Tuesday, August 10, 2010
“Now I will die like the gangsters in the movies!”
This quote is given as having been the final words of a young delinquent facing death penalty in the first half of the past century. Illustrating the impact the new medium, and Hollywood’s romanticized view of the underworld had on our culture.
The quote always reminds me of the end of “Angels with dirty faces” and how as a child I was completely fascinated by this shady, yet honourable character James Cagney played in the movie.
I’m aware that viewers have differing opinions about the end, but me, I still prefer to believe that it’s not fear which rules Cagney’s final moments in the movie, but the same noble core that made him protect his friend in one way or other through the whole movie. In the end he even sacrifices his hard earned criminal renown, which could have made him a minor legend in the place he grew up. Instead he chooses to go out knowing that non will remember him ‘cept for Pat O’Brien and Ann Sheridan.
There’s a sort of bitter ironic to be found in how early Hollywood’s idea of noble criminals stands in direct contrast not only to our above quoted young friend, but to today’s youth an their unhealthy fascination with a gang culture that holds no values, and knows no honour.
Art imitates life imitates art?
If only it was that easy at times…