Movie Feature

Best Detective Movies

By Cinema OnlineMovies - 19 December 2011 12:01 PM | Updated 3:42 PM

Best Detective Movies

Golden Globe Awards’ winner, Robert Downey Jr. is back to reprise his role as the legendary detective, Sherlock Holmes, in Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows”.

In this second instalment, the renaissance Iron Man is back again to investigate the mysterious death of the Crown Prince of Austria, along with Dr. Watson who is played by none-other than British actor Jude Law.

As the first movie received critical reception, high hopes are being placed for the upcoming sequel arriving in cinemas. Meanwhile, to quell your curiosity and investigative adrenaline, here are some of the greatest detective films ever made!


Chinatown (1974)

Nobody can argue about Jack Nicholson’s movie performances during the last six decades, which have been sublime. From playing roles like a headstrong mental patient in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” to a man gone insane in “The Shining” to the Joker in “Batman”, not many knew that a year prior to “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, Nicholson portrayed a determined detective, J.J. “Jake” Gittes, in what people claim as the Oscar winner’s finest role to date in the movie “Chinatown”. It tells the story of a gritty detective hired by Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway), to investigate a complicated adultery case which involves incest, murder and municipal corruption. However, there is always more than meets the eye in Chinatown. The Roman Polanski’s directorial effort lead to 11 Academy Awards nominations, and it eventually won for the Best Original Screenplay. 


Se7en (1995)

The collaboration between Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt is the biggest success factor of David Fincher’s thriller, “Seven”. Freeman plays a calm detective, William Somerset, a soon-to-be-retiree who works with a rookie in the field. He is partnered up with the hot-tempered Davis Mills, played by Brad Pitt. There is no job like being a detective in a crime-filled city, but Somerset and Mills soon face their greatest challenge, where a killer is sadistically murdering his victims based on the seven deadly sins, which are gluttony, envy, lust, pride, sloth, greed and wrath. As the murders escalate, so do tensions, culminating in an unexpected confrontation between Mills and the killer. Fincher’s Somerset and Mills may not be as light-hearted as Ritchie’s Sherlock and Watson, but it is as exciting, and received a highly acclaimed reception.  


The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

Based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris, Jonathan Demme directed this Oscar-winning movie about Clarice Starling, a young FBI trainee, who seeks the advice of an imprisoned psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter in order to apprehend another serial killer, known only as "Buffalo Bill". It boosts award-winning performances from Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, in which the former plays the eager yet naive Clarice Starling, which turns out to be the perfect foil for Hopkins’ Lecter. Much like Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” the movie departs from the stereotypical detective movies, focusing more on its characters rather than the mystery, although “The Silence Of The Lambs” is definitely a darker version, climaxing in what became one of the scariest moments in film history.


Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Known for his gothic-themed films, “Sleepy Hollow” is one of Tim Burton’s successes, featuring favourite collaborator and award-winning actor, Johnny Depp. Here, Depp portrays a naive New York police constable, Ichabod Crane who is sent to investigate a series of murders in the village Sleepy Hollow by a mysterious Headless Horseman. While “Sleepy Hollow” may have a supernatural theme, the investigative elements are all present a la the first instalment of “Sherlock Holmes”, as viewers follow Crane, much like they did Holmes, who is a frequent user of new, though so far unproven investigative techniques such as finger-printing and autopsies. For its time, the movie is praised for its lavish visual design and effects, making it easier for viewers to stomach the many headless murders before Crane discovers the person behind it all.


Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

One of the more overlooked detective films, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is a departure from the dark detective films featured above, much like “Sherlock Holmes”. This is not the only similarity it shares with the famed detective, for the movie also starred Robert Downey Jr. in the lead, alongside Val Kilmer. Downey is Harry Lockhart, a petty thief posing as an actor who is brought to Los Angeles for an unlikely audition, and soon finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation along with his high school dream girl, Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan) and a detective (Val Kilmer) who has been enlisted to train him for his upcoming role. The movie is narrated by Harry, who is self-aware and discusses the events taking place in an almost meta-fictional way, which forms one of the ways the movie manages not to take itself too seriously, yet managed to remain sharp and clever with the dialogue.


Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

One of the early films that combined live-action and animation, 1988’s “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is an American fantasy-comedy-noir film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Based on Gary K. Wolf's novel, “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” the film depicts a world in which cartoon characters interact directly with human beings, and stars Bob Hoskins as an alcoholic private detective who investigates a murder involving the famous cartoon character, Roger Rabbit, who is voiced by Charles Fleischer. When Eddie Valiant is hired to investigate claims of Jessica, his toon woman wife, having an affair, what he finds out sets off a motion of events that results in Roger being framed as the main suspect in a murder, and now Eddie must find a way to help the toon prove his innocence. Despite its slapstick packaging, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” found critical success, with critics claiming that besides managing to find create groundbreaking mix of live action and animation, it also has a proper detective story to tell. 

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows opens in theatres Dec 22.


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