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Battle Royale: Movie Detectives

Movie Detectives are a motley assortment of folks. From coppers to private eyes, from the straight-laced to the wilfully eccentric, the by-the-book to the renegades...

To celebrate the release of Sherlock Holmes, we've arranged for the World's Greatest Private Dicks to swing into the ring - but who will be crownded the greatest detective of all?

Elementary, our dear readers. Join us in a no-holds-barred, blood-soaked bout (metaphorically speaking)...

The Marlowe Show

Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) The Big Sleep (1946)

With a plot that only Raymond Chandler could really work out, this film has caused more headaches than Japanese children's animation.

Bogart’s Marlowe is slick, defined, in control at all times. He’s a man’s man, before men’s men were really men’s men.

Bogey Factor: 10

Who Killed the Chauffer? Factor: 6

Sleuth Factor: 9

Out-Marlowed by…

Philip Marlowe (Elliot Gould) The Long Goodbye (1973)

The loose cannon of the movie Marlowe portrayals, Gould’s PI is a mess. A lanky frame and limbs that threaten to break furniture, he’s disjointed, sweaty and talks like a coke addict.

The brilliance of Gould’s portrayal is in the idiosyncracies, and the way he disarms all the other characters with his wisecracking banter into believing he couldn’t tie a shoelace.

Afro Factor: 9

Ross-&-Monica’s-Dad-on-Friends-ness: 10

Sleuth Factor: 10[page-break]

Doomed Dicks

Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) Minority Report (2002)

Danny Witwer is the young buck looking to make a name for himself. He’s arrogant and also very good at his job.

In a direct nod to LA Confidential , Witwer works out the conspiracy two thirds of the way in, only to be killed when he reveals his discovery to the wrong man.

Eyebrow Wow Factor: 9

Oirishness: 10

Sleuth Factor: 9

Out manoeuvered by…

Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) LA Confidential (1997)

Jack Vincennes is a slick and charismatic cop who’s more interested in his own celebrity than doing any real police work.

When he does do some detecting though, damn he’s good - figuring out what’s going on long before Bud White and Ed Exley. Shame he blabs to the wrong person.

Dapper style: 9

Based On Dean Martin-ness: 10

Sleuth Factor: 10[page-break]

Women's Intuition

Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Freshfaced academy trainee Clarice Starling is drafted in to help catch a demented serial killer by giving another killer a reason to lick his lips.

Eagle-eared viewers will note that Lecter actually gives away Buffalo Bill’s identity during their first meeting, the fact that Starling misses it does little for her sleuth credentials, though she gets her man in the end.

Scott Glen Flirting Ability: 9

Lector Flirting Ability: 10

Sleuth Factor : 9

Out-reasoned by…

Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) Fargo (1996)

Up the duff, freezing her tits off and in no mood to be messed around, Marge is a single-minded bloodhound you certainly wouldn’t want sniffing around your dirty laundry.

With deduction skills that would give Sherlock Holmes a run for his onions, she makes the modern obsession with forensics seem like child’s computer-room play.

Bump-Watch: 10

Annoying Accent: 9

Sleuth Factor: 10 [page-break]

Tag Teams

Somerset and Mills (Morgan Freeman/Brad Pitt) Seven (1995)

Somerset is the wise mentor to Mills’ brash and cocky young upstart. They get on like Oasis and Blur, Mills too impatient and Somerset too slow.

They end up bonding, like most of us do, over a good old-fashioned sadistic serial killer. But when the kill-fella gives himself up, it chucks a spanner in the works that leaves their partnership in ruins.

Inappropriate Conduct With Partner’s Wife-ness: 7

What’s In The Box? Factor: 10

Sleuth Factor: 9

Given a jolly good hiding by...

Holmes & Watson (Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce) The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)

The original Holmes and Watson are an upstanding powerhouse of joint deductive talent, sorting out that dashed unfortunate Baskerville nonsense with plenty of time left for tea and cakes.

This version pulls no punches in depicting Holmes’ cocaine addiction either, and gives us a fully competent, non-bumbling version of Watson to counterpoint Holmes scenery-munching eccentricities.

The Butler Done It Factor: 10

Oh Watson, The Needle!-ness: 10

Sleuth Factor: 10[page-break]

Film Noir Face-Off

Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) Chinatown (1973)

One of the bleakest entries in the film-noir canon is also one of it’s most lauded films.

Polanski's murky masterpiece see Nicholson on top form as the dogged Gittes, Faye Dunaway before the face lift, Roman before the rape allegation and Robert Towne before his Tom Cruise period. All's not well that ends really not well, though.

Broken Nose Factor: 9

Blindness To Disturbing Incest: 9

Sleuth Factor: 9

Pistol-whipped by...

Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Bogey’s finest performance. The practically flawless adaptation of the book that birthed the genre.

This takes it simply because Bogey gets his man - and his mysterious statue. And because it makes us slightly nostalgic for sleazy-but-cool on-screen fag-puffing.

Cool Sounding Name Factor: 10

Hey, Weren’t You in Casablanca-ness: 10

Sleuth Factor: 10[page-break]

The Johnny Depp Round

Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Johnny Depp’s oddball New York detective is sent to the hamlet settlement of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of grisly decapitations.

