The wrong side of the law
Who were the criminals?
in The British working class in postwar film
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Three groups of criminals make regular appearances in postwar British films: spivs, who are black market traders; those have served in the forces; and career criminals. The spiv arose from a working-class subculture on the fringes of the underworld. Though spivs rarely take a leading role in films, an exception who cannot be ignored is the character of Pinkie Brown in Brighton Rock, produced by Roy Boulting. Demobilisation spawned several films in which the protagonist leaves service life to take the path to easy money. The character of Clem Morgan in They Made Me a Fugitive is an RAF officer who finds civilian life monotonous and turns to drink. He finds work with a gang of black marketeers. The mood changes in films such as Night and the City. Gangs might still be robbing warehouses, but the emphasis is on entrepreneurial skills.


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