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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 Thin Blue Line

The Thin Blue Line

Chapter:
(p.116) 5 The Thin Blue Line
Source:
I Died a Million Times
Author(s):

Robert Miklitsch

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252043611.003.0006

Despite the emphasis on the utter ubiquity of the underworld in the syndicate picture, one of the ironies of the subgenre is a certain “surplus of the law” in the chimerical shape of the organization. From this perspective, the rogue cop film constitutes a dialectical response to the totalitarian disposition of the syndicate picture. In a prototypical rogue cop film like Where the Sidewalk Ends, the problem represented by the syndicate is located in the protagonist’s unresolved relationship to his dead father, but in The Big Heat (1953) police detective Dave Bannion must defend the family and everything it represents--the ’50s suburban American Dream--against the violence-backed interests of the mob. If other working-class cops such as Chris Carmody in Rogue Cop (1954) are driven by sex, Webb Garwood in The Prowler (1951) and Barney Nolan in Shield for Murder (1954) are motivated by the desire for sex and money. In both The Prowler and Shield for Murder, the law of capital returns with the force of the repressed, and the bad cop becomes an especially perverted instance of possessive individualism.

Keywords:   American Dream, rogue cop, money, sexuality, gangster, crime film, The Prowler, The Big Heat, Shield for Murder

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