Top Real Private Investigators: to celebrate the release of Broken City on Blu-ray and DVDBy Premier
Broken City features Mark Wahlberg as an ex-police officer turned private detective who is struggling to make ends meet. To celebrate the film’s 24 June Blu-ray and DVD release, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top real-life private investigators who were pioneers in their professions and set the standards for many of today’s top investigative agencies – such as the FBI and Scotland Yard. Without their work, we would not have many of the stories we so often see on our screens, so Broken City salutes them!
Sir John Fielding (1721-1780): Fielding served as a significant magistrate and is known for forming one of the first professional police forces, known as the Bow Street Runners in 18th century London. Despite being blinded after an unfortunate naval accident, Fielding worked and studied law with his brother. Together, the Fielding brothers helped root out corruption and improve how justice was administered to criminals in London. Fielding also established a regular publication of a ‘police gazette’ containing the names and descriptions of wanted criminals, which would be used as a basis for some of the first modern criminal records departments around the world. Also known as “Blind Beak,” it is said that Fielding was able to recognize up to 3000 criminals just by the sound of their voice.
Eugѐne François Vidocq (1775-1857): Vidocq is often referred to as one of the first full-time formal detectives. There are even claims that he is the major force behind the invention of the entire profession. Originally, Vidocq was a criminal as a young man and would eventually go on to form multiple police and detective agencies that are still in operation today. This father of criminology also used forensic science as a method to solve his crimes, decades before the science was even considered practical. His legacy inspired many to follow him, both in real life and in many fictional works.
Allan Pinkerton (1819-1884): Pinkerton was a Scottish-American detective and spy who played a significant role during the American Civil War and the years following. He served as the head of the Union Intelligence Service protecting President Abraham Lincoln when he was first elected. This would eventually become the US Secret Service. During the war, Pinkerton and his men would often act as spies to gather military intelligence for the Union Army. Many of the methods they used for undercover work are still being used in modern international and federal agencies. He is perhaps best known for the development of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, a private detective agency.
William J. Burns (1861-1932): William Burns is often referred to as the “American Sherlock Holmes.” Originally a successful member of the U.S. Secret Service, he would later go on to create the William J. Burns International Detective Agency. Deeply interested in quality investigation techniques and casework as well as having an instinct for publicity made Burns famous nationally. His work often made national news and was also included in the gossip columns of New York newspapers featuring published “true” crime stories based on his career. Eventually, Burns was appointed as the Director of the Bureau of Investigation (BOI), which was the predecessor of the FBI.
J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972): Perhaps the most well-known investigator of the 20th century, Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States, serving until his death at the age of 77. He is credited with many of the arrests and shootings of famous gangsters in the 1930s like John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly and Pretty Boy Floyd, turning the FBI into a national crime fighting organization not restricted by the state borders. Under his leadership, Hoover also modernized the technology used by the police and detectives and implemented a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories to aid in identifying criminals.
Broken City (2013) shows Wahlberg as ex-police officer turned private detective, Billy Taggart. Taggart is offered $50,000 by the Mayor to investigate his wife over suspicions that she is having an affair. Acting as the eyes and ears of the mayor, Taggart also becomes a scapegoat in the larger scheme of the Mayor’s life. Double-crossed, Taggart seeks revenge and justice, becoming a force to be reckoned with and a living nightmare for the Mayor. In a city full of lies, revenge is the only form of justice.
Broken City comes to Blu-ray and DVD on June 24, courtesy of StudioCanal.
Images via Premier