HOME

TheInfoList




Crime films, in the broadest sense, is a
film genre A film genre is a Genre, stylistic or thematic category for Film, motion pictures based on similarities either in the narrative , narrative elements, aesthetic approach, or the emotional response to the film. Drawing heavily from the theories o ...
inspired by and analogous to the
crime fiction Crime fiction, detective story, murder mystery, mystery novel, and police novel are terms used to describe narratives that centre on criminal acts and especially on the investigation, either by an amateur or a professional detective, of a serious ...
literary genre. Films of this genre generally involve various aspects of
crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...

crime
and its detection. Stylistically, the genre may overlap and combine with many other genres, such as
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
or
gangster film A gangster film or gangster movie is a film belonging to a genre that focuses on gang A gang is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The or ...
, but also include
comedy Comedy (from the el, κωμῳδία, ''kōmōdía'') is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humor Humour (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic lan ...
, and, in turn, is divided into many sub-genres, such as
mystery Mystery, The Mystery, Mysteries or The Mysteries may refer to: People * Mystery (pickup artist) Erik von Markovik (born September 24, 1971), more popularly known by his stage name, Mystery, is a Canadian pickup artist who developed a system of ...
,
suspense Suspense is a state of mental uncertainty Uncertainty refers to Epistemology, epistemic situations involving imperfect or unknown information. It applies to predictions of future events, to physical measurements that are already made, or to th ...
or
noir Noir (or noire) is the French word for black. It may also refer to: Places In Canada * Noire River (Ottawa River tributary), in the Outaouais region of Quebec * Noire River, a tributary of the Yamaska River in Eastern Townships area, Quebec In ...
. Screenwriter and scholar Eric R. Williams identified crime film as one of eleven super-genres in his screenwriters’ taxonomy, claiming that all feature-length narrative films can be classified by these super-genres.  The other ten super-genres are action, fantasy, horror, romance, science fiction, slice of life, sports, thriller, war and western. Williams identifies drama in a broader category called "film type", mystery and suspense as "macro-genres", and film noir as a "screenwriter's pathway" explaining that these categories are additive rather than exclusionary. ''
Chinatown A Chinatown () is an ethnic enclave of Chinese people located outside mainland China Mainland China, also known as the Chinese mainland, China mainland, or the Mainland Area of the Republic of China is the geopolitics, geopolitical area ...
'' would be an example of a film that is a drama (film type) crime film (super-genre) that is also a noir (pathway) mystery (macro-genre).


Source of plots

Crime films are often based on real events or are
adaptation In , adaptation has three related meanings. Firstly, it is the dynamic evolutionary process that fits s to their environment, enhancing their . Secondly, it is a state reached by the population during that process. Thirdly, it is a or adapti ...
s of
plays Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Google Play, a digital content service * Play Framework, a Java framework * Play ...
or novels, or a remake or adoption of a previous film. Some plots are original and entirely fictional. For example, the 1957 film version of '' Witness for the Prosecution'' is an adaptation of a 1953 stage play of that name, which is in turn based on
Agatha Christie Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around ...

Agatha Christie
's short story, originally published in 1933. The film version was remade in 1982, and there have been other adaptations. However, each of these media has its own advantages and limitations, which in the case of cinema is the time constraint.


Plays and films

''Witness for the Prosecution'' is a classic example of a "
courtroom drama A legal drama, or a courtroom drama, is a genre of film and television that generally focuses on narratives regarding legal practice Legal practice is sometimes used to distinguish the body of judicial or administrative precedents, rule Rule ...
". In a courtroom drama, a charge is brought against one of the main characters, who claims to be innocent. Another major part is played by the lawyer (in England a
barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in everyday speech to attorney, is the preferred term for a practisin ...

barrister
) representing the
defendant In court proceedings, a defendant is a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic by Logical consequence, drawing conclu ...
in court and battling with the public prosecutor. He or she may enlist the services of a private investigator to find out what really happened and who the real perpetrator is. However, in most cases it is not clear at all whether the accused is guilty of the crime or not—this is how suspense is created. Often, the private investigator storms into the courtroom at the last minute in order to bring a new and crucial piece of information to the attention of the court. This type of literature lends itself to the literary genre of drama focused more on dialogue (the opening and closing statements, the witnesses' testimonies, etc.) and little or no necessity for a shift in scenery. The auditorium of the theatre becomes an extension of the courtroom. When a courtroom drama is filmed, the traditional device employed by screenwriters and directors is the frequent use of flashbacks, in which the crime and everything that led up to it is narrated and reconstructed from different angles. A classic courtroom drama is U.S. playwright
Reginald Rose Reginald Rose (December 10, 1920 – April 19, 2002) was an American film and television writer, most widely known for his work in the Golden Age of Television, early years of television drama. He wrote about controversial social and politica ...
's ''
Twelve Angry Men ''Twelve Angry Men'' is an American courtroom drama written by Reginald Rose concerning the jury of a homicide trial. It was broadcast initially as a television play in 1954. The following year it was adapted for the stage. It was adapted for a 12 ...
'' (1954), which is set in the
jury A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objectivity (philosophy), objective ...

jury
deliberation room of a
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the Northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...

