John Buntin's book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City is the source book for TNT's miniseries Mob City.
From Buntin's Q & A with Randy Dotinga for the Christian Science Monitor:
Q: The era depicted in your book and "Mob City" – not to mention film noir up to the days of "L.A. Confidential" and beyond – continues to have plenty of cachet in our culture. What makes it pop?Visit John Buntin's website.
A: It's fun, a stylish period when adults still dressed like adults. One of the great newspaperwomen of the era talked about how detectives in those days were really proud of their watches, their cufflinks. They all had these beefy hands with lots of rings on them so they could mess people up. And they had lots of hats.
But it was also a brutal period and there's fascination with the brutality and darker themes. When you seriously engage with these people and find yourself looking at real crime scenes as opposed to anesthetized images, it is shocking.
Q: How did violence affect everyday people?
A: It was part of a narrative of everyone's lives. People played the numbers, made bets with the neighborhood bookies in the days before the state lottery.
Criminals were celebrities. Newspapers had underworld columnists who raced to investigate and solve crimes. Every morning and every evening, you could open your newspaper to read about these stories, which were quite riveting.
Q: The LAPD developed its mixed reputation in the years you write about and the police leaders in your book directly influenced those who came later, like Chief Daryl Gates of the Rodney King era. What do you make of how things have changed and not changed since the 1940s?
A: This isn't...[read on]
The Page 99 Test: L.A. Noir.