This chapter discusses the British gangster film. Unlike the vaguely romantic and detached violence of the Tommy-gun toting mobster, the British gangster of the 1940s fought with razors, vitriol and fists, at once a more prosaic and more hands-on method of violence — a reality that was reflected in the cinema. From its beginnings in the post-war period to the epic violence of The Long Good Friday (1979), the British gangster film has always adapted itself to the surrounding social milieu. Very often it has none of the mythic quality of its Hollywood counterpart and is certainly lacking in the budget or the star names. However, it also avoids the sentimentality of the Hollywood film and, aside from a few exceptions, tends to resist the glamorisation of its violence. Death in the British gangster film is brutal and ugly and retribution is often quick.
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