent films?Similarities btw photos Cho sent to NBC and scenes from 2003 South Korean film 'Oldboy' were spotted by Virginia Tech Prof. Paul Harris. There was no reference to the film in Cho's notes or messages.

  • A.O. Scott/NY TimesLike guns, it seems certain movies in the wrong hands can pose a threat to public safetyMillions entertained by spectacles of murder, but return to peaceful, sane lives

  • Raftner:

    Movie violence causes pleasure more than violenceViewers enjoy seeing violence controlled, Justice reestablishedDont want to emulate movie violence

  • SummaryFilm causes for crime:EnvironmentBiology or psychologyBetter lifeFilm Noir:Desire; crime out of controlEffect of film violenceEncourages those inclined to violenceMost viewers want violence controlled

  • Next Lecture: Explicit ViolenceEnd of the Production Code

  • End of Lecture 3

    Jennifer Lopez as Federal Agent Karen Sisco in Out of Sight 1998