My 10 favorite detective movies!

Jan 23, 2002

The Bottom Line To many movies to choose from in this genre make it impossible to narrow it down to 10 without leaving out many of the best detective movies ever made.

This was extremely tough to narrow down to 10 since there are so many I still enjoy watching...and you want me to rank them too!!

I have to say that this top 10 list will continue to be modified yearly, as new releases of detective movies come out. Of course my top 10 list includes only those that I care to watch again and again even though I could easily add another 10 movies to this list or change my list altogether and still call it my favorite list since I enjoy so many movies in this genre.

Anyway, on this day and in no particular order of priority, my favorite detective movies are:

The French Connection - 1971 - Gene Hackman et al - Two New York City narcotics detectives are trying to track down the source of heroin coming from Europe into the United States. Over dedication to work can result in psychotic behavior! No kidding! The dialogue is intelligent, and the film’s high point features the most captivating and exciting car chase scenes of its day. Classic all the way!

L.A. Confidential - 1997 - Russel Crowe, Kevin Spacey, & Guy Pearce - This story is set in early 1950's Hollywood. A multiple murder at a coffee shop is believed to be part of an effort by one crime lord to consolidate his hold on organized crime in L.A. This leads L.A. detectives to the discovery of a bizarre call-girl pornography ring operated by another crime lord, whose women are given plastic surgery so that they more closely resemble well-known movie stars. The detectives, and they are all very different in nature and temperament, are drawn into a tangled web of violence, deception and betrayal. What a great movie...

Heat - 1995 - Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore and Jon Voight - A career criminal considers getting out of the business after one last score, while an obsessive robbery/homicide cop desperately tries to put him behind bars. The criminal is very successful at what he does, so is the detective. Both personal lives have suffered at the expense of their chosen careers. The unavoidable confrontation between the two culminates in a poignant shoot-out sequence on the streets of Los Angeles. But it doesn’t end there! You got to see it to believe it...

Silence of the Lambs - 1991 - Anthony Hopkins & Jodie Foster - An FBI trainee helps an FBI special agent investigating a vicious serial killer nicknamed Buffalo Bill. The FBI trainee is sent on an assignment to interview a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. As it turns out Hannibal Lecter does indeed know something about Buffalo Bill, and he agrees to help the FBI in exchange for a room with a view, a prison cell with a more comfortable setting...This is a classic!

Seven - 1995 - Morgan Freeman & Brad Pitt & Kevin Spacey - A diabolical serial killer is staging horrible murders, choosing his victims from the Bibles seven deadly sins. First, gluttony then greed, later comes lust, sloth, pride, envy and wrath. A homicide detective with less than one week before retirement realizes he is dealing with a serial killer and must solve one last case with his replacement, a young hotshot detective. Another great story, great performance by Freeman as an aging homicide cop, just a great detective movie with an unusual befitting ending.

The Usual Suspects - 1995 - Kevin Spacey & Gabriel Byrne et al - The only witness and key suspect of a massive explosion on a ship in a San Pedro harbor, is brought in for questioning. The explosion left 27 dead, one horribly burned lone survivor and 91 million dollars worth of cocaine missing. The witness/suspect recounts the events that led to the disaster. From the interview, we learn about the usual suspects, the jewel heist, the trip to Los Angeles to fence the goods, and a criminal mastermind named Keyser Soze. Although listed here as a detective movie, the only detective work you will see here is the questioning of one suspect. But this “story” is that good!

The Fugitive - 1993 - Harrison Ford & Tommy Lee Jones - A doctor who is convicted of murdering his wife, survives a spectacular bus-train collision and escapes. To clear his name he must track down the real killer before he is captured by US Marshalls. The movie offers one surprise after another and the doctors determination to find the killer is equally matched by the US Marshalls determined to bring him back to justice. Rare detective movie in the action thriller genre. Never a dull moment in this movie!

The Negotiator - 1998 - Kevin Spacey & Samuel L. Jackson - A Chicago police hostage negotiator is suspected of killing his partner who was following a lead on pension fund embezzlement within the police department. So the negotiator does what he knows what to do best and invades the Chicago Internal Affairs Division headquarters and interrogates an inspector (the only lead he`s got) while holding several others as hostages. Another hostage negotiator arrives and the action continues...

Beyond the Law - 1992 - Charlie Sheen - A cop with a deathwish is recruited to infiltrate an outlaw motorcycle gang...great story, very close to reality, and this is by far my favorite Charlie Sheen movie. Policeman go undercover to investigate and gather evidence. U/C operators fall in the category of detectives! Don’t ask me why this movie is still on my list, something about the story I just can’t explain...

Fargo - 1996 - Frances McDormand & William H. Macy - A small town pregnant police chief investigates the deaths of two motorists found not to far away from a dead state trooper. Her investigation techniques are bang on as she slowly pieces together a case involving would-be kidnappers and a car salesman in way over his head. This is a comedy thriller like no other. This is on my detective list because small police forces don`t always have detectives and must rely on experience and small town street smarts to solve their crimes. So in this film the police chief is classified as the investigator/detective hot on the trail of the killers...

To conclude, I truly enjoy watching many great detective movies such as: Face/Off, Basic Instinct, Donnie Brasco, The Untouchables, Kiss the girls, Hannibal, Copycat, Fallen, Chinatown and the list goes on and on. I had to narrow it down to ten...and my favorite list only includes those movies that I care to watch again and again, right now. Tomorrow might be another list...


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