In honor of the NFT’s Crime Scene 2005 Festival, the London Times has a section of delightful oddities on crime films, which isn’t really a genre we have here (it seems to lie somewhere between noir and mysteries).
As an introductory piece, Phoebe Greenwood talks to various real cops and robbers about their favorite criminal film moments. She ties everything up with there useful pointers for spotting a criminal (on camera):
+ Itâ€™s the fourth or fifth person billed in the credits.
+ A major character actor in a minor role will declare his guilt at the end.
+ A love of fine wines/high art/biblical quotations is the sign of a master villain.
+ If suspects are blind or wheelchair-bound, they are probably faking it.
+ Never trust anyone with a cast-iron alibi.
Maxim Jakubowski presents the A to Z of crime movies, from "Angels With Dirty Faces" to Cornell Woolrich (he kind of flakes at the end there). Then he offers the following list of the worst crime clichÃ©s (we love kitschy lists, can you tell?):
+ Cases burst open in a shower of banknotes
+ Answer machines always have one message vital to an investigation
+ Serial killers plaster their bedroom walls with newspaper cuttings and psychotic scribblings.
+ Assassins always wait too long for a better shot
+ Itâ€™s always the first day on the job for the bank teller being robbed
James Christopher interviews Donald E. Westlake, who’s written scads of crime novels under several aliases, each with their own literary style. Many have been made into films, among the better ones "The Grifters" (which is, hey!, playing on IFC next week) and "Point Blank."
He gracefully acknowledges that the industry occasionally makes a total hash of his work. He refuses to give specifics: "There’s a wonderful line from James M. Cain. He was once asked, ‘What do you think the movies did to your books?’ He answered, ‘They didnâ€™t do anything to my books. There they are on the shelf.’"
Reporter Wendy Ide gets feedback on the realistic (or not) use of forensics in film from her father, a forensic scientist. Joanne Hines points out that women in crimes films tend to be arm candy, screaming victims, or feisty: "In Hollywood terms, this usually means a woman too stupid to respond plausibly in the kind of situation which would have any sane person passing out with fear." Author Ian Rankin lists his top ten crime films, and finally, as we always have to come back to celebrity antics these days, Kevin Maher details the ten crimes celebs tend to commit (there’s no "Overacting," or "Telling unfunny anecdotes on talk shows," which would be too easy, we suppose).
+ Real life True Crime (Times of London)
+ It’s a fair cop and robbers (Times of London)
+ Mystery man of many faces (Times of London)
+ Why I so love killing time with Dad (Times of London)
+ What’s a vice girl like you doing in flicks like these? (Times of London)
+ Molls, murder and mayhem (Times of London)
+ Lights, camera, infraction! (Times of London)