This is a detailed examination of vigilantism in 1970s American film, from its humble niche beginnings as a response to relaxing censorship laws to its growth into a unique subgenre of its own. Cary Edwards explores the contextual factors leading to this new cycle of films ranging from Joe (1970) and The French Connection (1971) to Dirty Harry (1971)and Taxi Driver (1976), all of which have been challenged by contemporary critics for their gratuitous, copycat-inspiring violence. Yet close analysis of these films reveals a recurring focus on the emerging moral panic of the 1970s, a problematisation of Law and Order’s role in contemporary society, and an increasing awareness of the impossibility of American myths of identity.
Rather fantastically Nancy M. West, writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, has discussed New Wave, New Hollywood: Reassessment, Recovery and Legacy(edited by Nathan Abrams and Gregory Frame), including a whole discussion of my chapter ‘Formal Radicalism vs. Radical Representation: Reassessing The FrenchConnection (William Friedkin, 1971) and Dirty Harry (Don Siegel, 1971)’. This, and more, was said, ‘Maya Montañez Smukler, Nathan Abrams, Gregory Frame, Cary Edwards: this new wave of scholars takes aim at auteurism, that consecrated mainstay of New Hollywood, writing which treats the director as the true artist and unifying voice of a film — the king of the castle, master of his domain.’ Find the full article here: Lost Men, Found Women: Revisiting the New Hollywood.
There’s a book on the way… The Vigilante Thriller: Violence, Spectatorship and Identification in American Cinema, 1970-76 from Bloomsbury Academic is available for pre-order now for release on 21st April 2022. Exploring the cycle of Vigilante films that occurred in the 1970s, The Vigilante Thriller explores the socio-political and cinematic backgrounds of the films (including Dirty Harry, Death Wish and Taxi Driver) before analysing the spectator’s relationship to these transgressive texts.