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Crime Movie Database 1970 to 2014

Since Edwin Porter's The Great Train Robbery (1903), the crime movie genre and movie industry dramatically changed and expanded. A plethora of academics and journalists cover the importance of crime films as well as the influence in socially constructing crime, offenders, victims, law enforcement, and criminal justice professionals themes, archetypes, and criminology theories. However, while there are lists of the Top 100 Crime Movies, Top 25 Mafia Movies, or websites like that houses information on all movies, there lacks a comprehensive list of crime movies. To fill this lacuna and to promote knowledge and understanding, we published this Crime Movie Database containing movies from 1970 to 2014 as a tool to be utilized in classrooms, by crime movie buffs, for those looking for a good flick, or those wishing to explore thoughts and beliefs surrounding the players in the criminal justice system.

For this database, a crime film will be:

  • Films that are produced within the United States of America unless the film’s presence is listed as influential across several sources as being a key crime film, with significant crossover at the box office, i.e., A Clockwork Orange

  • Released between 1970 and 2014

  • Must be classified as a “crime” genre movie by IMDb or within the sub-genres of crime film (courtroom dramas, detective, mystery, film noir, thriller, suspense, Blaxploitation, buddy cop, caper stories, cops and robbers, crime comedy, espionage, femme fatales, gangs, heist, hood films, juvenile delinquency, lovers on the run road films, organized crime, neo-noir, prison films, and true crime), or it must depict the plotting of, solving, or the surrounding events within the elements of a crime.

Exclusions: most foreign films, the sub-genres of war crimes, state crimes, made for television movies, films not released in theaters.

The information included in the database included the movie's title, year of release, running time, rating by the Motion Picture Association of America, director’s name, key actors, keywords, and IMDb user rating, and an original short synopsis (one to two sentences). This is to give the reader a quick and concise overview and opportunity to decide if they would like to learn more. If they wish to do so, there is a link for the IMDB page for that movie listed.

While we hope that we are all-encompassing within this genre for the period specified, we also recognize that we are human and might have missed something. Please email us at and let us know if a movie should be considered for listing within this database. We hope to continue to expand this list over time and ask for your patience in advance.

*References available upon request.

Joelle's special thanks:

My first foray back into the academic world brought me into Dr. Shawn Schwaner's classroom where he reminded me why I love the study of criminal justice. He molded me back into the student I once was and helped to develop my love for the study of Crime and the Media. In his class, I studied Dr. Ray Surrette's wonderfully written book, "Media, Crime, and Criminal Justice: Images, Realities, and Policies." Those two forces together evoked a passion about spreading the message regarding the use of media and its influence on our perceptions of the criminal justice system and its players.

In my Ph.D. program at Florida International University, Dr. Jamie Flexon allowed me to explore my crazy idea and passion project in creating the shell of this database. Her encouragement and advice led to the very early stages of this project. As I write this post, it is her voice that I hear inside my head. Her voice to complete the task is also the same reason I enlisted my co-authors.

To Chris, Erik, and Parry, thank you for coming on this ride with me. For agreeing to be a part of this undertaking, even while completing our comprehensive exams, dissertation proposals, dissertations, or working at full-time jobs. This database would not exist without you.

This is dedicated to all of those teachers that inspire and innovate in your classrooms. Thank you for believing in students and giving them hope.

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