New York
Court of Law. Eleven members of the jury, aiming at a unanimous
verdict In law, a verdict is the formal trier of fact, finding of fact made by a jury on matters or questions submitted to the jury by a judge. In a bench trial, the judge's decision near the end of the trial is simply referred to as a finding. In Engla ...
of "guilty", try to get it over with as quickly as possible. And they would really succeed in achieving their common aim if it were not for the eighth juror (played by
Henry Fonda Henry Jaynes Fonda (May 16, 1905 – August 12, 1982) was an American film and stage actor who had a career that spanned five decades in Hollywood. Fonda cultivated a strong, appealing screen image in several films now considered to be classics ...
in the 1957 movie adaptation), who, on second thoughts, considers it his duty to convince his colleagues that the defendant may be innocent after all, and who, by doing so, triggers much discussion, confusion, and anger.


Subgenres


Crime action

Crime action films are those that favor violence. According to Jule Selbo, the crime and action genres are intertwined: "the films could not exist in their popular form without the other on equal footing—therefore they are working in ''tandem''". Examples include the ''
Fast & Furious ''Fast & Furious'' (also known as ''The Fast and the Furious'') is a media franchise centered on a series of action films that are largely concerned with illegal street racing, robbery, heists, and spy film, spies. The franchise also includes ...
'' film series.


Crime comedy

Crime comedy films are a hybrid of the crime film and the comedy that play with the conventions of the crime film and may introduce aspects of
dark humor Darkness, the polar opposite of brightness Brightness is an attribute of visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment using light in the visible spectrum reflected by the objects in the envi ...
. Generally, they feature dim-witted criminals or crime sprees that are bumblingly executed or are presented in a lighthearted matter. The genre had a resurgence in popularity in the independent film scene of the 1990s, which combined the cliches of the crime thriller with comic appropriations.


Crime drama

Crime dramas are films that focus on the moral dilemmas of criminals. They differ from crime thrillers as the films generally focus on a more grim and realistic portrayal of the criminal world over violence and gunplay sequences. Occasionally these films begin with the flashier elements of the crime thriller such as in ''
The Godfather ''The Godfather'' is a 1972 American Epic film, epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who co-wrote the screenplay with Mario Puzo, based on Puzo's best-selling 1969 The Godfather (novel), novel of the same name. The film stars Marl ...

The Godfather
'', ''
Goodfellas ''Goodfellas'' (stylized ''GoodFellas'') is a 1990 American biographical crime film Crime films, in the broadest sense, is a film genre inspired by and analogous to the crime fiction literary genre. Films of this genre generally involve va ...
'', and ''
Once Upon a Time in America ''Once Upon a Time in America'' ( it, C'era una volta in America) is a 1984 epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation * Epic film, a genre of film wi ...
'' to develop into more contemplative narratives.'


Crime thriller

Crime thrillers focus on the exciting elements of both successful and unsuccessful crimes. Unlike police procedural, they focus on a criminal or a group of criminals rather than law enforcement. These films tend to focus on the violent scenes, double-crossings, robberies and murders as their central elements like highly rated '' Joseph'', '' Nayattu''.


Dacoit film

A genre of
Indian cinema Cinema of India consists of films produced in India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of ...
(including
Hindi Film Industry Hindi cinema, often known as Bollywood and formerly as ''Bombay cinema'', is the Indian Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). The term is a portmanteau of "Bombay" and "Cinema of the United States, Hollywood". The ...
) revolving around
dacoity Dacoity is a term used for "banditry 250px, Carmine Crocco's lieutenant Agostino Sacchitiello and members of his band from Bisaccia, Campania photographed in 1862 Banditry is a type of organized crime committed by outlaws typically involving t ...
. The genre was pioneered by
Mehboob Khan Mehboob Khan (born Mehboob Khan Ramzan Khan; 9 September 1907
at filmreference.com.
– 28 M ...
's '' Aurat'' (1940) and ''
Mother India ''Mother India'' is a 1957 Indian epic film, epic Drama (film and television), drama film, directed by Mehboob Khan and starring Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Rajendra Kumar, and Raaj Kumar. A remake of Khan's earlier film ''Aurat (1940 film), Aurat'' ( ...
'' (1957). Other examples include ''
Gunga Jumna ''Ganga Jamna'', also transliterated as ''Ganga Jamuna'' or ''Gunga Jumna'', is a 1961 Indian crime drama Crime films, in the broadest sense, is a film genre inspired by and analogous to the crime fiction literary genre. Films of this genre gen ...
'' (1961), ''
Sholay ''Sholay'' (, ) is a 1975 It was also declared the '' International Women's Year'' by the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international secu ...
'' (1975) and ''
Bandit Queen ''Bandit Queen'' is a Bollywood films of 1996, 1996 Indian biographical film based on the life of Phoolan Devi as covered in the book ''India's Bandit Queen: The True Story of Phoolan Devi'' by the Indian author Mala Sen. It was written,produce ...
'' (1994).


Gangster film

See also ''Yakuza'' film Gangster films are films that glorify the criminal activities of
gangsters A gangster is a crime, criminal who is a member of a gang. Most gangs are considered to be part of organized crime. Gangsters are also called mobsters, a term derived from ''Criminal organization, mob'' and the suffix ''wikt:-ster, -ster''. Gan ...
, often elevating them to heroes in their stories. The gangster film is among the oldest genres of films, with examples dating as early as ''
Underworld upThe legs of the god seven_realms_of_the_Hindus.html" "title="Patala#Hinduism.html" "title="Cosmic_Man.html" ;"title="Vishnu as the Cosmic Man">Vishnu as the Cosmic Man depict earth and the Patala#Hinduism">seven realms of the Hindus">Hind ...
'', '' Little Caesar'' and '' Scarface''. After World War II, these films became increasingly violent and menacing with films like ''
Underworld USA ''Underworld U.S.A.'' (also known as ''Underworld USA'') is a 1961 American neo-noir crime film produced, written and directed by Samuel Fuller. It tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy who goes to enormous lengths to get revenge against the ...
''. These films also were made outside the United States in Hong Kong, Japan and France.


Heist film

This film deals with a group of criminals attempting to perform a theft or robbery, as well as the possible consequences that follow. Heist films that are lighter in tone are called "Caper films". Examples include ''
The Killing Killing or Killings may refer to: Types of killing *-cide, a suffix that refers to types of killing (see List of types of killing), such as: ** Homicide, one human killing another *** Murder, unlawful killing of another human without justification ...
'', '' Oceans 11'', ''
Dog Day Afternoon ''Dog Day Afternoon'' is a 1975 American Biographical film, biographical crime drama film directed by Sidney Lumet and produced by Martin Bregman and Martin Elfand. The film stars Al Pacino, John Cazale, James Broderick, and Charles Durning. The ...

Dog Day Afternoon
'', ''
Reservoir Dogs ''Reservoir Dogs'' is a 1992 American crime film Crime films, in the broadest sense, is a film genre inspired by and analogous to the crime fiction literary genre. Films of this genre generally involve various aspects of crime and its dete ...

Reservoir Dogs
'', and '' The Town''.


Mumbai underworld

An
Indian cinema Cinema of India consists of films produced in India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of ...
crime film genre, often produced in
Hindi Film Industry Hindi cinema, often known as Bollywood and formerly as ''Bombay cinema'', is the Indian Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). The term is a portmanteau of "Bombay" and "Cinema of the United States, Hollywood". The ...
. The genre frequently draws inspiration from real
Mumbai underworld Organised crime in India is a reference to organised crime elements originating in India and active in many parts of the world. The purpose of organised crime in India, as elsewhere in the world, is monetary gain. Its virulent form in modern ti ...
gangsters, such as
Haji Mastan Mastan Mirza (1 March 1926 25 June 1994), popularly known as Haji Mastan and sultan mirza, was an Indian mafia gang leader, originally from Tamil Nadu Tamil Nadu () is a States and union territories of India, state in southern India. Its ca ...
,
Dawood Ibrahim Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar (; born 26 December 1955) is an unapprehended Indian gangster and drug kingpin from Dongri, Mumbai. He reportedly heads the Indian organised crime syndicate, D-Company, which he founded in Mumbai in the 1970s. Ibrahim is ...
and
D-Company D-Company is a name coined by the Indian media for the Mumbai underworld organized criminal syndicate founded and controlled by Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian mafia boss, drug dealer and wanted terrorist. In 2011, Ibrahim, along with his D-Compa ...
. The genre was pioneered by
Salim–Javed Salim–Javed were an Indian screenwriting duo, composed of Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, working in Bollywood. They are noted for being the first Indian screenwriters to achieve star status, becoming the most successful Indian screenwriters of ...
's '' Zanjeer'' (1973) and ''
Deewaar ''Deewaar'' () is a List of Bollywood films of 1975, 1975 Indian Action film, action crime drama film written by Salim–Javed (Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar), directed by Yash Chopra, and starring Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Neetu Singh, Ni ...
'' (1975), starring
Amitabh Bachchan Amitabh Bachchan (; born Inquilaab Srivastava; 11 October 1942) is an Indian people, Indian film actor, film producer, television host, occasional playback singer and former politician. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most influentia ...

