Warshow

March 24, 2010

In the reading “Gangster as Tragic Hero” by Robert Warshow, he tries to discuss that one of the reasons filmmakers use gangsters in the film.  One is to create a social culture. By 1955 the United States was living in a society with commodities, especially in the big cities.  The films need to somehow show the culture at the moment.  Also, Warshow mentions that cowboy movies are dedicated to American history to set the historical values.  Gangster movies set the values of the future.  Most importantly, the idea of using gangsters in the film will always result in a good profit in the box office. The importance of the gangster film has an impact to the emotions of the audience.  It also gives the foreign audience a wrong portrait of America.  Gangster movies are also used to balance the interpretation of what society is about when the moral can be uncertain, and the human desire to become rich and famous is more important than getting the money legally.  Warshow writes the gangster film “is also, and primarily, a creature of the imagination.  The real city, one might say, only produces criminals; the imaginary city produces the gangster” (578).  Warshow concludes that a gangster film has some relationship to Shakespeare’s plays because the villain possesses more intensity in his character and he is dramatically strong.  The villain forces the audience to look closer to him regardless of the fact that they may not be the main character.   The only failure that a gangster may have is death as the ultimate punishment or repentance for his own unlawful life in the film.

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