One of them is a hard-nosed veteran who wants things done his way. The other is a wise-cracking loose cannon who never plays by the rules. Together, they have to stop a cold-hearted criminal. Sound familiar? That's the classic buddy cop formula, and "48 Hrs." is the 1982 action movie that created the entire subgenre. Except the main characters in "48 Hrs." aren't even buddy cops.
The pairing of Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy establishes the buddy cop rhythm. They have contrasting personalities, come from different worlds and don't really get along. But only Nolte is a cop -- Murphy plays a con on furlough to help catch a merciless killer. "48 Hrs." isn't as lighthearted as later buddy cop movies -- the crook is a psychopath, the violence is horrific and the characters deal with racism throughout the movie. But the formula is there, and Hollywood is still using it today.
"Lethal Weapon," "Rush Hour," "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," "Men in Black," "Beverly Hills Cop": the list of buddy cop movies is practically endless. There are even variations on the buddy cop theme, like buddy cop movies where one of the buddies is a dog. We have "48 Hrs." to thank for it.