Law Enforcement in American Cinema, 1894–1952

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About the Book

Widespread law enforcement or formal policing outside of cities appeared in the early 20th century around the same time the early film industry was developing—the two evolved in tandem, intersecting in meaningful ways. Much scholarship has focused on portrayals of the criminal in early American cinema, yet little has been written about depictions of the criminal’s antagonist. This history examines how different on-screen representations shifted public perception of law enforcement—initially seen as a suspicious or intrusive institution, then as a power for the common good.

About the Author(s)

George Beck (Ph.D., History & Culture, Drew University) is a police sergeant, award-winning journalist, editor-in-chief of Blue Magazine and an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the College of Saint Elizabeth. He lives in New Jersey.

Bibliographic Details

George Beck
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 175
Bibliographic Info: filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8022-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4065-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1
I. Early Twentieth-Century Law Enforcement and Cinema 17
II. Just the Facts: The Police in Short Early Silent-Era Film 34
III. Cops in Silent-Era Feature Film: Traffic in Souls (1913), Easy Street (1917) and Cops (1922) 65
IV. Enforcing the Law in the “Talkies” 82
V. Shadows of Law Enforcement in Film Noir 103
Coda: Law Enforcement in Early Twentieth-Century Film: From a Subject of Suspicion to a Power for the Common Good 122
Filmography 131
Chapter Notes 137
Bibliography 153
Index 165