Shots in the Mirror: Crime Films and Society [NOOK Book]

Overview

Movies play a central role in shaping our understanding of crime and the world generally, helping us define what is good and bad, desirable and unworthy, lawful and illicit, strong and weak. Crime films raise controversial issues about the distribution of social power and the meanings of deviance, and they provide a safe space for fantasies of rebellion, punishment, and the restoration of order.

In this first comprehensive study of its kind, ...
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Shots in the Mirror: Crime Films and Society

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Overview

Movies play a central role in shaping our understanding of crime and the world generally, helping us define what is good and bad, desirable and unworthy, lawful and illicit, strong and weak. Crime films raise controversial issues about the distribution of social power and the meanings of deviance, and they provide a safe space for fantasies of rebellion, punishment, and the restoration of order.

In this first comprehensive study of its kind, well-known criminologist Nicole Rafter examines the relationship between society and crime films from the perspectives of criminal justice, film history and technique, and sociology. Dealing with over 300 films ranging from gangster and cop to trial and prison movies, Shots in the Mirror concentrates on works in the Hollywood tradition but also identifies a darker strain of critical films that portray crime and punishment more bleakly.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In a lucid analysis that begins with "The History of Crime Films" by Drew Dodd, Rafter (law, policy, and society program, Northeastern Univ.) examines how crime films reflect and shape real life. She focuses on criminology in crime films, cop films, courtroom films, prison and execution films, crime film heroes, and the future. Predicting that demographic changes will dramatically modify content and style, she paints a rosy picture of how independent filmmakers and entrenched studio executives alike will create tighter, more meaningful crime films. The most significant crime movies are identified and/or discussed, with the exceptions of Point Blank (1967) and Impulse (1990). Some readers will argue that "cop" movies began not with Dirty Harry (1971) but rather with The Naked City (1948). Designating Crime a category, not a genre, and including such crossover films as The Wild Bunch, The Last Detail, and RoboCop, Rafter could also have investigated why criminality infests so many modern comedies. Useful notes are included. Recommended for film/performing arts collections in public and academic libraries.--Kim R. Holston, American Inst. for Charity Property Casualty Underwriters, Malvern, PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
paper: 0-19-512983-0 A sprawling but shortsighted survey of 300 crime films that details sub-genres and character types but offers limited aesthetic analysis and little appreciation for the industry. After an acceptable introduction positing the basic truth that crime films both `reflect our ideas about fundamental . . . issues` and `shape the ways we think about [them],` Rafter (Law, Policy, and Society Program/Northeastern Univ.) hands the first chapter of her study to doctoral candidate Drew Todd. It's a mistake, because Todd's `The History of Crime Films` undercuts authorial command with bland observation and callow generalizations about actors and eras. Worse still are his inaccuracies, such as the contention that film noir was needed to bring `superb craftsmanship and technique` to an American cinematography built on `simpler point-and-shoot methods.` (So much for Freund, Toland, and Howe—all active in the 1930s.) Rafter continues, with a full (if partly problematic) survey of the genre, tracing movie criminology, varieties of crime-movie hero, courtroom and prison films, and the future of the genre, among other subjects. Pleasingly, the book brims with variety—this may be the only film book that cites the protagonists of Falling Down, The Last Seduction, and The Godfather in one sentence. But while many of her conclusions about the genre's appealing safety and increasing pessimism are sound, some specific calls raise questions. Dirty Harry Callahan was a department pain, not an `ideal cop`; mid-century courtroom dramas did not necessarily take a `generally uncritical perspective on the judicial system`; action heroes do not always need to examine their dark psychestogain depth; the homosexual future of The Shawshank Redemption principals is not clear. And must all academics disdain Hollywood and proclaim that independent `critical` films are better ("Roadrunner to the blockbuster's Godzilla,` as Rafter would have it)? While this book fills a niche in the market and provides admirable coverage, it lacks the human insight or delight for the medium that could make it a transcendent critical work. Warshow still stands alone.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198029731
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/20/2000
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,230,204
  • File size: 923 KB

Meet the Author


Nicole Hahn Rafter is Professor in the Law, Policy, and Society Program at Northeastern University.

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Table of Contents


1. The History of Crime Films, J. Andrew Todd, Jr.

2. Why They Went Bad: Criminology in Crime Films

3. Cop Films

4. Courtroom Films--with Charles Alexander Hahn

5. Prison and Execution Films

6. The Heroes of Crime Films

7. The Future of Crime Films

Appendix: Films Cited with Release Dates

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