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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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The Combination

The Combination

(p.23) 1 The Combination
I Died a Million Times

Robert Miklitsch

University of Illinois Press

Unlike a seminal syndicate picture film such as The Enforcer (1950), which is set in New York City and is stylistically dark, Joseph Newman’s 711 Ocean Drive (1950) is a paradigmatic West Coast gangster noir, reveling in the golden light for which Southern California is famous. The film 711 Ocean Drive is only one in a series of ’50s crime pictures whose focus, whether deep or shallow, is on organized crime in the octopus-like guise of the syndicate. If other syndicate films such as The Captive City (1952) developed as a response to the Kefauver hearings, this development becomes, in time, a concern with wider issues. Thus, in The Big Combo (1955), the dynamic representation of female sexuality encompasses an equally dynamic depiction of homosexuality. More generally, if in The Big Combo Joseph Lewis uses the syndicate film to explore the political-libidinal unconscious of mid-century America, his film is less a vehicle for the sort of social critique of organized crime that informs 711 Ocean Drive and The Captive City than an exposé of the psychopathology of everyday life.

Keywords:   Syndicate, organized crime, Kefauver, big combo, gangster, film noir, 711 Ocean Drive, The Big Combo, The Captive City

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