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I Died a Million TimesGangster Noir in Midcentury America$
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Robert Miklitsch

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043611

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043611.001.0001

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From the Syndicate to the Classic Heist Picture

From the Syndicate to the Classic Heist Picture

(p.1) Introduction From the Syndicate to the Classic Heist Picture
I Died a Million Times

Robert Miklitsch

University of Illinois Press

The introduction proffers some cultural, political, and historical contexts for the emergence of the three subgenres of gangster noir discussed in the body of the book: the syndicate, rogue cop, and heist pictures. The first part examines the impact of the Kefauver Crime Commission on early ’50s syndicate films such as The Enforcer (1950). The second part introduces the rogue cop figure via a representative transitional film, John Cromwell’s The Racket (1951), and then turns to the ideological contradictions--“good cop/bad cop”--associated with the Dragnet phenomenon, a paradoxical configuration illustrated by Nicholas Ray’s influential rogue cop picture, On Dangerous Ground (1952). Part 3 surveys the history of the heist movie from Raoul Walsh’s High Sierra (1941) to White Heat (1949), detailing how the prototypical heist picture, John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle, not only draws on Walsh’s films as well as Robert Siodmak’s The Killers (1946) and Criss Cross (1949) but also provides the template for later “caper” movies like Odds against Tomorrow (1959).

Keywords:   gangster noir, syndicate, rogue cop, heist picture, Dragnet, The Racket, On Dangerous Ground, High Sierra, The Killers, Criss Cross

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