The Three films – Public Enemy (Wellman 1931,

The present dissertation attempted to analyse the aforesaid thirteen movies within the generic framework of the crime film. It appeared that all films narrated about a criminal act or illegal activity. Upon the content analysis of the plots, the films were classified into two groups.

It appeared that eleven films are arranged in linear plots (chronological order): The Public Enemy (Wellman 1931, USA); The Roaring Twenties (Walsh 1939, USA); Brighton Rock (Boulting 1947, UK); The White Heat (Walsh 1949, USA); Get Carter (Hodges 1971, UK); The Long Good Friday (Mackenzie 1980, UK); Goodfellas (Scorsese 1990, USA); Hana-bi (Kitano 1997, Japan); Brother (Kitano 2000, Japan/USA); Sexy Beast (Glazer 2000, UK); and Gangs of New York (Scorsese 2002, USA). Two films on the list happened to be arranged in nonlinear plots (chronological order): Gangster No.1 (McGuigan 2000, UK); and Pulp Fiction (Tarantino 1994, USA).

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The variable of the type of plot (linear versus non-linear) was treated as non-correlating to the country of shooting. Instead, the characteristic of linearity/non-linearity was more likely to associate with the period of production. The earliest films regardless of the country where they were made were structured according to the linear principle. Gangster No. 1 (2000), UK, and Pulp Fiction (1994), USA, displayed intentional breaches of chronological order and exuberant use of flashbacks.

The films on the list were also compared against the variable of characters’ typology. Upon the analysis of literature and film plots, three categories of the main characters were identified: an epic gangster, a man-on-the-run/a man-in-disguise; an avenger/persecutor. Three films – Public Enemy (Wellman 1931, USA), The Roaring Twenties (Walsh 1939, USA), and The Long Good Friday (Mackenzie 1980, UK) – fitted the frame of the ‘epic gangster’ category in regard to the type of the main character.

Four films – White Heat (Walsh 1949, USA), Brighton Rock (Boulting 1947, UK), Hana-bi (Kitano 1997, Japan), and Sexy Beast (Glazer 2000, UK) – featured the second type of characters, ‘a man-on-the-run/man-in-disguise’. Two films – Get Carter (Hodges 1971, UK) and Gangs of New York (Scorsese 2002, USA) – belonged to the third category, ‘an avenger/persecutor’. Three films – Brother, Gangster No. 1, and Goodfellas – were found to be synthetic in regard to the type of their characters. Pulp Fiction was analysed apart from the aforestated categories due to its postmodern non linear and complex nature.

The suggested categorisation was stated to be flexible since some of the films appeared to be ambiguous in regard to their character’s type and, therefore, entered several categories at once. Finally, a few remarks were made on the type of the criminal’s psyche in the crime movie. The genre utilises deep investigation of the criminal’s soul and mind for explanatory goals. All the films under analysis contained explanatory types of criminals. It was concluded that the concept of space was valuable for the criminal movie, as well as the concept of human speech.

After the shooting of Pulp Fiction in 1994 (Tarantino, USA), the criminal genre became synthetic, allusive and multilayered. The first crime films were the chronicles of the gangster’s career (The Public Enemy [Wellman 1931, USA] and The Roaring Twenties [Walsh 1939, USA]). At the next stage, the genre was more interested in psychological dramas with the noir colouring (Brighton Rock [Boulting 1947, UK] and The White Heat [Walsh 1949, USA]). The films of the 1970s-1980s explored the issues of violence on the screen and politics in social life (Get Carter [Hodges 1971, UK] and The Long Good Friday [Mackenzie 1980, UK]).

The later films regardless of the region, where they were made, assimilated many generic traits from the early examples of the crime genre as well as developed new methods of fictionalising crime and criminals.


BBC. Film Across The BBC [online]. Available from: http://www. bbc. co. uk/film/ [Accessed 7 September 2006]. BISKIND, P. , November 1994. “An Auteur Is Born”, Premiere, p. 100. Britmovie [online]. Available from: [Accessed 7 September 2006].