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The Best Police Movies and TV Shows on The Criterion Channel

Finding a good Police movie and TV show to watch can be hard, so we've ranked the best ones and included where to watch them. Check out our list of the best Police movies and TV shows of all time streaming on The Criterion Channel.

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1. Zodiac

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.7/10
Reelgood Logo
84/100
Released: 2007Rated: R
Crime, Thriller

What it's about: The true story of the investigation of the "Zodiac Killer", a serial killer who terrified the San Francisco Bay Area, taunting police with his ciphers and letters. The case becomes an obsession for three men as their lives and careers are built and destroyed by the endless trail of clues.

Where to Watch: Available to watch free online (PlutoTV), stream on a popular subscription service (Netflix, Paramount+ & 1 other) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play, Prime Video & 4 others).

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2. The Onion Field

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.8/10
Reelgood Logo
58/100
Released: 1979Rated: R
Crime, Drama

What it's about: An LA police officer is murdered in the onion fields outside of Bakersfield. However, legal loopholes could keep his kidnappers from receiving justice, and his partner is haunted by overwhelming survivor's guilt.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel).

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3. The Thin Blue Line

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.0/10
Reelgood Logo
69/100
Released: 1988
Drama, Documentary

What it's about: Errol Morris's unique documentary dramatically re-enacts the crime scene and investigation of a police officer's murder in Dallas.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 4 services (iTunes, Google Play & 2 others).

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4. High and Low

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.4/10
Reelgood Logo
73/100
Released: 1963
Crime, Thriller

What it's about: An executive of a shoe company becomes a victim of extortion when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped and held for ransom.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel & Kanopy) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 2 services (iTunes & Prime Video).

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5. Stray Dog

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.9/10
Reelgood Logo
67/100
Released: 1949
Thriller, Drama

What it's about: A bad day gets worse for young detective Murakami when a pickpocket steals his gun on a hot, crowded bus. Desperate to right the wrong, he goes undercover, scavenging Tokyo’s sweltering streets for the stray dog whose desperation has led him to a life of crime. With each step, cop and criminal’s lives become more intertwined and the investigation becomes an examination of Murakami’s own dark side.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel, Kanopy & FilmBox).

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6. Police Story

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.6/10
Reelgood Logo
72/100
Released: 1985Rated: PG-13
Thriller, Action & Adventure

What it's about: Officer Chan Ka Kui manages to put a major Hong Kong drug dealer behind the bars practically alone, after a shooting and an impressive chase inside a slum. Now, he must protect the boss' secretary, Selina, who will testify against the gangster in court.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 1 service (iTunes).

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7. The Day of the Jackal

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.8/10
Reelgood Logo
69/100
Released: 1973Rated: PG
Crime, Thriller

What it's about: An international assassin known as ‘The Jackal’ is employed by disgruntled French generals to kill President Charles de Gaulle, with a dedicated gendarme on the assassin’s trail.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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8. The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.4/10
Reelgood Logo
58/100
Released: 1975Rated: R
Crime, Drama

What it's about: After a chance encounter with a wanted man, a woman is harassed by the police and press until she takes violent action.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX, The Criterion Channel & Kanopy).

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9. The Naked City

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.6/10
Reelgood Logo
66/100
Released: 1948
Crime, Drama

What it's about: The Naked City portrays the police investigation that follows the murder of a young model. A veteran cop is placed in charge of the case and he sets about, with the help of other beat cops and detectives, finding the girl's killer.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX, The Criterion Channel & Kanopy) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 2 services (iTunes & Prime Video).

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10. Insomnia

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.3/10
Reelgood Logo
64/100
Released: 1997
Mystery, Thriller

What it's about: Detectives Jonas and Erik are called to the midnight sun country of northern Norway to investigate a recent homicide, but their plan to arrest the killer goes awry, and Jonas mistakenly shoots Erik. The suspect escapes, and a frightened Jonas pins Erik's death on the fugitive. Jonas continues to pursue the killer as he seeks to protect himself; however, his mounting guilt and the omnipresent sun plague him with an insomnia that affects his sanity.

Where to Watch: Available to watch free online (PopcornFlix), stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel & Kanopy) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 2 services (iTunes & Prime Video).

