Almost as soon as movies could talk, they were making films about the gangsters who came to prominence by supplying liquor to thirsty Americans who didn't believe in the nanny-state laws against alcohol known as Prohibition.
"The superheroes we have today are modern American folklore," Michael Uslan told me, " it's contemporary mythology. The ancient gods of Greece, Rome and Egypt still exist only today they wear spandex and capes.
The Dark Knight Rises is very impressive and definitely worth seeing, but without a once-in-a-lifetime performance like Ledger's Joker to provide the pulse, we'll have to be content with a final chapter that certainly delivers, but in a trilogy that peaked in the middle.
Despite a top-flight cast, impeccable production values, and a number of emotional beats that genuinely work, The Dark Knight Rises doesn't stand up to scrutiny and it pales in comparison to what came before.
John Hillcoat's new film, Lawless, premiered at Cannes this week, with a star cast including Shia Labeouf, Jessica Chastain and Tom Hardy, and co-written by Nicolas Cage, the director's longtime friend and collaborator in Australia.
As technology advances and our knowledge accumulates, some ideas just don't make as much sense as they used to and are relegated to novelties or objects of nostalgia. I think it might be time to add the standard romantic comedy to this list of obsolete institutions.