Lock Stock..., Sexy Beast and the Contemporary British Gangster Film

deadline for submissions: 
February 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Matthew Melia and Katerina Flint-Nicol (Kingston and Falmouth Universities)
contact email: 


Dear friends and colleagues.


Please note we are extending the deadline for this CFP. We invite all who are interested to submit an abstract


Since the late 1990s the British gangster film (whose popularity peaked during the 1970s and again in the early 1980s with films such as Get Carter (1971) and The Long Good Friday (1980)) has undergone a series of re-inventions and re-appraisals. Two films are largely responsible for the cultural renaissance of the genre: Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Ritchie, 1998) which turned 25 in 2023 and Sexy Beast, which turns 25 in 2025. These films established two parallel trends along which the genre would travel over the next quarter of a century. Lock Stock… very much product of the so called ‘lad culture’ of the 1990s, with its nostalgia for the classics of British gangster cinema, paved the way for contemporary gangster and crime films by the likes of Nick Love (The Football Factory (2004); The Business (2005)) and the Rise of the Footsoldier franchise (2007 – ). Sexy Beast, combined the tenets of the genre with a new art house sensibility, opening the way for directors such as Gerard Johnson (Hyena, 2014) and Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, 2008). As opposed to British horror cinema, which over the last 10 to 15 years has been the subject of an upswing in academic scrutiny, popular appeal and critical reappraisal, the British gangster film has evaded such scholarly attention, remaining instead an outlier of British cinema and the subject of cult interest and critical disdain. Criticisms of problematic sexual and racial politics, misogyny, and gratuitous violence (The Footsoldier franchise mainly bearing the brunt of this criticism) sidelined new films to limited, often straight to DVD/streaming, release. Nevertheless, with the Acting Hard season at the BFI exploring the often-problematic representations of working-class masculinity in British cinema, the genre looks to be again about to enter a phase of renewed popularity. This collection, which aims to coincide with the anniversaries of both Lock Stock…and Sexy Beast, considers the legacies of these films on the current British gangster film, along with a broader address of this British cinematic tradition. It aims to reposition the genre into a place of cultural importance and examine the ways it engages with contemporary politics of class, race, and gender.

Abstracts considered to include (but not be limited to):

– Lock, Stock… and the cultural politics of the 1990s

– Sexy Beast as a transitional gangster film

– Gangster films and the Arthouse tradition

– Lad culture and maleness in the British Gangster film

– Representations of Spain in the gangster film

– The politics of nostalgia

– Whiteness and the cinematic perception of the white working class

– Gangster films, globalisation, and Brexit

– Star power and performance: Ian McShane, Vinnie Jones, John Hurt, Danny Dyer, Craig Fairbrass, Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley

– New directions in the British Gangster film

– the work of Gerard Johnson – Space and place

– Distribution, production, and reception

– Contemporary cult British gangster cinema

– The politics of sex, class, race, gender, and ethnicity

– Harold Pinter and the British Gangster film

– British gangster films and the UK film establishment

– Spectacle, Violence and crime

-  genre hybridity

- Regionality

-  Representations of London's East End


Abstracts should be emailed to the editors Matthew Melia ( m.melia@kingston.ac.uk) and Katerina Flint-Nicol ( kat.flintnicol@falmouth.ac.uk ) no later than Feb 15th 2024