Timeline of British Crime Films of the 20th Century
British Crime Films Of The 20th Century 1910-1920 – WW1 (1914-1918), Depression, Unemployment, men out in France Fighting. 1911 – A Burglar For one Night (Bert Haldane) Silent Film Deals with unemployment (A problem at the time) A man fired from his job, turns to crime but is ‘rescued’ by his lover. Due to the war, the British crime film industry slowed down a little. People didn’t want to be reminded of the harshness of real life but wanted to be taken away from the war and real life therefore, crime films didn’t properly restart until the late 20’s thanks to Alfred Hitchcock. 920-1930 – The Great War had ended and things were looking better for Britain as unemployment and poverty decreased during the 20’s. 1927 – The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (Hitchcock) Silent the first true ‘ Hitchcock film’ About a man thought guilty by the police to be the killer of his sister amongst other beautiful women but is in fact innocent and is trying to kill the killer himself. A mob try an attack him thinking he’s the killer but the real killer is caught just in time for him to be spared.
He and his lover live happily ever after. 1929 – Blackmail (Hitchcock) Thriller drama first truly British ‘talkie film’ but began as a silent film beautiful blonde accidentally kills rapist. A man knows she’s involved and blackmails her into telling the police. He gets blamed (due to his criminal record), chased and dies while she is left innocent. 1930-1940 – British crime film prospered and different formats of film became popular, especially the ‘private investigator’ film including the visualisation of the Sherlock Holmes Mysteries. 940-1950 – When WW2 was declared in 1939, instead of stopping altogether crime films adapted with films like, 1941 – Cottage to let (Asquith) A spy film Set in World War II Scotland, its plot concerns Nazi spies trying to kidnap an inventor. 1945 – Waterloo Road (Gilliat) An AWOL soldier returns to south London to save his wife from the advances of a philandering draft-dodger As the immediate post-war period attention focused on gangs that had evolved in the chaos of the urban home front. 1947 – Brighton Rock (Boulting) ilm noire This drama film centres on the activities of a gang of assorted criminals and, in particular, their leader A psychopathic young hoodlum known as “Pinkie” The film’s main thematic concern is the criminal underbelly evident in inter-war Brighton. 1947 – Hue and Cry (Charles Crichton) A vivid portrait of a London still showing the damage of World War II. London forms the backdrop of a crime-gangster plot which revolves around a working-class children’s street culture and children’s secret clubs. 950-1960 – focus shifted again in the 50’s where it looked at how youth crime was on the rise. 1953 – Cosh boy (Gilbert) 1960-1970 – as organised crime became a reality in Britain the crime film shifted on the activities of criminal gangs and also was starting to present the criminal of the film as a hero 1967 – Robbery ( Yates) follows a gang performing the ‘great train robbery’ The film follows their POV as the police try and hunt them down 1969 – The Italian Job (Collinson) gang of British thieves take on Europe in order to preserve British superiority and honour 1970-1990 – Organised crime films still retained their popularity until the late 90’s where focus began to shift again. Until then crime films focusing on gang crimes remained popular be it with different themes like prostitution, IRA and the Irish civil war or living in an urban lifestyle. 1971 – Get Carter (Hodges) 1980 – The long Good Friday (Mackenzie) 1986 – Mona Lisa (Jordan) 1990 – The Krays (Medak) 1996 – Small Faces (MacKinnon)
Late 90’s – the ordinary ‘working-class’ criminal came back into focus shortly after this that addressed the victim-criminal and the career-criminal. 1996 – Trainspotting (Boyle) placed drugs as the main focus of the film showing how drugs inflict onto society how the victims of drugs need to commit crime to support their habit. Going into the 21st century British crime films still relate around current social problems like drugs, prostitution etc… they have become more stylised, gritty and realistic. Less romantic which was focused on in the early 20th century and more focused on current issues happening in the world today and real people.