Hoods and Yakuza The Shared Myth of the American and Japanese Gangster Film.
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While there have been many studies of the Hollywood gangster film and others of the Japanese yakuza-eiga (gangster films), there have been very few which look in any detail at the relationship between the two traditions: indeed, most commentators maintain that the American and Japanese gangster films have little or no similarity. It is the purpose of this study to challenge the validity of this view by demonstrating that Hollywood and Japanese gangster films do indeed share common forms and functions. By adopting a theoretical framework which advocates a multifaceted approach to genre and narrative studies and also by exploring the question of hybridity in film, the study shows that there is, in fact, a commonality which underlies and unites the American and Japanese gangster film. The study centres on the analysis of a range of films from the ‘classic’ phases of both traditions—the pre-Code Hollywood cycle of the early-1930s and the ‘golden age’ yakuza films of the 1960s and 70s. It uses this analysis to propose a deep structure which incorporates elements of narrative, theme and an ideologically ambiguous function of social commentary. The study then goes on to test this deep structure against hybrid films made by American and Japanese filmmakers which draw on both traditions, and it concludes with the contention that Hollywood gangster films and yakuza-eiga share a mythology which revolves around the notion of code; that is, the personal code by which the gangster-hero lives and dies as well as the overarching code—an abiding set of principles or agreed rules of behaviour—that is accepted by the closed micro-society of the gang.
- Theses