15 Classic Crime Movies From Before The 1980s

Everyone loves crime movies, though younger film fans today would do well to look backward. The post-World War II era remains the golden age for many movie genres, but crime films abound in this period.

The 70s, in particular, were rife with some of the greatest acting, writing, and directing in the 20th century. According to a recent online forum, people still love this golden age of crime films. Here are some you may like.

1. The Third Man (1949)

the third man 1949 movie
Image Credit: Selznick Releasing Organization.

Starring the great Orson Welles, this adaptation of a Graham Green novel follows a washed-up pulp-fiction novelist in post-war Vienna searching for his friend's killer. The Third Man laid the foundation for some of the greatest film noir detective dramas ever made.

2. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)

the good the bad and the ugly
Image Credit: United Artists and MGM.

Clint Eastwood made a name for himself in Sergio Leone's spaghetti western cycle as the man with no name, a high desert drifter who picks fights with the worst outlaws in the land. Very few movies project the atmosphere of a Sergio Leone movie: the extreme eye close-ups, sweeping pans across the desert, and the primeval soundtrack by Ennio Morricone.

3. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

bonnie and clyde 1967
Image Credit: Warner Bros.-Seven Arts.

In Peter Biskind's book Easy Riders and Raging Bulls, Bonnie and Clyde are revered as one of the most important films in modern history. The graphic violence was out of step with the traditional studio system of big-budget, sword-and-sandals epics and glitzy musicals. This was raw, fly-on-the-wall-style cinematography.

4. The Italian Job (1969)

the italian job 1969
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

“I only told you to blow the doors off,” comes Michael Caine's iconic one-liner in this British movie about a gold bullion heist in Turin. The movie's set pieces and memorable chase scene featuring three British minis make this a British comedy crime classic.

5. The French Connection (1971)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Gene Hackman is one of the greatest actors of all time and stars in arguably the best cop movie ever. If anything, viewers need to watch this film for the eponymous car-chase scene, in which his character must thwart a train jacking.

6. Dirty Harry (1971)

dirty harry clint eastwood
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Spawning Clint Eastwood's most famous line: “Go ahead, punk. Make my day,” this was the first of five Dirty Harry movies. The story of a young detective taking retribution on a cold-blooded murderer is still the stuff of legend.

7. The Godfather (1972)

the godfather 1972
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Francis Ford Coppola's magnum opus goes down as the generation's defacto favorite film. With posters adorning young men's walls everywhere for a decade, Marlon Brando's portrayal of Don Vito Corleone left a huge mark on cinematic history.

8. Superfly (1972)

superfly 1972
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The greatest thing about Superfly is the gritty sense of realism. The movie transports us to inner-city Atlanta for cocaine baron Youngblood Priest's last score before leaving the game. This was an important part of the Blaxploitation noir-crime movie cycle of that decade, spawning one of the greatest soundtracks ever recorded.

9. The Sting (1973)

thesting1 e1677106924936
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Robert Redford and Paul Newman teamed up again following Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid‘s success a few years prior. This incredible movie about two professional grifters playing high-roller poker sharks is a masterpiece.

10. Serpico (1973)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Pacino was gold in the '70s, starring in some of the best crime movies ever made. Serpico is based on the biography of real detective Frank Serpico, who fought against New York Police Department corruption.

11. Chinatown (1974)

Chinatown 1974
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Someone once quoted Jack Nickolson as saying, “I don't make movies; I make classics.” He got that right with this movie. Chinatown follows the escapades of private eye Jake Gittes in a southern Californian water rights case. Chinatown's Oscar-winning screenplay from Robert Towne is worth reading alone.

12. Death Wish (1974)

death wish 1974
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Charles Bronson owned the '70s detective revenge drama cycle. Bronson is the precursor to Liam Neeson, and most likely, he (or Chuck Norris — it is debatable) taught Neeson some of his particular skills. Death Wish is the story of an architect seeking furious retribution against those who murdered his wife

13. Frenzy (1972)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

This Alfred Hitchcock movie focuses on a serial murderer who seems to kill his female victims with a necktie. As the London police investigate the crimes, they believe they have the right suspect, but really, they have the wrong man.

14. Badlands (1973)

Badlands 1973 1
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Badlands begins as a romance movie between two young people, Kit (Martin Sheen) and Holly (Sissy Spacek) who shouldn't be together but have fallen in love in their small South Dakota town. But when their plan to run away together turns deadly, their love becomes a lot more dangerous.

15. Get Carter (1974)

Get Carter 1971 Michael Caine
Image Credit: MGM-EMI Distributors.

In Get Carter, Michael Caine plays Jack Carter, a London gangster who is investigating his brother's suspicious death. He knows the death wasn't an accident and he's going to do anything possible to get to the truth.

Source: Reddit.