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Crime Story (Pilot Episode) (1986)

Dennis Farina , Tony Denison , Abel Ferrara  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Dennis Farina, Tony Denison, Bill Smitrovich, Steve Ryan, Billy Campbell
  • Directors: Abel Ferrara
  • Writers: Chuck Adamson, David J. Burke, Gustave Reininger
  • Producers: Ervin Zavada, Gusmano Cesaretti, Michael Mann, Peter R. McIntosh
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: September 19, 2000
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305971757
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,243 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Crime Story (Pilot Episode)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Though Hill Street Blues got all the awards and Miami Vice got all the attention, for some viewers it's the short-lived Crime Story (the second series produced by Vice's Michael Mann) that stands as tall as the great cop show of the 1980s. Set to a gritty rock & roll beat--with Del Shannon's "Runaway" providing the perfect theme song--the series chronicled the early '60s rise of gangster Ray Luca (Anthony John Dennison) and his hounding by hard-boiled policeman Michael Torrello (Denis Farina, who will never have another part this good). Save for the show's eventual relocation to Las Vegas, the Chicago-based pilot, expertly helmed by cult director Abel Ferrara, lines up all the elements that made Crime Story a classic: vivid performances, slick photography, brutal violence, and a genuine sense of the moral murk cops can be sucked into when they feel that any method is justified. Indeed, it's often Torrello, given to back-alley beatings and possessive stares at his wife (Darlanne Fleugel), who seems the scarier of the two leads; Luca kills without compunction, but with an assassin's dispassionate celerity. Such complexity, combined with the exciting action scenes, makes for wonderful viewing, however much it hurt with the Nielsen ratings. --Bruce Reid

Product Description

Chicago, 1963: Lieutenant Mike Torello (Dennis Farina) is a hair-triggered cop who can bend the law and pummel punks in the same breath. Ray Luca (Anthony Denison) is a ruthless young gangster on the rise in the vicious Chicago underworld. Together, these two desperate men will turn the streets of Chicago into their own personal battlefield of justice, revenge, and murder. David Caruso, Stephen Lang, Darlanne Fluegel, and Bill Campbell co-star in this stunning pilot feature from executive producer Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Heat) and director Abel Ferrara (King of New York, Fear City) that launched the cult classic television series.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No more VHS or Quality Extended Play! August 18, 2000
By A Customer
Two of my favourite shows of the Eighties were Crime Story (1986-1988)and Wiseguy (1987-1990). Both shows introduced the Arc format in which a compelling story was told over a number of episodes. Wiseguy kept it to around 10 (at most) but I remember reading an article in which the creators' of Crime Story envision each season as a 22 chapter novel.
Back in the early 90's STARMAKER released the entire series on ten video tapes entitled Crime Story: The Complete Saga. This was fantastic at the time since I did not tape CS when it was on NBC. Some tapes were only 96 minutes (Pilot, Vol 5: Luca's Fall) but others lasted 144-288 minutes or higher (Part 2: The Mafia War, Part 9: Damaging Testimony). I believe these tapes may still be available on Amazon in the VHS section. Its fun to watch such notable actors as Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Julia Roberts, Laura San Giacoma, Gary Sinise (who also directed episodes of the show)and more early in their careers.
Unfortunately, the video quality of these tapes were substandard as they were duplicated in something called Quality Extended Play which is really just SLP mode. And of course tracking became an issue depending on the quality of your VHS player.
This has changed with the impending release of the Crime Story pilot on DVD. Although it appears to be a bare bones "movie-only" edition the video and audio can only be improved upon. Also, it appears Anchor Bay has taken care in creating new artwork for the DVD. Oddly enough, it looks like Anthony Denison is the good guy (Torello) instead of Luca. Perhaps this has occurred because of Farina's roles in such films as Midnight Run and Get Shorty?
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Television At It's Best September 2, 2000
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As with the other folks above, I remember watching Crime Story each week during it's two years on the air. It made TV bearable for a little while; remember, this show came in the days of such "classics" as Who's the Boss and The A-Team. The last couple of episodes of season one blew me away; a story arc that lasted a season with all the loose ends being tied up in an finale that was definitely unconventional.
I own the boxed VHS set from Starmaker. Although it is nice to have the entire run in one collection, the picture quality leaves something to be desired. Also, it is nearing the end of it's shelf life (the average for VHS is about 15 years) so a DVD set would be very welcome.
Thanks to Anchor Bay for taking the time to put this gem back on the market and here's hoping they release the rest of the series.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Untouchables on acid October 9, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Before he directed some of my favorite films (Heat, The Insider, Manhunter), Michael Mann created two groundbreaking television series. Miami Vice got most of the viewers but its Crime Story that was truly ahead of its time. Crime Story dealt with Lt. Torello (played by Dennis Farina with a grimness that always allowed a sly wit to shine through) who fought organized crime on the streets of Chicago in the 1950's. His main nemesis is aspiring mobster Luca, himself a fascinating portrait of evil who somehow always managed to be somehow sympathetic in his raw need to be a true crime lord. Even while playing hommage to the crime shows of the past (I always thought of it as the Untouchables if Eliot Ness ended up having a nervous breakdown halfway through the series), Crime Story redefined the genre. It went over the head of most viewers but now, after films like Pulp Fiction changed the way we view entertainment, Crime Story has been rediscovered and its about time. Even as the show's talented cast of character actors dispensed the melodrama with a sly wink at the few members of the audience lucky enough to be in on the joke, the violence was often amazingly intense but never played for cheap thrills. As well, Crime Story had a simply amazing soundtrack. In fact, I first started watching it mostly to hear the wonderful rendition of Del Shannon's "Runaway" over the opening credits but each show was scored with some of the best blues I've ever heard and it created a moody atmosphere that, quite simply, sucked you in. If you're a fan of the crime genre but haven't seen Crime Story, do yourself a favor and track it down. This pilot film is a great place to start on what, I promise, will be one of the most entertaining rides of your life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars gritty Ellroy-esque crime show July 8, 2003
By Cubist
Crime Story is a a lean, mean cop show drama that features politically incorrect police officers battling it out with nasty criminals.
It's a testimony to Michael Mann's reputation at the time that Crime Story was even greenlighted. NBC would have never gone for the casting of Dennis Farina, with his pockmarked face and lack of acting experience, had Mann been a neophyte producer with no proven track record. The choice of cult film director Abel Ferrara (pre-Bad Lieutenant) must have also freaked out network execs. His previous films included a deranged psycho gruesomely killing people with a power tool and a rape survivor viciously killing the men who attacked her with a .45 pistol.
And yet, the final product proves that Mann's instincts were right on the money. Farina delivers the hard-boiled dialogue with the perfect amount of intensity (at one point Farina says menacingly to one goon, "you hurt anybody else, when this is all over I'm gonna find what you love the most and I'm gonna kill it. Your mother, your father, your dog. Don't matter what it is -- it's dead."). You can see it in his eyes and the way he barks out orders that this a no-nonsense guy who isn't going to let anything get in the way of his job.
Ferrara directs with the same proficient skill of crime auteur, Don Siegel. Crime Story depicts a harsh world where life is cheap and characters will do anything -- even if it means bending or breaking the law -- to achieve their goals.
One of the most striking aspects about Crime Story is that it feels like it was ripped right from the pages of a James Ellroy novel. It is even more surprising that this show was done before Ellroy had written his famous L.A. Quartet of books that features L.A. Confidential, which Crime Story most closely resembles.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Like pretending there was only one "The Matrix" movie
You don't want to watch the rest of the episodes after this climactic one... Stop here and savor the completeness of the story arc. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Mark Paul Suszko
3.0 out of 5 stars Crying now over EP taping of "Crime Story"
I have all 42 episodes + taped myself from first time around thru 3rd showing in syndication. But since they are mostly in EP to save tape hours, I cannot burn onto DVD. Read more
Published on October 25, 2009 by J_Christy
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Quality DVD
Don't be fooled by these other reviews. I've bought the DVD sets, all of the CRIME STORY series, and the quality is terrible, practically a blurred picture, not really worth the... Read more
Published on March 18, 2009 by Robert Cyr
5.0 out of 5 stars Awsome TV series
I love Crime Story. I grew up watching it as a kid and I'am glad I finally found it at Amazon. This pilot movie rock and rolls. Read more
Published on October 28, 2003 by Chris J. Visconti
5.0 out of 5 stars Before the Soprano's there was...CRIME STORY!!!
Crime Story. It was Miami Vice but for Italians. If you don't know what I'm saying then forgedboudit!!! Read more
Published on September 14, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Yeah!!!
Oh my Gawd!! I had no idea this was on DVD!! This was one of the best TV shows of the '80s and deserved a longer life. If you're thinking of getting it do not hesitate. Get it. Read more
Published on April 23, 2003 by Europa
4.0 out of 5 stars Set My Series Free!!!!!!
I don't know what gets into the studios sometimes. This was one of my favorite series at the time I would not miss a week night that it was on. Read more
Published on February 18, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good As TV Gets
It only took a couple of seconds to know that this was going to be great. By the opening credits, I was hooked by the characters, the action, and the style. Read more
Published on March 12, 2002 by Bret Wunderli
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Series
One of the Best TV series of the 80s. Too bad it only ran 2 seasons. Thanks to A&E for the reruns, but agree DVD of entire series is the way to go. Read more
Published on March 9, 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Crime Story
While I am a transplant to Chicaga (the way the locals say it) the 'real' feel of the locations seep into this video. Read more
Published on November 27, 2001 by Albert Bear
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