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American Gangster

Jul 10, 2017 | 0 comments

Jul 10, 2017 | Essays | 0 comments

American through Film/Paper about the American Gangster and How His Portrayal Reflects the Issues of the Time

Even though movies and films are a good source of entertainment for many Americans, it is evident that most movies are produced based on chronological events and the situations that the generations are facing. The writers of specific movies try to give and address the chronological accounts of events and situations at a particular time. Even though the stories and that actions may sometimes be characterized by exaggerations the deeper accounts of real happening and situations in the society remain upheld in the theme of the movies. (not sure what that means) By critically analyzing the movies, it is very possible to clearly understand the surrounding environment when the movie was created and the personal opinion of the producers on the situations

Despite being one of the famous movies in America, “American gangster” gives an important account of events in American society. It represents an important figure in American culture generally, gangster movies give an account of the world in conflict with the legitimate society. For many years, gangsters have been viewed differently. Others have to the negative side of events viewed gangsters as deviant individuals coming up together with intentions to cause havoc in the lives of other members of the society. On the other hand, other people have had a positive view of gangsters as a way of living and addressing the challenges that a particular group of people is facing.[1] Gangsters in America had emerged among the marginalized groups in America as a way of addressing their economic frustrations and social challenges.

The prohibition in the early 1920s led to the emergence of a new era of gangs who created criminal empires and cartels for supplying illegal drugs and alcohol. The films of 1930 gave a picture of criminally minded individuals willing to go to the furthest level possible to create their world of criminal operations to acquire material possessions and power. The film glorified the genuineness of these individuals who were willing to adopt this system that was controlled by corrupt businessmen and government officials. [2]

Public Enemy of 1931 is an excellent example of early gangster films from Warner Bros. The Public Enemy gives an account of prohibition gangsters from childhood through murderous, bootlegging adulthood and sudden sobering downfall. The film is based on a 300 page draft of an unpublished novel titled “beer and blood” written by two former street gangsters John Bright and Kubec Glasmon (needs citation). Bright and Glasmon were Bright witnesses (typo?) of gang rivalry in Chicago and witnessed series of Al Capone’s murderous actions. During this time, the stock market had crashed and people were struggling in the best way possible to meet their daily needs and make ends meet. The national unemployment levels skyrocketed and it was very difficult to root for protagonists who did whatever it takes to make their survival possible (this sentence goes against the argument of people relating to the gangster of this era. Their suffering and frustration led to the belief that only people outside the rules of “society” could make something of themselves). During the great depression, denoting gangsters as heroes symbolized the decay of American societies as well as the paranoia that the traditional values would not survive the economic crisis. [3]The majority of the American societies embarked on other means of survival and dealing with frustrations.  During this time the wealth lied in the hands of few people while the majority of Americans languished in poverty. The government was considered unjust by placing unjust regulations on ordinary citizens. Society needed people who could challenge the government’s regulations. Gangs began to emerge in America and within a short span of time grew to control various parts of the towns.

The video and computer games that correctly simulate the environment. film “public enemy” (films should be italicized Public Enemy) on the first script was tough, violent, and more realistic. However, the censorship codes were strictly enforced on the script. Although most of the violence it gain was removed from the script, the lead character is portrayed as sexually magnetic, cocky completely immoral, and emotionally brutal. However, the protagonist,  a cold-blooded tough racketeer begins his life, not as a criminal but as a young mischievous boy in pre-prohibition city streets whose early surroundings directly contribute to his development and evolvement into adulthood crime. [4]

Unlike other gangster movies, the enemy of the people (??)  examined detailed the root causes of criminality and deviant behavior clearly. Unfortunately, the violence and the NFL films, are the things he thinks about (Sollins et al 119). The CREMASTER film “public enemy” appeared to glamorize criminal behaviors and emphasized the high life enjoyed by criminals as portrayed by Joan Bondell hence the film hastened the efforts of Hollywood’s self-imposed production codes to strictly censor films with criminal and sexual subject matter that gave undesirable social figures or sexual subjects sympathetically or realistically.

In various ways, the public enemy clearly expresses the American psyche which rejects the qualities and the demands of modern life. Gangster films are socially antagonistic traditions directed to lower class and socially marginalized groups in America.

