Murder and the Movies David Thomson

Publication date:
08 Sep 2020
Yale University Press
240 pages: 216 x 140 x 22mm
Sales territories:

A renowned movie critic on film’s treatment of one of mankind’s darkest behaviors: murder

"[Thomson's] analysis of death in Hitchcock movies is gorgeous. His restlessness is palpable. There is an anxiety in this brief, hurried book that suits these political and medical times."—Lisa Schwarzbaum, New York Times Book Review  

Included in the New York Times Book Review's "Best Books to Give" holiday list, 2020

How many acts of murder have each of us followed on a screen? What does that say about us? Do we remain law-abiding citizens who wouldn’t hurt a fly?  Film historian David Thomson, known for wit and subversiveness, leads us into this very delicate subject. While unpacking classics such as Seven,Kind Hearts and Coronets,Strangers on a Train,The Conformist,The Godfather, and The Shining, he offers a disconcerting sense of how the form of movies makes us accomplices in this sinister narrative process.
By turns seductive and astringent, very serious and suddenly hilarious, Murder and the Movies admits us into what Thomson calls “a warped triangle”: the creator working out a compelling death; the killer doing his and her best; and the entranced reader and spectator trying to cling to life and a proper sense of decency.

David Thomson is one of the great living authorities on movies, and is, most notably, the author of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film. He has written more than 20 books, including biographies of David O. Selznick and Orson Welles.

“David Thomson looks at how audiences become complicit in a cinematic "warped triangle" in his provocative Murder and the Movies.”—Choice Magazine

“In dissecting homicide's screen allure, Thomson's erudite insight dazzles.”—Kevin Harley, Total Film

“Thomson’s dive into dependency of movies on murder leads to a surprisingly quiet tone, a conversation of lowered voices: a sense of film enacting some fated, circular history.”—Greil Marcus

 “Thomson, one of the world’s leading film critics and historians, in his polished, recognizable style (dancing writing, provocative gestures, first person participation), has produced a slim, smart, readable volume on murder, movies, and society.”—Jonathan Kirshner, author of Hollywood's Last Golden Age

"Completely unpredictable, always surprising, always deeply engaging, and always very entertaining. You never know where Thomson may take you. You just know that wherever he does take you will be a wonderful place he will let you discover for yourself."—Richard Burt, University of Florida