Gangster Films In The 1920s

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The dawn of Prohibition engendered the societal normalities of the United States to be completely turned upside down. What had been a source of a good time for so many was declared illegal and now millions of Americans were forced to seek alternative means of obtaining their alcohol, no matter how unscrupulous the source. Enter the gangster, a larger than life, pinstripe wearing, gun wielding renegade. It was this romanticized idea that would come to serve as an embodiment of society turning to the darker side. This idea would also take center stage on the silver screen with the emergence (and later alteration) of the gangster film. The gangster film would be continuously popular into the 1930s, reflecting the sentiments of society as the…show more content…
As Prohibition continued to drag on, the social acceptability of consuming bootlegged alcohol continued to grow alongside the increasing popularity of gangster films. As mentioned before, bootleggers had come to represent social heroes in the eyes of the public and were therefore portrayed this way in gangster films. Gangsters glamorous lifestyles began to become “glorified in the eyes of the public”, which revelled in the idea of breaking a law that they considered to be unjust. Gangsters weren’t considered to be the “bad guy”, but instead as symbols of the true desires of the American people. By the late 1920s, films such as The Underworld, The Racket, and Tenderloin, though they were all silent, continued to romanticize this idea of the gangster. However, it should also be noted that the true nature of gangster violence wasn’t explicitly depicted on screen until 1932, with the release of Scarface. Thus, audiences of the 1920s were detached from a more realistic idea of the gangster and the violence of his acts. The 1930s, however, would yet again change the gangster film as the Great Depression and its social consequences set in. To begin with, the United States during this time was a place of widespread loss and frustration. Many people felt let down by the government and financial institutions and blamed them for their current situation.People wanted to escape their present condition and live life
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