THE CRIME GENRE
As viewers we are obsessed with crime tv series and movies. Why else would we still be producing soooooo many of them! Take a minute and just think about the biggest shows that took the world by storm and at their heart is a crime story. Breaking Bad, The Killing, Narcos, The Sopranos, The Wire – all huge international hits but gritty and dark and captivating. And then of course there's the stock and trade crime shows like Criminal Minds, Law & Order, NCIS, CSI (and all its regional spin-offs). Even Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has run for 22 seasons!! If there's a crime, somebody has written a show about it.
But where did it all start? The very first crime show to ever be televised was Telecrime. A BBC production, it ran from 1938–39 it challenged TV viewers to unravel crimes before the police. It also featured the first TV police detective, Inspector Holt, played by J B Rowe. That premise was also the foundation for Stand By For Crime (ABC, 1949–1949). The show was the first program transmitted from Chicago to New York and televised for a national audience. The plot focused on the murderer’s point of view and viewers were then invited to guess the identity of the killer by phoning the network.
It wasn't the network's biggest hit but it did lead to the first full Police crime drama show – Dragnet (NBC, 1951–1959). At that time there was a lot of cross-over between serialised radio shows and tv, and that's what happened with Dragnet. The purpose of a lot of the early crime dramas and shows was to educate and inform as well as entertain. So for nearly three decades, the crime depicted on tv was very black and white. There were good people and bad people. Criminals and victims. Right and wrong. The lines were never blurred and justice was always served.
And then came the groundbreaking Hill Street Blues (NBC, 1981–1987). Rather than focusing on a specific crime and a detective to solve it, Hill Street Blues was the first police show to feature an ensemble cast and serialised storylines. From beat cops to homicide detectives, the characters and plots covered the spectrum of crime and despite losing its audience in later seasons, it laid the foundation for the Crime shows that we know and love today.
AMAZON PRIME CRIME
CLASSIC CRIME FILMS
Crime movies cover and cross over so many genres that it's impossible to even list them all. At their heart, they generally fall into one of five categories. There's the gangster film, the detective (or who-dun-it) film, the crime comedy, the suspense-thriller, and the police (procedural) film. Unlike other film categories, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the origin of crime movies. So many early movies were a mix of genres that they could easily be categorised as something else.
But, often also considered an action movie, Edwin S. Porter's silent short western The Great Train Robbery (1903) is one of the earliest examples of a crime movie. Hot on its heels was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1905), considered the first Sherlock Holmes film since it was created for a theatre audience. Over the next 10 years plenty of silent crime movies were created and well received but it wasn't until the 1920s, when prohibition provided so much script material, that the genre really took off.
Underworld (1927) is often considered the first modern gangster film, with many standard conventions of a crime film. It won the Best Original Story Award for Ben Hecht – the first Oscar ever awarded for an original screenplay. All these years later and finding a bonafide crime movie is still rather tricky. If you take the time to check out the highest-grossing crime movies there a lot to unpack. In fact, you'll find films such as Despicable Me and Zootopia in the mix – though I don't think tracking down a carrot thief exemplifies the genre all that well.
Of those listed, Joker is the highest-grossing, earning $1,072,507,517 worldwide. The second highest is Taken with $1,074,251,727, and one that may surprise you is The Da Vinci Code (2006) taking in $767,820,459. Of course, now though, the best crime movies and shows often skip the cinema and go straight to streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon who are throwing healthy amounts of cash at producers around the world to make exciting crime shows and movies. And when they get dropped we'll let you know so you never miss a cracker of a crime show!
DISNEY CRIME FILMS
APPLE TV CRIME FILMS
PARAMOUNT CRIME FILMS
RECENT CRIME REVIEWS
Here you can view our latest Crime movies and series reviews from major streaming services.
CRIME HIDDEN GEMS
Here you can view hidden gems which you may have missed on original release.