The spectacle of criminality

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The month after Francis Crowley achieved his moment of fame as a “gangster,” Winslow Elliott, the twelve-year-old son of a banker in Montclair, New Jersey, was accidentally shot and killed by his sixteen-yearold playmate, William Harold Gamble, as Gamble acted out a scene from The Secret Six, MGM’s principal contribution to that season’s cycle of gangster films.4 Elliott’s death escalated an already strident public discourse linking the public spectacle of crime to the movies, providing the press with the opportunity, as the Literary Digest put it, “to harp again on the type of pictures which are said to pervert the mind of youth.”5 Among those demanding the suppression of these movies was an unexpected authority, Al Capone, who declared: “These gang pictures-that’s terrible kid stuff. Why, they ought to take them all and throw them into the lake. They’re doing nothing but harm to the younger element of this country. I don’t blame the censors for trying to bar them. . . . these gang movies are making a lot of kids want to be tough guys and they don’t serve any useful purpose.”6

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationViolence and American Cinema
EditorsJ. David Slocum
Place of PublicationNew York, USA
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)9781135204907, 9781299868915
ISBN (Print)0415928109
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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