Category Archives: 1980s American crime films

Book Review: We Are the Mutants – The Battle for Hollywood from Rosemary’s Baby to Lethal Weapon

Is there anything new left to say about the period of American film production from the late 1960s to the early 1980s?

This is the period that began with the so-called ‘New Hollywood’ and continued with its collapse under the weight of its own cinematic hubris and excess, bumped along considerably by the 1977 release of Star Wars, after which the blockbuster franchise, with its lucrative pre-sold merchandising deals, evolved into the majority of what now passes for the American film industry. Of course, this is just one facet of the story. Influencing this trajectory was Vietnam, the rise and fall of the counterculture, the election of Ronald Reagan and the rise of neoliberalism.

To say something different about all of this is a tough task. But it is is precisely the aim of We are the Mutants: The Battle for Hollywood from Rosemary’s Baby to Lethal Weapon. That the book largely succeeds in its mission is due to a quality I initially found hard to define until I hit on a way to do so by way of a comparison. The book reminds me of the work of British documentary maker Adam Curtis, particularly his most recent effort, I Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World.… Read more

Register for on-line NoirCon 2022

Those of you who have been following my site for a while now may have seen me post about NoirCon previously. A celebration of all things noir in film, literature, art and anything else you care to mention, NoirCon was previously held as a face-to-face gathering in Philadelphia, but has been cancelled for the last few years, due to Covid and other problems.

Well, now it is back, this year as an online gathering.

NoirCon will take place Friday-Saturday, October 21-23, EST. Virtual NoirCon 2022 will be held on the Accelevents platform. An all-access pass covering the entire conference is $36. Registration includes access to the Accelevents platform for 30 days after the event, so attendees can re-watch events or catch up on panels they missed.

NoirCon is hands down the best literary/arts festival I have attended. The exact program is not live yet but whatever the fevered mind of NoirCon organiser Lou Boxer has dreamt up in terms of a program, I have no doubt it’ll be good, including new events and events that would have been held in previous cancelled versions of the program. So if you have any interest in noir at all and are able to make the time zone work for you, you should definitely register at this link.… Read more

10 underappreciated American neo-noirs of the early 1970s

The domestic blowback of the Vietnam War. The sleaze and corruption of Watergate. The incipient rollback of the counterculture and many gains of the 1960s. Economic recession. The upheaval and uncertainty in the 1970s may have been tough on America’s collective psyche, but it resulted in some incredibly good crime cinema, particularly prior to Jaws in 1975, which helped to usher in the culture of the cinematic blockbuster.

And while I will happily admit to being a due paying member of the First-half-of-the-1970s-was-a-great-period-of-American-crime-cinema-fan-club, it does strike me that we tend to focus on the same handful of films from this period over and over. Yes, The French Connection and Shaft (1971), The Godfather (1972), The Friends of Eddie Coyle and The Long Goodbye (1973), and Chinatown (1974), are all masterful neo noirs that in some way enlarged the culture’s notion of what crime cinema could be.

But the wellspring of American neo noir on the screen in the first half of the decade runs very deep, and it pays major viewing dividends to explore it more widely. My latest piece for the US site CrimeReads looks at ten underappreciated neo noirs from the first half of the seventies that are worth your time. You can read the piece in full on the CrimeReads site via this link.Read more

Ten underappreciated American noirs of the late 1950s and 1960s

While preparing for a recent appearance on a podcast episode about John Boorman’s 1967 film, Point Blank, I thought a lot about American noir cinema of the very late 1950s and the 1960s. I find it interesting that so many of the films made during this time remain unknown and underappreciated relative to the classic film noir period, generally regarded as beginning with John Huston’s 1941 classic The Maltese Falcon and ending in 1958, and the body of American crime cinema known as neo noir, which took off in the early 1970s. My latest piece for the US site CrimeReads is on this strange, partly forgotten period of American noir cinema that came between classic film noir & 1970s neo-noir, and 10 great underrated/unknown films that were released during it. You can read it in full on the CrimeReads site here.Read more

Projection Booth podcast #546: Point Blank (1967)

It was a great pleasure to be able to perform co-hosting on the Projection Booth podcast for the second time in as many months, this time alongside my friend Jedidiah Ayres, on an episode about one of my favourite crime films, John Boorman’s Point Blank (1967). In addition to the film and how it figured in the careers of Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson and Boorman, we talked about its place in 1960s American crime cinema, the film’s take on violence, and how it related to it literary source material the character of the hardboiled master thief Parker who appeared in the books of Richard Stark aka Donald Westlake. We also spent a fair bit of time talking about other cinematic adaptations of Parker, particularly Brian Helgeland’s 1999 film Payback – which was based on the same 1962 Parker book as Point Blank, The Hunter – and Payback’s various versions. It is a great episode and you can listen to it in full at the Projection Booth site via this link.… Read more