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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 Big Caper

The Big Caper

(p.182) 8 The Big Caper
I Died a Million Times

Robert Miklitsch

University of Illinois Press

The Brooklyn armored car robbery, which occurred on August 21, 1934, not only represented the “nation’s biggest cash heist at the time” but also provided the source material for Richard Fleischer’s Armored Car Robbery (1950), a B picture that was released the very same day as the acknowledged prototypical heist film, The Asphalt Jungle. Although the heist picture could not, and did not, crystallize as a genre until 1950 because the Production Code expressly forbid filmmakers from showing the preparation and commission of heists, the competition represented by television and the 1948 “divorcement” decree forced the motion picture industry to find new ways to attract audiences. One strategy was to continue to produce B movies. If Armored Car Robbery demonstrates the vitality of B movies before the majors decided to cease production of them in 1951 and The Killing (1956) represents the appeal of “low” crime genres such as the “caper” movie for aspiring auteurs like Stanley Kubrick, Plunder Road (1957) testifies to the rise of independent production and the sort of niche markets favored by young adults hungry for more daring cinematic fare than previously had been available.

Keywords:   B movie, Gangster, film noir, heist, caper, Production Code, crime film, Armored Car Robbery, The Killing, Plunder Road

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