Here is an interesting collection of essays on American crime films going well beyond the usual treatment (i.e., Cagney, Robinson, Bogart, etc., up through Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, and Pulp Fiction). This time its the hidden underbelly of the Hollywood underworld and the emphasis is on issues of race, gender, and political and social influences on gangster films from various periods. Rather than beginning with Little Caesar and Scarface, it goes way back to the early silents, exploring early popular conceptions and misconceptions of urban ghetto life, the Black Hand, and Chinese tongs, covers early "race" films and the "blaxploitation" cycle of the Seventies, the Kefauver Committee and its influence upon the "Syndicate" films of the Fifties and brings it right up to date with the HBO treatment of The Sopranos. The articles on gender and sexuality explore the roles or nonroles of women in the gangster film as well as implied homosexuality in the traditionally exclusive male celluloid gangster world and one chapter is devoted to the FBI's mythologizing of Ma Barker and to the various wildly inaccurate Hollywood treatments of her legend. The intellectualizing may be a bit heavy here at times--after all, we're talking gangster movies, which are hardly aimed at the highbrow crowd--but there are some great perspectives here anyway and coverage of many obscure crime films. It's worth picking up.