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Dying to Belong: Gangster Movies in Hollywood and Hong Kong

ISBN: 978-1-4051-6371-2
304 pages
May 2007, Wiley-Blackwell
Dying to Belong: Gangster Movies in Hollywood and Hong Kong (1405163712) cover image
This fascinating book begins with a new definition of the gangster film and a challenging exploration of the Hong Kong and Hollywood screen traditions.

  • Illuminates the way gangster films deal with the ambiguities of modern life, correcting the notion that this genre is inconsequential sensationalism
  • Contends that both American and Hong Kong gangster films are against-the-grain reactions to the central fable of modern democracies that promise immigrant (and other) outsiders that they can become social insiders 
  • Clarifies crucial and fascinating differences between American and Hong Kong approaches to enjoining the discussion of immigrant histories by placing them in counterpoint with each other
  • Draws on a range of American films, ranging from Public Enemy and Scarface to Gangs of New York, Goodfellas, and The Godfather 
  • Explores a number of Hong Kong's 21st century gangster films, including Andrew Lau's great trilogy, Infernal Affairs, and Election and Election 2, directed by Hong Kong auteur Johnnie To
  • Concludes with an exclusive interview with The Sopranos' creator, David Chase
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Acknowledgments.

List of Illustrations.

1. Immigrant Movie Gangsters: The Outside Story.

2. A Frankensteinian Frenzy: Gangster Identity, Hollywood.

3. Gangster Identity, Hong Kong: A Taoist Code Warrior.

4. Hollywood: The Void of Material Success.

5. Dark Laughter at The Materialist Illusion: Hong Kong.

6. East Meets West: The Sopranos, Gangs of New York, Infernal Affairs.

Afterword. The Lesson: From Here to Modernity.

Appendix. Interview with David Chase (Excerpts From the Transcript).

Notes.

Bibliography.

Filmography.

Index

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Martha P. Nochimson has taught in the Department of Film and Television at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and at Mercy College, where she developed and chaired a program in Film Studies, and she is the author of four other books, including her internationally acclaimed studies The Passion of David Lynch: Wild at Heart in Hollywood (1997); Dying to Belong: Gangster Movies in Hollywood and Hong Kong (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007); No End to Her: Soap Opera and the Female Subject; and Screen Couple Chemistry: The Power of 2. Dr. Nochimson has been invited to appear on television in her capacity as a film and media critic in the United States, Canada, and France, and she has covered international film festivals in New York, Montreal, and Istanbul for over a decade. Her numerous articles about world film and interviews of major directors have appeared in Cineaste, Film Quarterly, and The New Review of Film and Television Studies. Further information is available at her website www.marthapnochimson.com.
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  • Challenges existing definitions of Hong Kong and Hollywood gangster genres
  • Illuminates the way gangster films deal with the ambiguities of modern life, correcting the notion that this genre is inconsequential sensationalism
  • Contends that both American and Hong Kong gangster films are against-the-grain reactions to the central fable of modern democracies that promise immigrant (and other) outsiders that they can become social insiders
  • Draws on a range of American films, ranging from Public Enemy and Scarface to Gangs of New York, Goodfellas, and The Godfather
  • Explores a number of Hong Kong's 21st century gangster films, including Andrew Lau's great trilogy, Infernal Affairs, and Election and Election 2, directed by Hong Kong auteur Johnnie To
  • Concludes with an exclusive interview with The Sopranos' creator, David Chase
See More
There is much to admire about this book, particularly in its formal and thematic film analyses. (Film Criticism , Winter 2008)

"The cultural crossings, borrowings, and thefts between Hollywood and the Asian film industries have been much commented upon in recent years; Martha P. Nochimson's book is therefore timely and necessary. Offering new perspectives on the debate, this original work brings fresh insights to the cultural meanings of the 'rise and fall' gangster narrative and updates a generic form which continues to address the concerns of contemporary audiences. Dying to Belong will provide an admirable lead in the field of which all subsequent work will have to take into account."
Esther Sonnet and Peter Stanfield, editors of Mob Culture: Hidden Histories of the American Gangster Film

"An original and much-needed intersectional study of American and Hong Kong gangster films, Dying to Belong challenges our most basic truisms about this genre. Nochimson compels us to rethink the best known and most popular gangster texts, from Scarface and The Public Enemy through The Godfather and The Sopranos. But she also introduces and provides cultural contexts for the Hong Kong films, making the latter more accessible and more likely to appear on syllabi and in cultural studies of modernism and violence."
Linda Mizejewski, Ohio State University

Successfully adds to the scholarship of cinema with critical insights and historical perspectives Nochimson should be commended for what is perhaps her finest book to date.
RogueCinema.com

Presents an interesting take on the subject offers a unique look at the complex genre an absorbing study into the history and movement of the genre. Recommended.
Digg.com

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