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British Seem So Murderous, So Comfortable With Homicide.


Ascotrudgeracer
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It's more than fare such as "Obsession" (1949)...by the way, "10 Rillington Place" (1971) gets my vote for the finest of these English murder thrillers.

 

It can't just be cinema. The British as a whole seem to look at the most dastardly sin possible -- killing -- with nothing more than detached curiosity.

 

I apologize sincerely in advance to anyone I have offended, but the British to me are one big death cult.

 

"You've seen too many movies!"

I know...but I don't know if I could ever be comfortable in an old house with an English man or woman lurking about, slurping that tea.

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I believe the British have a long-standing respect for amorality because it has always been the province of the elite and commoners could only slyly peep over the hedges to glimpse the antics.

 

Benjamin Disraeli's roman ? th?se Sybil (1845) showed what one scholar termed: "... the riotous hedonism and decadence behind a repressive bourgeois facade." The 'repressive' comes from their legendary do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do insistence that crime among commoners be severely punished.

 

George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts (1912) demonstrates the class distinction well. The poor were considered prudish as in Eliza's: "I'm a good girl, I am" or harmless drunken louts as her father. It was considered acceptable by one and all for a poor girl to be taken into the home of a gentleman for unstated reasons. Those who knew her snickered while in envy at her good fortune at becoming 'interesting' to the higher class. By the standards of the day a prostitute on the street was despised while a gentleman's mistress was admired.

 

Upper-class amorality was well expressed also by Arthur Sullivan in the third song for the operetta The Pirates of Penzance (1879) where the Pirate King sings:

"But many a king on a first-class throne,

If he wants to call his crown his own,

Must manage somehow to get through

More dirty work than ever +I+ do."

 

Murder is nearly the ultimate amorality. When it was done with finesse the British commoner of the Victorian and Edwardian Eras viewed it as an aristocratic act and they treated it with the respect and admiration expected of them when brushing up against the lifestyle of Lords and Ladies.

 

The British also have long taken pride in their phlegmatic attitude towards unpleasant situations. While an American detective might make a murder personal and seek retribution by any means his British counterpart will consider it unworthy of him to express strong emotion and he will maintain his slow and careful examination of the facts of the case to bring the culprit to justice.

 

This can be seen well in *Dial M for Murder* (1954). Chief Inspector Hubbard is apologetic when he confesses that he went outside normal procedures because: "my blood was up".

 

I believe these factors contribute to a generalization that while the Americans consider a murder as highly personal the British view it as a social event which must be regarded with respect from a discrete distance.

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Good points SansFin!

 

Part of the Progressivism of 19th century British Victorianism was the belief that science and intellect can solve most any problem. What is needed is facts, scientific analysis and deduction, not emotion. This ethos spread to crime literature, as seen in Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series, It affected the portrayal of villains as well, as witnessed by Moriarty. Methodical scientific detectives breed villains who themselves were cunning and methodical. It saw later incarnation in Hitchcock's films and Agatha Christie novels. Crime became a chessgame, a match of wits between pursuer and pursued.

 

Today the British, in their media, revel in verbal and emotional outpouring. In the old, especially pre-war Britain, this was considered extremely "bad form", even when there were bodies laying around! Even a villain of good background and breeding was expected to commit a crime of passion dispassionately; he was often portrayed as keeping a level head even when commiting the ultimate crime! A gentleman was measured by his self control and self restraint, and lack thereof was considered the sure mark of the lower classes. Or worse yet, the sign of somebody who just wasn't "British"!

 

In America, the above dynamic saw embodiment in the numerous sequeled "Charlie Chan" mysteries of the 30's and 40's. In all of those 44 films, the the detective from Honolulu drew on the emotional self-restraint of his oriental roots and almost never lost his cool when pursuing crooks, many of whom were quite clever themselves, but not not clever enough for Charlie!

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Dec 13, 2011 10:15 AM

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Dec 13, 2011 10:20 AM

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>I know...but I don't know if I could ever be comfortable in an old house with an English man or woman lurking about, slurping that tea.

 

What you need is a good rest. I'll loan you some money so you can spend a relaxing weekend at the Bates Motel. :)

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> {quote:title=Bolesroor wrote:}{quote}("Killed a hooker last night, I did")

I don't think a Brit would EVER say "Killed a hooker last night,I did" He'll have a name for her,but it won't be "hooker". Hooker is purely American.The term was coined during the American Civil war,in honor of Gen.Joseph P. Hooker,who loved his ladies. JR.

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> {quote:title=ThelmaTodd wrote:}{quote}

> A gentleman was measured by his self control and self restraint, and lack thereof was considered the sure mark of the lower classes. Or worse yet, the sign of somebody who just wasn't "British"!

 

Being a good loser is expected of a proper British gentleman. In *Dial M for Murder* (1954) Tony Wendice offered the detective a drink as a gesture of congratulations.