Amitabh Bachchan
. Other examples include the ''
Don Don, don or DON and variants may refer to: Places *Don, BeninDon is a town in Benin, Africa. It has a population of 696,969. Nearest large airports are Cadjehoun Airport, Cotonou Cadjehoun in Cotonou and Lomé-Tokoin Airport, Lomé-Tokoin in Lom ...
'' franchise (19782012), ''
Nayakan ''Nayakan'' (; ) is a 1987 Indian Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysians, Tamil people native to Mal ...
'' (1986), ''
Salaam Bombay! ''Salaam Bombay!'' is a List of Bollywood films of 1988, 1988 Indian film, Indian Hindi-language crime drama film, directed, co-written and co-produced by Mira Nair. The screenwriter was Nair's creative collaborator Sooni Taraporevala. This was t ...

Salaam Bombay!
'' (1988), ''
Parinda ''Parinda'' () is a 1989 Indian Hindi Hindi ( Devanagari: हिन्दी, IAST/ ISO 15919: ''Hindī''), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi ( Devanagari: मानक हिन्दी, IAST/ ISO 15919: ''Mānak Hindī''), i ...
'' (1989), ''
Satya ''Satya'' (Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language of South Asia that belongs to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after ...
'' (1998), ''
Company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Legal person, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective. Company members share a common pu ...
'' (2002), ''
Black Friday Black Friday may refer to: Events Recurring days * Black Friday (partying), the last Friday before Christmas in the United Kingdom * Black Friday (shopping), the day following Thanksgiving in the United States * Friday the 13th or Black Friday * G ...
'' (2004), ''
Slumdog Millionaire ''Slumdog Millionaire'' is a 2008 British drama film In film and television show, television, drama is a category of narrative fiction (or docudrama, semi-fiction) intended to be more serious than humour, humorous in tone. Drama of this ki ...
'' (2008) and ''
Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai ''Once Upon a Time in Mumbai'' is a 2010 Indian Hindi-language gangster film written by Rajat Arora and directed by Milan Luthria. It stars Ajay Devgan, Emraan Hashmi, Kangana Ranaut, Prachi Desai and Randeep Hooda. Produced by Ekta Kapoor unde ...
'' (2010).


Police procedural

Police procedurals have remained a mainstay with ''
He Walked By Night ''He Walked by Night'' is a 1948 American police procedural film noir directed by Alfred L. Werker and an uncredited Anthony Mann. The film, shot in semidocumentary tone, was loosely based on newspaper accounts of the real-life actions of Erwin Wa ...
'', '' In the Heat of the Night'', ''
Madigan ''Madigan'' is a 1968 American neo-noir Neo-noir is a revival of the genre of film noir. The term ''film noir'' was popularized in 1955 by French critics Raymond Borde and Étienne Chaumeton. It was applied to crime films of the 1940s and 1950s, m ...

Madigan
'', and '' The French Connection''.


Prison film

The Prison film is a type of crime film that focuses on the difficult living conditions with prisons as well as occasionally focusing on inmates adjusting to life outside of prison. The films tend to only show graphic films where crime run rampant in prison.


See also

*
Lists of crime films This is chronological list of crime films split by decade. Often there may be considerable overlap particularly between Crime and other genres (including, action film, action, thriller film, thriller, and drama (film and television), drama films); ...
*
Pre-Code crime films The era of American film production from the early sound era to the enforcement of the Hays Code The Motion Picture Production Code was a set of industry guidelines for the self-censorship of content that was applied to most United States m ...


References


Further reading

* Leitch, Thomas M. ''Crime Films''. CUP, 2002, * Rafter, Nicol. ''Shots in the Mirror: Crime Films and Society, 2nd ed.'' New York, OUP, 2006, * Spina, Ferdinando. "Crime Films". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology. 2017-08-22. Oxford University Press
Criminology and Criminal Justice
{{DEFAULTSORT:Crime Film Film genres