Bad: Infamy, Darkness, Evil, and Slime on Screen by Murray Pomerance

By Murray Pomerance

Examines the various varieties of cinematic badness during the last 100 years, from Nosferatu to The gifted Mr. Ripley.

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Such treatment differed FLICKERS 23 radically from that accorded constitutionally protected printed material. The lack of prepublication censorship formed a cornerstone of freedom of the press—a point the lawyers for Mutual Film argued strongly, and felt should be applicable to film as a means of expression (McKenna, 3). S. Constitution (although, for technical reasons, it was the guarantee of the freedom of speech in the Ohio Constitution that was argued). Films, the corporation claimed, “depict dramatizations of standard novels, exhibiting many subjects of scientific interest, the properties of matter, the growth of various forms of animal and plant life, and explorations and travel; also events of historical and current interest—the same events which are described in words and by photographs in newspapers, weekly periodicals, magazines and other publications” (McKenna, 1).

Peter Lehman’s “Bad, Worse, Worst: 8MM and Hollywood’s Bad Boys of Porn” is a discussion of the presumptive moral superiority of mainstream Hollywood filmmakers depicting the “bad” porn industry in mainstream, “good” narratives. With specific focus on 8MM as seen in comparison to The People vs. Larry Flynt and Boogie Nights, Lehman gives a precise reading that reveals the angling and exaggeration necessary for construction of a portrait of the porn world as a thoroughly morally suspect universe.

Rothman shows how Hitchcock affiliates the eye of the camera with the eye and “I” of the protagonist, in situations where the characters and the audience are similarly trapped in the filmmaker’s device. Unable to “self-nominate” as villain, the screen character is very different from the protagonist of stage melodrama—a human being, ongoingly mysterious. Hitchcock’s mastery included his special sensitivity to the camera’s nomination of villainy. The final part, “The Charisma of Villainy,” has contributions that focus on particular characterizations or characterizational types.

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