The Popularity of Gangster Films in the Early Nineteen-Thirties

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The Popularity of Gangster Films in the Early Nineteen-Thirties The late 1920s in America was a particularly tumultuous period of time for the country. The Wall Street Crash in 1929 had led to high levels of unemployment and dissatisfaction within the country. The Depression (1929-1934), which was a direct result of The Wall Street Crash, led to a breakdown of industry and commerce within the country and weakened its global position as a superpower. People began to realise that the ideal which had been frequently promoted by governmental propaganda of The American Dream which suggested that "success, in the democratic and classless society guaranteed by the …show more content…
During this period the rise of urban gang rule and mobsters was unprecedented, mainly emerging from minority immigrant groups (Jewish/Italian/Irish). Initially the gangsters of the period were seen as high achievers as they were associated with the proletariat and seemed to be capable of rising above there roots, even during hard times in America, and achieve wealth. When considering the socio-economic factors it is easy to understand why such men were considered as "gangster-heroes"[3] who represented the people, however the only way that gangsters could achieve this wealth, subsequently fulfilling the American Dream, was by stealing it. "Accruing capital meant accruing power over others"[4]. Therefore it could be argued that the success gangsters exemplified was a perverse form of the American dream as it disregarded some of the key elements of the ideal. The fact that at this stage in America gangsters were the only group within society who could make upward mobility believable, "tells much about how legitimate institutions had failed - but that mobility was still at the core of what Americans held to be the American dream"[5].

In the early 1930's productions began within Hollywood of what were commonly described as "social problem pictures"[6], these films dealt specifically with the social difficulties of the period such as unemployment/labour struggles ("Black