What movies or TV shows feature the quintessential police interrogation scenes?
May 8, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

What movies or TV shows feature the quintessential police interrogation scenes?

Hey gang! I'm looking for some visual inspiration for a project; I'd like to watch some films or cop-drama TV shows that feature that oh-so-clich├ęd scene of one or two detectives questioning a suspect in an interrogation room.

Any suggestions are very welcome, including parodies or comedic takes on such a scene. I want to watch examples to get a sense of shots, camera angles, blocking, staging, etc, so I can try to film something deliberately similar, so please chime in with anything you think is a good, classic example from the last 20-30 years or so.

Thanks in advance!
posted by chudmonkey to Media & Arts (42 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow, there are tons of these. Law & Order, any of the CSI's, even the Matrix has a scene like that in it!
posted by Grither at 9:03 AM on May 8, 2012


Law and Order, every single episode.
posted by empath at 9:03 AM on May 8, 2012


If you're looking for a silly take on it, you want the episode of Community that skewers Law & Order.

If you want serious with pitch-perfect writing, you want any of the last 5-6 seasons of NYPD Blue. Any scene with Dennis Franz and whoever his partner happens to be at the time.
posted by jbickers at 9:04 AM on May 8, 2012


The Shield
Seven
Usual Suspects
posted by haplesschild at 9:05 AM on May 8, 2012


Chappelle's Show
posted by girlmightlive at 9:05 AM on May 8, 2012


The Shield, The Wire, LA Confidential.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:07 AM on May 8, 2012


Homicide: Life on the Street had a lot of scenes in The Box, and did an excellent job with it. In particular, the Emmy-Ward-winning first season episode "Three Men and Adena" takes place almost entirely in the interrogation room.
posted by theatro at 9:07 AM on May 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


NYPD Blue, in its treatment of 'tuning up the suspect' (beating), was a game changer. The Wire is similarly candid about the fucked up process of police interrogation.
posted by waxbanks at 9:08 AM on May 8, 2012


Homicide: Life on the Street (Pembleton, especially)
posted by jeffch at 9:08 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The scene where Batman interrogates the Joker in The Dark Knight is a pretty good variation on the theme.
posted by griphus at 9:09 AM on May 8, 2012


The Wire.

Any requirement as to whether the show is from the police's point of view or the suspect's?
posted by RobotHero at 9:09 AM on May 8, 2012


Seinfeld: The Trip (Part 2). Kramer is interrogated.
posted by John Cohen at 9:10 AM on May 8, 2012


Also, is it crucial that it's two detectives?
posted by RobotHero at 9:11 AM on May 8, 2012


The Closer
posted by haplesschild at 9:12 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, is it crucial that it's two detectives?

Question says one or two.

Another from The Wire.
posted by LionIndex at 9:13 AM on May 8, 2012


Agreed on all the Homicide recommendations. There's a 4th season episode, I think it's "Autofocus," where the station has temporarily moved and Pembleton is complaining about the new interrogation room. That might give you some ideas.
posted by maurice at 9:15 AM on May 8, 2012


If one is okay, then episode 4 of FLCL.
posted by RobotHero at 9:17 AM on May 8, 2012


No real requirements as far as perspective or number of cops or anything, my thanks to those who asked. I also really appreciate the suggestions of specific episodes of shows, but of course I understand those can be hard to remember. Thanks, all!
posted by chudmonkey at 9:18 AM on May 8, 2012


LA Confidential
posted by goethean at 9:19 AM on May 8, 2012


Relevant TV Tropes entry.
posted by griphus at 9:21 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Came in here to say L.A. Confidential. Guy Pearce's interrogation scene is a great example of pre-Miranda style.

But let's not forget the interrogation scene with Pearce's co-star from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:25 AM on May 8, 2012


Season 1 episode 4 of Black Books.

any of Prime Suspect
posted by edgeways at 9:28 AM on May 8, 2012


In Cold Blood.
posted by BibiRose at 9:29 AM on May 8, 2012


Mystic River also had a great interrogation scene with Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne and Tim Robbins, where Robbins' character proves to be much smarter than the cops think he is.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:30 AM on May 8, 2012


Breakfast on Pluto, though the interrogation has unexpected results.
posted by Lieber Frau at 9:33 AM on May 8, 2012


The Closer - the very premise of the show is that the lead character is so good at interrogation that she can close out the case by interviewing the suspect.

Every episode features an intense interrogation sense where she trips up and confuses the suspect, forcing them to admit things, then slamming them home to get a confession.
posted by Flood at 9:35 AM on May 8, 2012


Its a bit older than you asked for, but you can't get much more quintessential than Dragnet, even if Joe Friday never actually said "Just the facts, ma'am".
posted by TedW at 9:36 AM on May 8, 2012


Rockstar released an entire game about this called LA Noire, as well.
posted by empath at 9:37 AM on May 8, 2012


The First 48 has many scenes of actual interrogations.
posted by The Deej at 9:54 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


You could do a lot worse than the pilot episode of The Shield.
posted by mmascolino at 9:58 AM on May 8, 2012


The Interrogation is a classic episode of Dragnet. Virtually the entire episode is set in the interrogation room with Friday and Gannon questioning a rookie police officer who has been accused of a crime. Corny, yes, but Friday's "What is a cop?" speech still has some relevance today.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:33 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Venture Bros. Season 3 Episode 12 (or 13, it's a 2 part finale) has a parody of such a scene.
posted by Green With You at 10:34 AM on May 8, 2012


Castle is full of 'em, usually two detectives (well, one cop and one writer).
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:43 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Law & Order, season 2, episode 16, "Vengeance", features an extended interrogation where the suspect (played by James Rebhorn) is questioned for hours before finally breaking down.
posted by hmo at 10:52 AM on May 8, 2012


Seconding Prime Suspect.
posted by scody at 10:57 AM on May 8, 2012


There is a great Aussie film that takes place pretty much entirely in an interrogation room it is not a police procedural per se (and it has a few twists) but it is a damn good film and the psychology, writing and acting is amazing. It's called The Interview
posted by wwax at 11:25 AM on May 8, 2012


My recommendations are Homicide: Life on the Streets and Dragnet.

My favorite is when Munch uses the copier as a lie detector. But I'm warped.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:28 AM on May 8, 2012


For some reason, the first thing that came into my head was the first scene in Blade Runner. It's certainly a very different sort of interrogation.
posted by selfnoise at 11:32 AM on May 8, 2012


Homicide: Life on the Street - The Documentary (IMDB) is an excellent POV clip that puts you in the chair to be interrogated by the detectives.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:30 PM on May 8, 2012


Life on Mars offered gritty enactments of British police interrogations in the 1970s, with a tongue usually inserted in cheek thanks to some excellent writing. The 1980s sequel Ashes to Ashes had a nice update to it. If you're looking at how styles/ techniques have changed this would give you a good look at how the same characters have coped within an evolving police force.
IMDB
posted by caffeinebomb at 4:49 PM on May 8, 2012


My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Party of One. What? I have kids.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:30 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


My father was a high school principal and apparently he learned how to get information out of naughty school kids from watching a lot of the British series The Bill. I can't remember any specific episodes, but it was a pretty standard police procedural and interviewing/interrogating suspects happened pretty regularly.
posted by shelleycat at 12:09 AM on May 9, 2012


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