Classic Crime Films

We take a look back at some of cinema’s greatest crime films…

NOW YOU SEE ME is released in Irish cinemas this week, and tells the story of a group of magicians who rob the rich and give the money back to the people. To celebrate the release of NOW YOU SEE ME, we compiled a list of some of cinema’s greatest crime films…


Not only is this bunch of thieves made up of some of the best thieves in the business, they are played by some of the best actors in the business. Add to this Ted Griffin’s wonderful screenplay and Steven Soderbergh’s slick cinematography and direction, and you have a team that will not only rob Terry Benedict’s casinos, but they will enlist his staff into helping them do it. Ocean’s Eleven is a smart and sexy team in a smart and sexy film, it’s just a shame that the sequels were not quite as well thought out.


Yes, we know that this film was remade with an all-star cast including Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron, but it’s hard to beat the 1969 original. Mobster Charlie Croker (Michael caine), sets out to rob $4 million dollars worth of gold sent to Italy, and get revenge on the Italian mafia, who killed his friend Roger. The plan consists of stealing the gold, then creating a giant traffic jam in Turin to allow the thieves to escape. The film contains the iconic Mini Cooper chase through the streets of Turin and Michael Caine’s classic line “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”. As well as this, the film has one of the best cliffhanger endings, as Croker attempts to save the gold he has stolen, as his vehicle literally hangs from the edge of a cliff. Clever.


Another classic crime caper that received the remake treatment; THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR stars Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. Crown (McQueen) is a rich businessman who masterminds a heist on a Boston bank to alleviate his boredom. Vicki (Dunaway) is an independent insurance investigator, who is contracted to investigate the heist in return for a portion of the stolen money, when it is recovered. Of course it is inevitable that Vicki and Thomas become entangled, but the story was never going to have a happy ending. Still, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR is slick, stylish and has become a cult classic.


This 1955 crime film is an adaptation of Auguste Le Breton’s novel of the same name, and the film won the accolade for best Director at the Cannes Film Festival. As well as this, the film has been described as being the inventor of the modern heist movie and was the inspiration for the original OCEAN’S ELEVEN.
The story is of an ex-con who has a nasty streak, but joins up with a gang of fellow crooks to carry out a diamond heist. The unthinkable happens, however, when the heist has gone to plan, but the son of one of the thieves is held to ransom for the return of the jewellery.
RIFIFI is praised by critics for bringing humanity to the crime genre and the influence it has had still echoes throughout cinema today.


Ben Affleck’s crime drama, based on Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves, centres on a long time thief whose feelings towards a bank manager involved in his last score complicate his the planning of his next job. As well as this, the FBI have turned their attention to him, and are determined to bring he and his crew down.
THE TOWN cemented Ben Affleck’s career as a director, and was praised as tense and smartly written. Jeremy Renner was Oscar nominated for his performance in the film, which was one of actor Pete Postlethwaite’s last screen outings before his death in 2011.

There are tons of great crime films out there, which is your favourite?

NOW YOU SEE ME is in Irish cinemas now.

Words: Brogen Hayes