Document Type


Publication Date



In this article, I analyse the function of Art Deco designs in the 1930s gangster genre and, in particular, Warner Brothers' Marked Woman (Bacon, 1937). Like many gangster films of the period, it associates high-style Art Deco with excess and the criminal underworld. My findings, however, reveal a tension between the film's moralist stance and its visual excess. Compelling visual signifiers of leisure, style and social mobility, the modern designs are free to circumvent the film's critical message and reinforce American capitalist ideologies. My analyses underscore Art Deco as an emblematic style of commercial modernity. Marked Woman and other gangster films not only reflect the latest trends in design, but also negotiate a constellation of values, ideologies and desires at a time of social and economic volatility.


Copyright © 2012 Intellect, Ltd.. The published version of the article can be found online at: