Top 10: Movie Detectives


As the second series of Sherlock finishes on BBC One, Emer Sugrue takes a look at what movies you can use to fill that detective-shaped hole in your heart

10. Sam Spade – The Maltese Falcon (1941)

The original hard-boiled detective, and the Bogartiest of all Humphrey Bogart’s roles. If he was any more hard-boiled he’d be a peppermint humbug.

9. Nick Charles – The Thin Man (1934)

It’s half detective film, half slapstick comedy, but all drinking binge. Although Nick and his wife do manage to solve a murder, it’s merely a distraction from all the cocktails.

8. Clarice Starling – The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

FBI academy student Clarice is in a race against time to find a serial killer, so she enlists the help of a serial killer. So outside the box, this film created a new box in which it is firmly placed twenty-one years later. This movie ruined Chianti, fava beans, and the name Clarice.

7. Will Dormer – Insomnia (2002)

This hard-bitten detective travels to Alaska to solve a murder and battle his conscious while suffering insomnia caused by the twenty-four hour sunlight. Jeez Will, just close the curtains.

6. Inspector Thomson and Constable Dexter – Gosford Park (2001)

A better breed of bumbling detective. The comic relief duo in this murder mystery accidentally but systematically destroys most of the evidence at the scene and fail to solve anything.

5. Roger Murtaugh – Lethal Weapon (1987)

This is the archetype of the buddy-cop movie and Roger Murtaugh is too old for this shit. He does it anyway. The movie is twenty-four years old, so think how badass this guy must be now.

4. Eddie Valiant – Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

This dark film noir washed-up alcoholic detective has to prove the innocence of a cartoon rabbit. It is exactly as awesome as you imagine.

3. Inspector Clouseau – The Pink Panther (1963)

A return to the bumbling side of things with Peter Seller’s French police detective. His attempt to foil the theft of the titular Pink Panther diamond ends with him in prison for the crime. The original and the best.

2. Doctor Watson – Sherlock Holmes (2009)

The first film in decades to avoid ‘Stupid Watson’. While Dr. Watson was an intelligent and insightful man in the books, second only to Holmes’ genius deductions, most adaptations skewed him into a bumbling idiot who couldn’t figure out a murder if the victim had written the killer’s name is five-foot letters in blood in Watson’s own kitchen, thus allowing Holmes to provide endless smug extrapolation. The latest reboot restored him to his rightful intelligence.

1. Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock Holmes (2009)

The first true detective, he can figure out your life from the ketchup stain on your tie when everyone else just figures out that you’re sloppy.