Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: The Chicago Way: Crime Story back on DVD for its 25th Anniversary

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Chicago Way: Crime Story back on DVD for its 25th Anniversary

by Tony Dayoub

Clockwise from top: Stephen Lang (as David Abrams), Anthony Denison (as Ray Luca), Darlanne Fluegel (as Julie Torello), Dennis Farina (as Lt. Mike Torello)
On September 18, 1986, director Michael Mann (Heat) made good on his promising career in TV and film with the debut of his new period cops-and-robbers saga, Crime Story. Not only did Crime Story’s feature-quality production design live up to that of its TV antecedent, Mann’s stylish Miami Vice; Crime Story also fulfilled its aim to present a morally complex world in which it was often difficult to tell those who broke the law from those who upheld it. Set in 1963, the show explores the multiple facets of a young hood’s rise to power in the Chicago Mob through the viewpoints of its three protagonists. Ray Luca (Anthony Denison) is the pompadoured criminal quickly ascending the ranks of the “Outfit.” Lieutenant Mike Torello (Dennis Farina) is the cop in charge of Chicago’s Major Crime Unit (or MCU) who bends the law in the service of justice. And David Abrams (Stephen Lang) is the idealistic young lawyer caught between the two men and their obsessive cat-and-mouse game. Today, a little over 25 years since its premiere, Crime Story: The Complete Series (Image Entertainment) comes out on DVD. At press time, review copies were not made available, so it’s impossible to ascertain if any improvements have been made over the questionable video quality of previous iterations. But this short-lived series, an influential precursor to the well-written serials littered throughout cable this decade (i.e., The Sopranos, Mad Men, Justified, and others), is worth owning despite any potential issues with its digital transfer.



Larry Taylor said...

I a gonna have to check this out, this is part of Mann's career I had no idea existed. Thanks!

Aden Jordan said...

As I mentioned on Twitter, I had never heard of this series or 'The Keep' until I read Taschen's book on Mann last year.

I think it's very cool that Mann often revisits similar subject matter (most obviously cops and criminals) with performers he's utilized before, including Farina, Lang, Noonan, and others.

Like most filmmakers, Mann's career has been spotty in my opinion. I think 'Thief', 'Manhunter', 'Heat', and 'Collateral' are all very accomplished films while I have no problem ignoring the rest of his work. I want to see this one and 'The Keep' to see how they fit and compare within his larger body of work.

Tony Dayoub said...

Larry, CRIME STORY is definitely a cornerstone of Mann's best work (at least its first season is). Worth going out of your way to track down.

Aden, CRIME STORY and THE KEEP are both worth a look. Although THE KEEP is actually more of an interesting failure. It does feature some nice work from Gabriel Byrne, Scott Glenn, Ian McKellen, and Alberta Watson, though.