The Urban Frontier: From Inner City Tourist to Resident

  • Amy Lynn Corbin
Part of the Screening Spaces book series (SCSP)


The police film Fort Apache the Bronx (1981) arrived at a turning point in images of the cinematic inner city, on the tail end of a string of films built around the idea of the “urban frontier,” and at the beginning of a call by inner city residents to control their on-screen image. Its police characters see themselves in a desperate last stand against urban violence and chaos: after an initial incident in which two officers are found killed in their car, another sarcastically asks, “What is this, Gunfight at the OK Corral?” By establishing this dichotomy of savage urban residents and cowboy-cops, the film offers a textbook outsider position for its spectator. And yet, contradicting this imperialist position, the film is prefaced with a title card that reads:

The picture you are about to see is a portrayal of the lives of two policemen working out of a precinct in the south Bronx, NY. Because the story involves police work it does not deal with the law abiding members of the community nor does it dramatize the effects of the individuals and groups who are struggling to turn the Bronx around.


Police Officer Cultural Landscape Tour Guide City Resident Direct Address 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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