Great Crime Films from the Last Recession

Posted by Michael Pinto on Oct 10, 2008 in Cinema |


Watching the economy melt down has made me think of the last time we had a good old fashioned recession, and by chance it was while the last President Bush was in office in the early 90s. However on the upside a recession can be a good thing as it forces film makers to turn away from high budget wonders and forces them to get creative with their story telling skills. In fact the last recession gave birth to an entire field of of indie film makers — sadly that spirit from the 90s has been replaced with mindless blockbuster special effects films. In fact if I had to place blame for this trend it would have to be with none other than George Lucas and his last trio of Star Wars films which kicked of in 1999 (frankly did he really need the money?).

But turning back to an earlier age: The early 90s forced film makers to come up with original ideas. Working without a huge special effects budget many of these films were in the crime genre which allowed them to focus on strong characters and fast paced action (this was the post-MTV era after all). It’s interesting but looking bak at that period you get a sort of silver age of crime cinema that is a nice echo of the film noir era. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Krays: This 1990 indie film from England was quite powerful. Based on a true story most of the film takes place in swinging London of the 60s, and 80s Britpop fans will live the fact that the co-stars were from the band Spandau Ballet.

Goodfellas: Made in 1990 for a budget of $25,000,000 this is one of my favorite Martin Scorsese films.

Thelma & Louise: Everyone associates Ridley Scott with Blade Runner but this 1991 film (made for $16,500,000) was a real classic.

Hard Boiled: Director John Woo kicking ass all the way! Need I say more? Filmed in 1992 on an estimated budget of $4,500,000.

Reservoir Dogs: Quentin Tarantino’s first film is as good today as it was back in 1992. Made on a budget of just $1.2 million this film proves that a solid story and good actors can trump superhero CGI epics any day.

El Mariachi: I still don’t know if I believe that this film was made for just $7,000 — but that’s not the point, what’s important is that Robert Rodriguez did an amazing job with this inventive 1992 film. This also shows that a recession is a great time for new talent to emerge, so if you’re a fanboy (or fangurl) with professional aspirations this may be your big break…

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