Murder Capital is a historical study of suspicious deaths, unexpected deaths whose circumstances required official investigation, in mid-twentieth-century London. Suspicious deaths – murders in the family and by strangers, infanticides and deaths from illegal abortions – reveal moments of personal and communal crisis in the social fabric of the city. The intimate details of these crimes revealed in police investigation files, newspaper reports and crime scene photographs hint at the fears and desires of people in London before, during and after the profound changes brought by the dislocations of the Second World War. By setting the institutional ordering of the city against the hidden intimate spaces where crimes occurred and were discovered, the book presents a new popular history of the city, in which urban space circumscribed the investigation, classification and public perceptions of crime.
While post-war popular cinema has traditionally been excluded from accounts of national cinemas, the last fifteen years have seen the academy’s gradual rediscovery of cult and, more, generally, popular films. Why, many years after their release, do we now deem these films worthy of study? The book situates ‘low’ film genres in their economic and culturally specific contexts (a period of unstable ‘economic miracles’ in different countries and regions) and explores the interconnections between those contexts, the immediate industrial-financial interests sustaining the films, and the films’ aesthetics. It argues that the visibility (or not) of popular genres in a nation’s account of its cinema is an indirect but demonstrable effect of the centrality (or not) of a particular kind of capital in that country’s economy. Through in-depth examination of what may at first appear as different cycles in film production and history – the Italian giallo, the Mexican horror film and Hindi horror cinema – Capital and popular cinema lays the foundations of a comparative approach to film; one capable of accounting for the whole of a national film industry’s production (‘popular’ and ‘canonic’) and applicable to the study of film genres globally.
reveal a secretive network operating in
the capital, with covert referrals, hidden letters, clandestine visits
and private rooms in which the operations took place. Even victims
dying in hospital often refused to name their abortionist, leaving the
historian the difficult task of interpreting these silences: were such
women protecting their abortionists or afraid of criminal prosecution
themselves should they recover? The coroners’ reports, police files,
newspaper articles and criminal depositions reveal glimpses of the
lives of women seeking abortions, of the
achieves through a lengthy process of practices, actions, and lifestyle
performances that must then be evaluated by the squatters movement as
Achieving the status of authentic squatter requires, first,
the ability to demonstrate a complicated mix of functional skills and
activist performances with a sense of naturalness and ease –
which I term squatter capital.
The second characteristic of authenticity is how a squatter
defines themselves, in hostile opposition, to a series of imagined
– the relations that make it the commodity it is and that sustain it as a function in a process of capital accumulation – but it does so in very complex, or as Marx put it, hidden ways. To
begin with, different circumstances inevitably produce very different films.
These films also stage profoundly different horizons – fantasies about the
ideal conditions for their existence as commodities, their functioning as
surplus generating processes. Within a capitalist system such as the one
we inhabit, the overall logic of accumulation that produces and
the body. Overcome by this series of events, Nora faints. She wakes up
the next morning at the hospital, where her account of the extraordinary
events she resolutely claims to have witnessed is explained away by the
doctors as the effect of too vivid an imagination, blaming explicitly her
assion for giallo books. She returns to Trinità dei Monti with
CAPITAL AND POPULAR CINEMA
Marcello, but no trace of the murder can be found. On the contrary, under
the spring sun the Spanish Steps look as joyful and serene as a picture
, as a result, to leisure
time. From the mid-1950s the growth of disposable income for this expanding section of the world’s population brought about a new wave of industrialised culture,4 especially in fashion, in the music industry and in the realm
of private transport (scooters, cars, etc.). Further, with the demise of the
CAPITAL AND POPULAR CINEMA
peasantry came the rise of occupations that required secondary and higher
education. Before World War Two the combined population of Germany,
France and Britain (150 million) contained no more than 150
understand how El vampiro circulated
globally and came to be written into the history of cinema in just this way –
in short, to assess critically the expectations that underpin its international
reception – the film and its director must first be situated in their historically specific film industrial and broader cultural context. In what follows I
map the career of Fernando Méndez against the growth of the Mexican film
CAPITAL AND POPULAR CINEMA
industry and the changes the country underwent in the two decades after
World War Two. As will become apparent, by the
brothers and their films never existed.
In this chapter I examine some of the Ramsay brothers’ films, their position
in the Hindi film industry and the industry’s relation to the wider economy.
What becomes apparent from this outline is that Hindi cinema produced
horror films during the 1980s and in that decade mainly because in India
the one single factor that was necessary for the production of films exploit-
THE HINDI HORROR FILMS OF THE RAMSAY BROTHERS
ing the generic sales points constitutive of the genre – radical capital – was,
until then, contained by
Technology is capital: Fifth Estate’s critique of
‘How do we begin to discuss something as immense as technology?’, writes T.
Fulano at the beginning of his essay ‘Against the megamachine’ (1981a: 4).
Indeed, the degree to which the technological apparatus penetrates all elements
of contemporary society does make such an undertaking a daunting one.
Nevertheless, it is an undertaking that the US journal and collective Fifth Estate
has attempted. In so doing, it has developed arguably the most sophisticated and