He's a frequent user of new, but unproven forensic techniques like fingerprinting and autopsy.

Crane's methods are mocked by the townsfolk, and to be fair, they do seem a bit unnecessary when it turns out the culprit is not of this world.

Based Of Angela Lansbury Factor: 10

Christopher Walken Killing Ability: 7

Sleuth Factor: 9

Put in a pipe and smoked by...

Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp) From Hell (2001)

Based on Alan Moore’s acclaimed graphic novel, which in cinematic terms is like saying "it’s a bit rubbish" – Depp stars as opium-addicted Scotland Yard Detective Frederick Abberline.

Sure he falls in love with a hooker, has troubling ‘psychic’ visions and is a bit heroin happy, but he does manage to catch Jack the Ripper – something no other movie detective can claim.

Dodgy Cocker-knee Accent: 10

Catching Bilbo Baggins Ability: 10

Sleuth Factor: 10[page-break]

Someone's Missing...

Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) Angel Heart (1988)

Oh Mickey, you were so fine, you were so fine, you blew our minds… by sleeping with that girl from the Cosby Show. Who, uh, turned out to be your daughter.

Annoyingly, the missing person Harry Angel is hired to find turns out to be himself, and it takes intervention from De Niro's Devil to help him find himself when he's right there in the room all the time. Rubbish.

Lisa Bonet Bedding Ability: 10

Bedding Your Daughter Factor: 10

Sleuth Factor: 8

Found in record time by...

Patrick Kensie (Casey Affleck) Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Kensie is a working-class PI from a poor part of Boston, and with his partner/girlfriend Angie Gennaro, is hired to find a missing 4-year-old girl.

With license to manoeuvre where cops fear to go, the pair find the girl, swiped by a well-off middle-class ex-cop.

It causes a rift in the pair's relationship because Patrick decides to do the right thing, and give the girl back to her drug-using lowlife mum.

Brotherly Love Casting: 9

‘Wow This Film Is So Much More Than I Expected’ Factor: 10

Sleuth Rating: 10[page-break]

The Manhunters

Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) The Fugitive (1992)

Stealing every scene he’s in as loud and brash US Marshall Gerard, Jones is like a T-1000 upgrade. He’d track you down and he absolutely would not stop ever.

Relentless and brilliant, with a quick wit that makes him more likeable than his quarry, he still fails to capture escaped convict Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) before he can prove his own innocence. Good job, though...

Shouting Ability: 10

Face Like Old Leather Factor: 10

Sleuth Factor: 9

Tracked down and retired by…

Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) Blade Runner (1981)

Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard catches androids better than most people catch colds. Problem is, he might just be an android himself. If only he knew for sure...

Deckard wins because he gets his man in the end, meaning that Harrison Ford once again thwarts the efforts of try-hard Tommy Lee Jones.

May-Or-May-Not-Be-An-Android Factor: 10

Bedding-Sean-Young-When-She-Was-Hot-Ability: 9

Sleuth Factor: 10[page-break]

Hardboiled '70s Dicks

‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) Dirty Harry (1971)

A San Francisco cop with little regard for the rules but less regard for lawbreakers, Harry Callahan got his nickname due to the unorthodox methods he uses to get frickin' results goddammit!

The role is as iconic for the Magnum handgun and the oft misquoted lines than for Eastwood’s towering, jaw-clenching portrayal.

Feeling Lucky Factor: 9

Boy That’s A Big Gun, Or Rather ‘Hand Cannon’ Rating: 10

Sleuth Factor: 9

Human rights violated by…

Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) The French Connection (1971)

Doyle is a short-tempered, alcoholic bigot - and those are just his good qualities. But he’s a dedicated and hard-working cop who always gets the job done.

No idea why he’s called Popeye, though. Tell us in the comments!.

Killing Frenchmen Ability: 10

Partner Is Chief Brody From Jaws Factor: 10

Sleuth Factor: 10[page-break]

The Amnesiacs

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pierce) Memento (2000)

Leonard suffers from antereograde amnesia, a condition which stops him forming new memories. This makes the hunt for his wife’s killer ‘John G’ a bit difficult because he keeps forgetting stuff, like where he's just been, which of his purses is for his pension money, etc.

Trying to keep track of the facts with tattoos, polaroids and notes, it turns out he’s been hunting and killing various John G’s for months, only to forget again and begin his quest for revenge anew.

Cool Tattoos! Factor: 9

No Idea What’s Happening? Rating: 10

Sleuth Factor: 9

Forgotten by…

Dr. Edwardes, John Brown/Ballantine (Gregory Peck) Spellbound (1945)

Perhaps best remembered for the Salvador Dali-designed dream sequences, Spellbound is a complex piece of work, but a relative stroll around the block compared to Memento .

John Brown is accused of murdering Dr. Edwardes and taking his place. Using psychoanalysis and Ingrid Bergman, Brown works out that he didn’t actually kill the man, and tracks down the real killer.

Dream Interpretation Ability: 9

Boy, Dali Was A Sick Puppy Rating: 10

Sleuth Factor: 10