"Crime Story" is Michael Mann's ode to fedora hats, wingtip shoes, cars with tail fins, swinging jazz and rock & roll. The story is populated with crooks who talk smooth and fight dirty, and cops who talk tough and fight dirtier. From here.

Envisaged as hours of television that would make up a single movie, "Crime Story" is a very early example of a TV series with truly epic scope. Twice as long as all the Godfather movies combined it tells the story of organized crime in a way not often seen – from both sides of the law. Lieutenant Mike Torello (Dennis Farina, a real Chicago cop from the '60s) heads up Chicago’s MCU – the Major Crime Unit. It’s 1963 and units like this are few and far between in America, but Chicago is a city that can’t shake the legacy of Al Capone, and Torello is well aware that most of the serious crimes in the city can be traced back to a handful of men. Ray Luca (Anthony Denison) knows it too, and he wants to be one of those men. Although when we first meet him he’s a nobody on the Chicago crime scene he’s got his eyes on the top spots and the big money, and luckily for him he knows all the right people to make friends with. Unfortunately though, after shooting a cop who was following him in the back of the head, he’s managed to make himself a rather large enemy in the shape of Mike Torello, who’s going to stop at nothing to see him brought to justice. From here.

Torello is an incorruptible, highly strung and violent cop who's basically a good guy, dedicated to fighting crime and injustice, but is so obsessed with taking down the rising mob star that he loses almost everything in the process, a classic story. From here.

To achieve the period look of the show, the design team would go to second-hand and antique stores, run advertisements in newspapers seeking articles from the period, and sometimes build furniture if they could not find it. According to Hilda Stark, the overall design or look of the show featured "a lot of exaggerated lines. We go for high style – sleek lines... We go for the exaggerated shapes that recall the era". Stark and her team also came up with a color scheme for the show that featured "saturated color, and certain combinations – black, fuchsias – reminiscent of the '50s". She found inspiration from a library of old books and magazines, in particular Life. For the vintage cars in the show, they bought or rented from private owners.

Del Shannon sang a revised version of his hit "Runaway" as the theme song. From Wikipedia.

From the opening reverbing electric-guitar notes to the neon and '50s cars "coming to life" in the Chicago night you are hooked! And it lives up to that promise. As Richard Zoglin wrote, it was "the most realistic TV cop show in years" (at least the Chicago episodes were; naturally they're Farina's faves) with "a grim, pounding energy", Mann is a master of using "flashy visuals and a thumping rock soundtrack to transform familiar cops-and-robbers tales into moody morality plays" and Torello "a man imbued with righteous passion". Not only is it a classic tough-guy story about vengeance and two men out to destroy each other but a good look at America right before the late '60s ruined everything. There was lots of evil but the good guys were still in charge. The world was a better place when Torello worked in the streets. – John




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