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The study of detectives in classical Hollywood has often overlooked the B-Movie mystery series in favour of hard-boiled film, despite the fact that many of these crime series have a cult status among film fans. Hollywood's Detectives redresses the balance by examining key detective series of the 1930s and 1940s (including Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan, The Falcon and The Thin Man), as well as some that are less well-known (Michael Shayne and Torchy Blane) to explore the particular concerns and modes of representation within the detective film before the rise of hard-boiled and noir cinema. The book considers a range of concerns within the detective crime series, including the cinematic vaudeville of the B-Movie, the specific features of the detective film, the detective as an outsider and as a sign of disorder, ethnicity, national identity and class, while also examining the emergence and significance of hard-boiled and noir styles.

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