Killing as punishment in the USA, whether ordained by lynch mob or by the courts, reflects a paradox of the American nation: liberal, pluralistic, yet prone to lethal violence. This book examines the encounter between the legal history of the death penalty in America and its cinematic representations, through a comprehensive narrative and historical view of films dealing with this genre, from the silent era to the present. It addresses central issues including racial prejudice and attitudes towards the execution of women, and discusses how cinema has chosen to deal with them. It explores how such films as Michael Curtiz's 20,000 Years in Sing Sing and Fritz Lang's The Fury, Errol Morris's documentary The Thin Blue Line, John Singleton's Rosewood and Frank Darabont's death-row movie The Green Mile, have helped to shape real historical developments and public perceptions by bringing into sharper relief the legal, social and cultural tensions associated with capital punishment. In the process, Yvonne Kozlovksy-Golan provides the reader with a superb understanding of the complexities of the death penalty through US history.
Chair of the Graduate Program in Culture and Film Studies at Haifa University's Faculty of the Humanities.
Introduction Chapter 1 Law, Fiction and Death Introduction: Criminality and Retribution in Hollywood Film Silent Film: The Death Penalty as a Social Problem and as Popular Entertainment Censorship and Manipulation: The Difficult Years The Golden Age of Legal Cinema - And Justice for All: Legal Cinema since the 1960s Chapter 2 The Death Penalty in the United States Historical Aspects of Culture, Society and Law Progress and Creativity in the Service of Death A Living Penalty: How Much Longer? Chapter 3 A Cinematic Window to Problems Concerning the Death Penalty Legal Controversy as a Cinematic Event A Particularly Subjective Objectivity: The Jury Problem Strange Fruit The Mentally Retarded and the Mentally Ill on Death Row Old Enough to Die Forbidden Relationships Technological and Procedural Innovation in the Service of Death Chapter 4 Death Becomes Them: Women on the Gallows 2.1.The Winning Formula: Women, Gallows, Camera Off with Their Heads: Politics, Monarchy, and Religion Female Spies and Patriotism in Film From the Gallows Chamber to Iconic Status Between Drama and Musical Comedy: Life (and Death) as a Circus