Watchworthy

The Best 1930s Gangster Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated November 22, 2019 371 votes 132 voters 6.9k views 30 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite gangster films that were released in the 1930s.

Thirteen years of Prohibition had an unexpected result; the creation of a new film genre, the gangster movie. The films on this list of 30s gangster movies tell the stories of hoodlums and rum-runners who make and lose fortunes based on selling illegal alcohol.

Among the best 30s gangster movies are: Little Caeser, Scarface, and Angels with Dirty Faces. During this period the genre was dominated by three stars, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson, each of whom is well-represented on this list of good 30s gangster movies. After you take a look, let us know who you like better Cagney or Bogart or Robinson? And, which are your favorites on this 1930s gangster film list? Vote up the top gangster movies from the 30s or add any that we might have missed.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Ranker Video
Jean Harlow, Boris Karloff, Paul Muni

Released: 1932

Directed by: Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson

Scarface is a 1932 American film starring Paul Muni, produced by Howard Hughes and Howard Hawks, directed by Hawks and Richard Rosson, and based on Armitage Trail's 1929 novel of the same name, ...more

More Scarface 

#42 of 114 The Best Mafia Films #190 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #35 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books

2
Ranker Video
Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Ann Sheridan

Released: 1938

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Angels with Dirty Faces is a 1938 American gangster film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring James Cagney, the Dead End Kids and Humphrey Bogart, along with Ann Sheridan and George Bancroft. ...more
3
Ranker Video
Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Released: 1931

Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy

Little Caesar is a 1931 Warner Bros. Pre-Code crime film that tells the story of a hoodlum who ascends the ranks of organized crime until he reaches its upper echelons. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy ...more

More Little Caesar 

#46 of 114 The Best Mafia Films #65 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made #144 of 528 The Greatest Crime Movies Ever Made

4
Ranker Video
Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Frank McHugh

Released: 1939

Directed by: Raoul Walsh

The Roaring Twenties is a 1939 crime thriller starring James Cagney, Priscilla Lane, Humphrey Bogart and Gladys George. The epic movie, spanning the periods between 1919 and 1933, was directed ...more
5
White Heat is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best 1930s Gangster Movies
horseplayer added James Cagney, Edmond O'Brien, Virginia Mayo

Released: 1949

Directed by: Raoul Walsh

White Heat is a 1949 film noir starring James Cagney, