THIEF (1981)

“I have run out of time,” Frank softly says to Jessie, almost begging her to listen to him. He wants her to know that his time on this earth has been abnormally disrupted due to incarceration and that his life as a professional criminal has rendered a regular, natural existence impossible. In Jessie, the lady […]

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VEGA$ (1978-1981)

While Miami Vice was the small-screen project that first raised serious awareness of Michael Mann to the millions of television viewers who likely missed Thief and The Keep when they enjoyed their brief theatrical runs, his first big break occurred as the credited creator of Vega$, the ABC television series that ran a respectable three […]

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MIAMI VICE (1984-1990)

“You ever forget who you are?” Saundra Santiago’s Detective Gina Calabrese asks Detective James “Sonny” Crockett (Don Johnson) as they stand on the deck of his boat and take a brief respite from their jobs as undercover vice cops in an early episode in the first season of Miami Vice. “Darlin’,” Crockett replies with a […]

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MANHUNTER (1986)

Once waist-deep in the world of Miami Vice, executive producer Michael Mann became obsessed with the dichotomy between both the law and lawlessness and good and evil. In that series, these themes were explored through the lens of the undercover cop who has to blend both the personal and professional into one, often creating moral […]

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THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1992)

I’ve never read anything by American novelist James Fenimore Cooper, author of the book from which The Last of the Mohicans was adapted. But if Mark Twain is to be believed a decent critic of letters, I’m not missing much. Or, to be precise and on the contrary, I’m missing a lot because, as a […]

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THE KEEP (1983)

There is a scene in Michael Mann’s Thief where James Caan’s professional cat burglar takes up the standing offer from a crime syndicate to work packaged scores (ie, jobs that have already been set-up and are mostly ready to execute) in exchange for big dollars. Frank doesn’t like the idea as his is a fully […]

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THE JERICHO MILE (1979)

Tracing his incremental steps that ultimately led to theatrical features, it makes sense that Michael Mann would create his first feature film for network television. Coming off two paying gigs that made 1978 a pivotal year for the filmmaker (namely his uncredited work on Ulu Grosbard’s Straight Time and his credited creation of the television […]

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STRAIGHT TIME (1978)

In the cinematic world of Michael Mann, there are two figures who loom the largest. The first and most obvious one is Jean-Pierre Melville, French auteur whose cool visual style, obsession with the relationships between cops and criminals, and strict attention to detail and precision all informed the majority of Mann’s work. The second giant […]

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CRIME STORY (1986-1988)

In 1986, Michael Mann was having a hell of a year. The second season of Miami Vice had proven to be immensely popular, he stewarded Band of the Hand into the theaters as an executive producer, did the same for Manhunter as writer and director, and, finally, brought Crime Story to the airwaves, making him […]

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BAND OF THE HAND (1986)

The exact formula for 1986’s Band of the Hand is this: The Dirty Dozen minus seven, divided by approximately half in age, strain through Miami Vice, and a tablespoon of sugar stirred in for taste. A corny, violent, foul mouthed, junior varsity Mod Squad with an odd sense of pacing and a structure that feels […]

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