 

It is purely British to say: "It's a fair cop" and to not create difficulties.

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> {quote:title=jr33928 wrote:}{quote}

> Hooker is purely American.The term was coined during the American Civil war,in honor of Gen.Joseph P. Hooker,who loved his ladies.

 

I am sorry to say that is a popular myth. The term: 'hooker' was used in print many years before his time. It is believed to refer to an area of New York City which was known for its numerous brothels and ladies of the street.

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> {quote:title=jr33928 wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=Bolesroor wrote:}{quote}("Killed a hooker last night, I did")

> I don't think a Brit would EVER say "Killed a hooker last night,I did" He'll have a name for her,but it won't be "hooker". Hooker is purely American.The term was coined during the American Civil war,in honor of Gen.Joseph P. Hooker,who loved his ladies. JR.

Poor ol' Major General Joseph Hooker...possibly forever to be "credited" with the coining of this word's meaning. However, according to at least one source, "The Free Dictionary by Farlex", this may not be the actual case:

 

WORD HISTORY In his Personal Memoirs Ulysses S. Grant described Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker as "a dangerous man ... not subordinate to his superiors." Hooker had his faults. He may indeed have been insubordinate; he was undoubtedly an erratic leader. But "Fighting Joe" Hooker is often accused of one thing he certainly did not do: he did not give his name to prostitutes. According to a popular story, the men under Hooker's command during the Civil War were a particularly wild bunch, and would spend much of their time in brothels when on leave. For this reason, as the story goes, prostitutes came to be known as hookers. However attractive this theory may be, it cannot be true. The word hooker with the sense "prostitute" is already recorded before the Civil War. As early as 1845 it is found in North Carolina, as reported in Norman Ellsworth Eliason's Tarheel Talk; an Historical Study of the English Language in North Carolina to 1860, published in 1956. It also appears in the second edition of John Russell Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms, published in 1859, where it is defined as "a strumpet, a sailor's trull." Etymologically, it is most likely that hooker is simply "one who hooks." The term portrays a prostitute as a person who hooks, or snares, clients.

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> {quote:title=jamesjazzguitar wrote:}{quote}Well murder is still very rare in Britain when compared to the USA. The USA has one of the highest murder rates for a western nation.

>

> So in film the British could 'play up' murder while here in the USA murder was just as common as going to the store.

Very true. And generalizing here, of course, but the British are more intellectual, circumspect, and (a strange word to use in this regard, but) polite about it. Murder depicted in American classic films is mostly prevalent in the gangster film genre - in other words, it's of the "Take that, you dirty rat!" [ack-ack-ack-ack!] variety, so it seems quite crude and bloody in contrast. Which would you prefer, though, Ascotrudgeracer ... to be gunned down in a dark alley ... or neatly poisoned/strangled? :D

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In many of the British films, I found the 'Upper Class' Britsh to be very Cool and 'UnNerved' in many cases . . . And the females in Alfred Hitchcock's stories were always 'Cool Blondes'.

One of his films, 'Dial M for Murder' not Only has a 'Cool' Grace Kelly, but the other characters, as well, are so 'Prim and Proper' !

 

*SPOILER ALERT: **In 'Dial M for Murder', the ending finds Ray Milland's character, Wendice, after being discovered of switching house keys which led to the failed attempt @ his wife's murder, makes a getaway attempt, but finds a policeman guarding the entryway. He then closes the door &* calmly* Walks over to the inspector, Hubbard and *Congradulates* him with a smile, before picking up a bottle of Brandy. He stops short and comments, *"By the Way"* and reaches into his pocket and hands over the *'KEY'* to the inspector & continues walking over to his Liquor Cabinet & procedes to pour himself a drink, checking with a *'keen' eye*, the precise amount poured into his own glass. And then he *Politely* turns to his Wife and asks, *"And how about you, Margo ?",* to which she answers, lightly distraught, *"Yes, I could use some."* Then he asks Mark, *"Mark ?",* to which Mark answers calmly, "So could I". He then remembers the inspector and inquires of him, *"And I suppose you're still on duty inspector...(?) ".* But the inspector doesn't answer him. He insteads picks up the phone and begins dialing. While waiting for an answer on the other end, he takes out a fine tooth comb and *'nonchalantly'+ *begins combing his mustache, to either side.

 

 

 

I mean, How 'COOL' is that ? . . . If that had been an actual crime, here in America, Wendice would never had had the opportunity to have gone into his pockets to retrieve a Key ! .... Or even Walk around his Apartment pouring Drinks for everyone. He probably would have been wrestled to the ground or had been made to hold his Arms up, while searched thoroughly for any Weapons and made to SIT ... Handcuffed ! ... And Watched And Questioned! ... before being Escorted to a Cop Car. (I watch a lot of that 'COP' show ... ;) )

 

Edited by: ugaarte on Dec 14, 2011 5:24 AM

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