Browsing in Gangland
THE best thing ever written about crime in America was written not by a criminologist, not by an investigative reporter, not by a novelist, but by a movie critic. The late Robert Warshow, in an essay entitled “The Gangster as Tragic Hero,” focused not on crime itself but on the wellsprings of our fascination with it. That Americans are indeed fascinated by crime seems too obvious to be open to serious question. Crime has, as everyone knows, long been a staple of the movies, occasionally inspiring some of the very best films made in this country. In television, crime is perhaps the closest thing to a sure-fire bet there is; the producers, directors, and actors of such long-run television series as The Untouchables, Naked City, The FBI, Mannix, Hawaii Five-O, and God knows how many others, have all lived for many years off crime, or, more precisely, off their countrymen’s apparently unending interest in the subject.
About the Author
Joseph Epstein is a regular contributor to COMMENTARY.