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Film Genres: Detective & Mystery films

This guide highlights library resources for some of the more popular film genres.

A quick definition for detective films

The criminal act in the crime film is usually approached via a focus on criminals and their criminal act, the experiences of the victim of a crime, or the process of detection and investigation. The latter—often labelled the detective film—is a mainstay of the crime film and has attracted considerable attention within film studies. Indeed, the formulaic, quest-driven, nature of the detective film has been a central point of interest for scholars working on narrative and narrativity within the critical paradigms of structuralism, neoformalism, and cognitivism. The wider theoretical and philosophical question of how to seek and establish knowledge (via a process of investigation) has also made the detective film central to case studies using Foucauldian and psychoanalytic frameworks. Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that a sophisticated orchestration of point of view and filmic time is central to many crime films, as seen in the complex narrative design of films as diverse as Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, US, 1945), Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1950), and Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, US, 1994).

Kuhn, A. and Westwell, G. (2012). "Crime film." In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 11 Jul. 2017

Finding library resources for detective & mystery films

To find what we have in the Library's collection, you can do a subject search for "detective and mystery films" in the online catalog. That search will show you what film titles are classified as detective films as well as books and other items about them.

As you look at the list under specific headings, those headings which include "history and criticism" talk about the genre itself. The headings which also include a country name are specifically talking about detective films in that country.

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book titles

Finding articles & using SUMMON

Articles and other writings about movies can be found in many publications. Our collection does not include a journal or magazine which looks exclusively at detective films. Other film journals within our collection will cover this genre. You can use Film & Television Literature Index to find relevant articles. You can also use the SUMMON box below.

About?

Dartmouth Users: Using Summon from off-campus? You'll need VPN for access to full-text.

Selected movie titles

For more detective titles, click here.

Keeping up with Film Studies journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with the journal literature for all facets of Film Studies? And you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's, you can download and read the articles you want from the journals for which we have subscriptions.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's now available in a web version. You can get to it here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.