In 1933, the National Committee for the study of social values published their findings that gangster movies gave convicted criminals their early education (needs citation). Increased censorship in the 1930s  almost resulted in the departure of the gangster films, they did not disappear but changed considerably after 1935. “Hollywood movie production system was not very certain on how to present gangster in the light of the hays office moratorium on the gangster movies.”  Gangsters began converting to good guys

Many Americans identified with the film in various ways. Life had become very difficult for many Americans especially the minority groups during this time. Many Americans had resulted in gangs as survival means. The worst was that despite the emergence of gangs in America, there was competition among the gangs themselves often resulting in gang rivalry. The most powerful gang would survive.  The paragraph should be rewritten, hard to understand

The director of the film in his mind giving a chronological account of a gangster who rises to power but then drastically ends in despair wanted to give the audience the picture that despite how you thrive to power through gangs, the government will always bring you down

High Sierra (1941) presents a bridge from the classic gangster to the alienated protagonists. The film is acknowledged as one of the gangster pictures (what does that mean?) for the style and moral complexities. The film marks the waning of the 30s gangster’s protagonists in the forties as the film begins. High Sierra romanticizes the classical gangsters of the previous decades. He lives by code and still has honor and integrity in society. High Sierra was the last major film made before the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States to the light of World War II. The post-World War II introduced a new era of gangsters. The film gives a chronological account of the influence of greed and corruption. During this time in America, outlawed heroes and larger-than-life lawmen appeared and were being looked at by the public in response to certain situations. Such situations included unjust government regulations, the concentration of wealth in the hand of a particular few, and widespread poverty. During the great depression, United States witnessed unjust government regulations while wealth concentrated on few individuals while the larger populations languished in poverty. (you already said that about Public Enemy) In the early years of the depression, the government imposed a ban on alcohol in what was known as prohibition years. (Prohibition was introduced in the early ’20s, and the great depression is generally considered between 1929 and early ’40s) At the same time, a very small percentage of Americans controlled a high percentage of wealth in America. Due to extreme depression, many middle-class families succumbed to extreme poverty for the first time in their entire lives. On the side of the workers, the early ages of depression brought with it desperation and conflicts .various riots and unemployment protests arose. In the beginning, the government seemed incapable to solve many problems that affected the lives of ordinary middle-class citizens. [5]

 

In the middle of the great depression, with challenges with economic difficulties, and desperations, American societies needed heroes to outsmart the government ban on regulations on consumption of alcohol and usage of drugs. There should be a minimum set age limit where people can consume alcohol. To respond to this call, ethically? organized gangs in the ghettos which were associated with criminal activities organized themselves and began to supply the drugs. The organized gangs became powerful and by the middle 0f 1930s and early 1940s, the outlaws in the Midwest began robbing banks. The role of the federal government during this time was not only to deal with economic programs but also to enforce laws. The violent occurrences such as gangs’ rivalry, food riots in the streets of America were the hallmarks of the great depression

The film “High Sierra” psyched many Americans in various ways. (too casual) On the surface of the film, high sierra seems like a straight forward crime Humphrey Bogart is Roy Earle, a tough criminal trying to pull one last job. In the deeper sense, the film High Sierra is about a man’s failure to redeem himself and eventual acceptance of tragic destiny. The film depicts the cruel unforgiving nature of society. (how) The tough guy façade is something that Roy Earle develops as a result of the cruel harsh conditions around him and in this sense he represented many of the American men who have found themselves into criminal platforms simply due to the harsh environmental situations trying to provide a cold and lathery exterior to guard themselves against the pains and heartbreaks of daily life challenges. Roy’s weaknesses here represent the weakness of all men. His weakness is the desire to love and be loved in return even though Bogey  has  the sharp and sultry Ida Lupino he still wants Velma  the virgin, the innocent whom  he can truly start  a new life[6]

The movie has a wonderful feel. Roy seemed headed to emotional if not literal death and the joy relies on watching him trying to change his fate. Crime and gangster films are created along with the sinister actions of criminals and gangsters, they include; bank robbers, underworld figures, and hoodlums operating against the law stealing and killing their ways through life. In the 1940s a new type of crime thriller emerged, very dark and cynical. Criminal and gangster films fall under the category of post-world war film noir due to the similarities. Crime stories of this kind often give a life account of crime figures or crime victims. They further glorify the rise and fall of a particular criminal of a gangster in a personal power struggle with society and the law by giving an account of the rise and fall of a gangster. [7]

The film “The forces of evil” was a post-World War II classical gangster film   After World War II, people are transitioning into a more modern way of life.  They are moving out of the cities into the suburbs. The economy of the United States is thriving and people no longer relate to criminals and gangsters. The gangster’s films of 1950 take a nostalgic look at the classic gangsters. During this decade when the film forces of evil were released, the relationship between the United States of America and Russia was decaying due to the communist expansion. Various events had plunged America and Britain into the cold war. Communism is regarded as the “Real Enemy” and counterfeiters and smugglers were aiding the real public enemies.

The film “Forces of Evil” presents a statement about one’s need to preserve or regain personal integrity. Finding a balance between free speech and being labeled. The film exposes the number rackets but censorship prevented the film from showing how the racket worked. Twenty minutes of footage was cut before the film’s release. The number rackets fed on the nickel and dimes of the little people. Illegal clandestine “banks” operated the racket and were scattered throughout the big cities. In the film, the Hollywood production code prohibited glamorizing the gangster legend. John Huston’s script based on W.R Burnett’s novel was returned to Warner by the censors with more than forty objectionable references. Jack Warner however chosen to ignore the references in his attempts to protect the scripts of the story. The code however was strict on the ending. Gangster’s films, despite how sympathetic they might be at times had to pay for moral transgressions on the screen. In other words, death or life in prison was the only option.[8]

On the other hand, communists viewed capitalism as a common enemy that needed to be challenged. Two brothers Joe and Leo are great criminals but Leo’s lack of ambitions really frustrates Joe. Leo seems not ready to join the larger outfits, he has a certain degree of respect for the little people and eventually meets his death. On realizing the murder of his brother, Joe decides to seek revenge. In this case, the film highlights the struggle between the little guy and the soulless big business that is taking over. The film creator was questioned about their beliefs especially during the controversial period and cold war conflict between capitalist America and communist Russia. The producer John Garfield appeared before the committee in 1951. It was an experience that took its toll on his health. He died the following year. The director Abraham Polonsky was blacklisted and did not direct another movie for twenty years. (needs citation)

Forces of evil present a world hooked on corruption. Director Martin Scorsese refers to the film as a seminal influence on his own gangster dramas. (needs citation)  The movie star john Garfield is a corrupt lawyer whose face represents moral conflict Garfield is a selfish Wall Street lawyer who grew up on the streets. (rewrite the sentence so it makes sense) He is a product of Bronx street gangs but has had the opportunity and chance to rise to a place of undeniable importance.  Garfield’s “office in the clouds” as a result of the criminal mob who practically use him as their brains in a plot to gain control of the city’s small-time illegal gambling trade. Fixing the July 4th gambling racket so that the popular bet of 776 comes the winner. Joe and Ben Tucker plan to drive all the small-time numbers racketeers out of business when they are incapable of paying out winning bets

Abraham Polonsky makes a bitter comparison between the money-oriented corruptions undertaken by lawyers such as Joe with a more explicit graft of mobsters like Tucker. both of them refers to people who are not included in their scam as “suckers” and casual dismissal of ordinary people is seen in the film’s opening overhead shot of pedestrians.

Joe’s single attempt to reach out to the little man fails and results in jeopardizing the entire plan. Joe’s older brother who is sick operates a small-time racket and Joe is determined to bring him into Tucker’s scheme before his office is whipped out with the rest of the small change money rackets. Leo on the other hand has nothing to do with the scheme. The two brothers draw a line on the sand that leads to a bloody battle between the two brothers finally leading to disastrous bloody consequences [9]

According to Polansky, “the film was an examination of the sick souls of the modern man living within the political system. Capitalism causes major rifts between individuals in human society. (needs citation)The capitalist system drives people into corruption to stay alive.” The forces of evil are American business symbolized by Wall Street. Leo’s conversation with his wife stresses the point “I have been a businessman all my life and honest. I do not know what business is” Leo. “Well you have a garage, you had a real estate business” Sylvia “…. real estate business. Living from the mortgage, stealing credit like a thief and the garage-that was a business. Three cents overcharging on every gallon of gas, two cents for the chauffeur, and a penny for me. Penny for one thief a two cents for the other” Leo

It did not matter whether the business was small or big they were all corrupt. Doris is an example of that. At first, she is innocent and resists Joe’s advances. He becomes greatly impatient and tries his best to demean her. deep down her she has the same desires and it only takes a little pushing for those desires to surface and she breaks out of the shell.

The telephone in the film plays a symbolic meaning. It represents the connection between different worlds. These worlds can communicate with each other. The film has very little actions and departs from the typical shoot em up gangsters. It shows the connections between business and politics, business and crime. [10]

During this period, various events had plunged Britain and United States into a cold war with Russia. Stalin had ensured that the communist governments had come to power in all the countries of Eastern Europe by “salami statistics.” Russia said that Winston Churchill had declared war on them. American general George Marshall convinced congress to aid the fight to stop Europe from turning into communism by giving 17 billion dollars. When communists took power in Czechoslovakia, Stalin responded by setting up conform. The whole film represents an attack on capitalism. For example, for Polonsky the number of games to be played symbolized capitalism as a whole. The tension was growing between America and Russia even at the Yalta conference. This was represented in the film by the tension growing between Leo and Joe that ended bloodily. On the surface, the conference seemed successful but afterward, Churchill wrote to Roosevelt that the Soviet Union was becoming a threat to the free world.[11]

During the Potsdam conference, arguments openly emerged. Stalin had arrested the non-communist Polish leaders. America on the other hand knew that President Truman was very determined to resist Russians. In 1947, Stalin made sure that communist governments came to power in all countries in Eastern Europe. Russia took control over Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and East Germany.  On witnessing the Russian expansion, President Winston Churchill gave a speech on which he said that the countries of Eastern Europe should cut off by an iron curtain -was subjects to Soviet influence, totalitarianism, and governments. The Russian response on the other hand was that Winston had staged war against them. It was certain that there was a great rift between Russia and America. By the time the film forces of evil was produced, there was increased tension between communist Russia and capitalist America

During the early 1940s, the American psyche was dominated by the total war effort and all the contradictory feelings that come along with war times. The film evil forces contained classic noir crimes and moral ambiguity and were marked by its stylistic stark shadows and sense of claustrophobia- a mod that echoed the darker side of America at war. [12]The Americans had dedicated their efforts to the fight against communism. The Americans were struggling to their level best to maintain their integrity and identity as capitalists even though to the expanding communism, capitalism was a threat to social unity (hard to understand)

Many people identified with the film in various ways. During this time, with the expanding battle between communism and capitalism, many people wanted to hold on to their beliefs. On the other hand, America had just come out of the great depression and people were beginning to enjoy increased wages.  With the expanding capitalism. Many people who had come from poor backgrounds embarked on wealth accumulation. The strategy of accumulating wealth involved competition among people. Corruption was one of the major characteristics of the capitalization of wealth in capitalistic states. On the other hand, the heated arguments between capitalistic America and socialistic Russia had created an intense enmity in the hearts of many Americans.

The film producer of the “Forces of Evil” in his mind wanted people to understand clearly the effects that capitalism would bring to society. The competition that would occur between individuals trying to maximize their wealth. Capitalism would lead to corruption in the society and result in many social and economic conflicts due to competition over resources and the desire to accumulate as much as possible. The conversation between Leo and his wife clearly shows how the competition had emerged as a result of capitalism

“…. real estate business. Living from the mortgage, stealing credit like a thief and the garage-that was a business. Three cents overcharging on every gallon of gas, two cents for the chauffeur, and a penny for me. Penny for one thief a two cents for the other” Leo

“Forces of Evil” was Polansky’s first directing effort. The script of the film was written in collaboration with Ira Wolfert. Their first draft of the screenplay proved so hash that the censorial Breen office demanded that it was to be re-written. Though the film received mixed feelings upon its first release, the movie grew to popularity within a short span of time. Polonsky had an ability that brought the film forces of evil in the lame light. However, Polonsky never had the opportunity to continue thriving in the industry. Polonsky a member of the communist party fell out of favor in the industry when he was regarded as uncooperative during the HUAC trials in 1951 and was blacklisted from working in Hollywood. (citation) Garfield on the other hand was also viewed as uncooperative during the HUAC trials. He was suspected of being a communist or supportive of communist causes along with actors such Paul Muni

In conclusion, the prohibition in America had backfired in the 30s and 40s. Prohibition aimed at banning the sale of liquors as a crusade against moral evils. The big win during these prohibition times however landed the mob and Al Capone. People needed people who could fight against the regulations by the government which was considered unjust. On the other hand in the 30s, the great depression sent many Americans into poverty while few individuals remained in control of the nation’s wealth. The minority groups out of their frustrations began organizing themselves into gangs to encounter their economic frustrations and to rebel against the regulations they considered unjust. Gangs emerged as predators who prey on anyone whom they feel infringed on their rights

Gangster films give chronological accounts of particular people who through violence and illegal ways maneuver their ways in life. Crime stories of this kind often give a life account of crime figures or crime victims. They further glorify the rise and fall of a particular criminal of a gangster in a personal power struggle with society and the law by giving an account of the rise and fall of a gangster.  [13](Hard to understand what you are saying)

Bibliography

Mason, Fran, American gangster cinema; from “little Ceaser” to “pulp fiction” Basingstoke, Palgrave, Macmillan, 2002

Munby, Jonathan, Public enemies, Public Heroes: Screening the gangster from little  Ceaser to touch the evil, Chicago, University of Chicago Press,2009 ebook library  web 21 October 2014

Minntz, Steven and Randy Roberts, Hollywood’s America; twentieth-century America through film Chichester; Willey Backel 2010

Rafter, Nicole Hahn, shots in the mirror: crime films and society. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006

Roso, Eugene, Born to lose: the gangster film in America. New York, Oxford university press, 1978

Shadoian, Jack, Dreams dead ends: the American gangster film, Oxford. Oxford University Press2003.

David, Nicholas, Am (euginne 1978)American culture in the 1930s, 2008pg

[1]  Mason Fran, American gangster cinema; from “little Ceaser” to “pulp fiction” Basingstoke, Palgrave, Macmillan, 2002 page 88-96

[2] Mason, Fran, American gangster cinema; from “little Ceaser” to “pulp fiction” Basingstoke, Palgrave, Macmillan, 2002pg100-130

[3] Munby Jonathan, Public enemies, Public Heroes: Screening the gangster from little  Ceaser to touch the evil, Chicago, University of Chicago Press,2009 ebook library web 21 October 2014 pgs. 1-10

[4] Munby, Jonathan, Public enemies, Public Heroes: Screening the gangster from little  Ceaser to touch the evil, Chicago, University of Chicago Press,2009 ebook library  web 21 October 2014 pgs20-55

[5] Mintz, Steven, and Randy Roberts, Hollywood’s America; twentieth-century America through film, Chi Chester; Willey Backel,2010 pgs 186-210

[6] . Minntz, Steven and Randy Roberts, Hollywood’s America; twentieth-century America through film Chichester; Willey Backel 2010 pgs300-347

[7] Rafter Nicole Hahn, Shots in the mirror: crime films and society. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006pgs 1-53

[8] Rafter, Nicole Hahn, shots in the mirror: crime films and society. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006pgs67-87

[9] Rafter, Nicole Hahn, shots in the mirror: crime films and society. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, page 147

[10] Shadoian Jack, Dreams dead ends: the American gangster film, Oxford. Oxford University Press2003pgs 216-250

                 [11] Shadoian, Jack, Dreams dead ends: the American gangster film, Oxford. Oxford University Press2003pgs 267-315

[12] Roso Eugene, Born to lose: the gangster film in America. New York, Oxford university press, 1978 pgs 34-100

[13]Roso, Eugene, Born to lose: the gangster film in America. New York, Oxford university press, 1978 pgs 320-388

 

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