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11. The Steel Helmet

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.4/10
Reelgood Logo
78/100
Released: 1951
Action & Adventure, Drama

What it's about: A ragtag group of American stragglers battles against superior Communist troops in an abandoned Buddhist temple during the Korean War.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel & Kanopy) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 2 services (iTunes & Prime Video).

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12. Sapphire

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.2/10
Reelgood Logo
53/100
Released: 1959
Crime, Mystery

What it's about: Two Scotland Yard detectives (Nigel Patrick and Michael Craig) investigate the murder of a young woman of mixed race who had been passing for white. As they interview a spate of suspects -- including the girl's white boyfriend and his disapproving parents -- the investigators wade through a stubbornly entrenched sludge of racism and bigotry. Director Basil Dearden won a British Academy Award for his deft, sensitive hand at the helm.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 2 services (iTunes & Prime Video).

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13. The Castle of Sand

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.4/10
Reelgood Logo
54/100
Released: 1974
Crime, Mystery

What it's about: Two detectives are tasked to investigate the murderer of an old man, found bludgeoned to death in a rail yard.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel).

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14. Posse

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.5/10
Reelgood Logo
52/100
Released: 1975Rated: PG
Drama

What it's about: A tough marshal with political ambitions leads an elite posse to capture a notorious train robber and his gang.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (Prime Video & The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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15. The Oath

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.2/10
Reelgood Logo
52/100
Released: 2010
Drama, Documentary

What it's about: Tells the story of two men, Abu Jandal and Salim Ahmed Hamdan, whose fateful encounter in 1996 set them on a course of events that led them to Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel).

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16. Bumping Into Broadway

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.0/10
Reelgood Logo
49/100
Released: 1919Rated: G
Family, Comedy

What it's about: A young playwright spends his last cent to pay the past-due rent for the pretty dancer who's his boarding house next-door neighbor. Soon after, he winds up at a gambling club, where he wins big - just before a police raid.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & The Criterion Channel).

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17. Stakeout

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.1/10
Reelgood Logo
45/100
Released: 1958
Mystery, Drama

What it's about: Two detectives begin a stakeout based on the slim chance of catching a murderer whom they suspect will try to reunite with an old flame.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel).

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18. The Woman in Question

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.8/10
Reelgood Logo
45/100
Released: 1950
Drama, Mystery

What it's about: Director Anthony Asquith, working in the style of a Hitchcock whodunit, deftly moves between multiple points of view in this gritty look at life in a seaport town. Jean Kent stars as Agnes "Astra" Huston, a fortune teller at a run-down fair, who is found strangled in her bedroom. As the police question five suspects their interactions with her are shown in flashbacks from their point of view.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel).

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19. My Josephine

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.6/10
Reelgood Logo
43/100
Released: 2003
Drama, Comedy

What it's about: Aadid tells us his life in seven minutes. He's an Arabic-speaking young man working the night shift at a laundromat and dry cleaners somewhere in the United States. In the aftermath of 9/11, they wash U.S. flags for free. He says they get six or seven per day. He tells us about Napoleon's two wives: Marie Louise for an heir, Josephine for love. Aadid likes Adela, his co-worker. She's his Josephine. We watch Aadid and Adela hand wash the flags and put them in dryers. They fold them. They dance. They stand side by side outside the door of the laundromat looking at the dawn. Will this companionship become something more?

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel & Fandor).

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20. Man on a Swing

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.6/10
Reelgood Logo
42/100
Released: 1974Rated: PG
Crime, Thriller

What it's about: A small-town police chief investigating a murder is offered help by a self-described psychic. However, when the chief discovers that the "psychic" is in possession of information known only to the police, he suspects that the man may be more involved in the case than he lets on.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 4 services (iTunes, Google Play & 2 others).

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21. The Circus

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.1/10
Reelgood Logo
69/100
Released: 1928Rated: G
Romance, Comedy

What it's about: Charlie, a wandering tramp, becomes a circus handyman - soon the star of the show - and falls in love with the circus owner's stepdaughter.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX, The Criterion Channel, Hoopla & 1 other) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 2 services (iTunes & Prime Video).

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