Bruce K. Riordon at CrimeReads.com looks back at how police procedurals have evolved and he highlights 12 movies and TV series.
All such lists are subjective, and I concur with Mr. Riordon’s pick of The French Connection, Bullitt, Serpico, The Wire and others. But I would knocked off a couple and added The Prince of the City, a truly great film that was based on a true story. I would have also added Fuzz, which was perhaps the best film adaptation of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct police procedural series.
Once cannot talk about police procedurals, it seems to me, without mentioning the late, great crime writer Ed McBain. (And Fuzz started Burt Reynolds, who recently passed).
Since 1968, when first shot into theaters turning Steve McQueen and his Ford Mustang Fastback into global icons, the “police procedural” has been a staple of crime stories on screens big and small. ’s smashing success, both commercially and artistically, ushered in the first “Golden Age” of the police procedural. The genre’s mainstream popularity has ebbed and flowed since those heady days, but for crime aficionados, it has never faded. Towards the end of the ‘Aughts, the procedural was disappearing from the big screen, as Hollywood became increasingly preoccupied with cartoon super-heroes. Movie studios had little interest in the gritty social realism and visceral excitement that a great cop story provides.