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Murder in Black and White (1990)

A recently appointed black police commissioner is killed. So, Frank Janek is assigned to investigate.


Robert Iscove


Gordon Cotler


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Crenna ... Frank Janek
Diahann Carroll ... Margo Stover
Cliff Gorman ... Aaron Greenberg
Philip Bosco ... Wycoff
Sam Coppola ... Dave
Caroline Kava ... Jean
James McDaniel ... Fred
Kenneth Welsh ... Ruggieri
Keith David ... Martin
Paul Sparer Paul Sparer ... Chief Drake
Richard Russell Ramos Richard Russell Ramos ... Lugash
Joan Copeland ... Mrs. Finkelstein
Ellen Foley ... Emma
Wanakee Legardy Wanakee Legardy ... Nadine
Fred Gwynne ... Brannigan


A recently appointed black police commissioner is killed. So, Frank Janek is assigned to investigate.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

police | color in title | sequel | See All (3) »


Crime | Drama | Thriller







Release Date:

7 January 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Asesinato en blanco y negro See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Titus Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


A TV movie made for the CBS network. See more »


Followed by Murder Times Seven (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

3rd Janek Film One Of Better In Series
15 May 2014 | by ThomasMLeonard2003See all my reviews

Murder In Black & White brings Richard Crenna back to the role of NYPD Det Frank Janek for the 3rd time (1985 Double Take & 1988 Internal Affairs). This CBS Movie Of The Week also brings back several familiar faces from the first two popular films including Phillip Bosco (Chief Wycoff), Caroline Kava (as Janek's quiet but loyal assistant Jean Harp), and Cliff Gorman (Janek's partner, sarcastic skirt chaser Aaron Greenberg). Janek is still leading the Internal Affairs (IA) Div here, which is why his team is called in when the recently appointed black Police Commissioner turns up dead in Central Park.

Janek squares off with investigating officer Regeri (played by Ken Welsh, who reprise's this role in "Murder Times 7" and also starred with Crenna in "The Day Reagan Was Shot" in 2001) who makes no bones about his negative feelings about the dead commissioner and how he got appointed to his post. Attempts to close the case quickly and blame it on drugs backfire as (just as Janek warns) the arrest is thrown out and urban areas of the city nearly riot over what they perceive is an incompetent investigation by Police. Complicating matters is the fact a random doctor turns up dead a short time later across town with the exact type of head injury that killed the commissioner. Investigating his business leads Janek to his mistress, who it turns out is also dead, again in the same exact manner. Janek cant believe this is a coincidence but his investigation stalls (as tempers around City Hall flare) as he struggles to connect the three victims.

Eventually Janek returns the focus of his efforts on the commissioner's personal life, dealing heavily with his ex wife (played by Diahann Carol) and estranged son (Keith David). With help from his team, particularly Greenberg, Janek finds a connection between the dead commissioner and a current high ranking officer in the Dept and a deadly, police brutality case and cover up from several years ago. Slowly the pieces come together but not until after the killer tries to take out Janek, only to be thwarted by passers by on the street.

The film moves quickly, the investigation is believable, and the supporting cast, particularly Gorman & Kava, have plenty of moments of their own. Solid, fun, crime drama, not too heavy on language or violence, well paced, an enjoyable film.

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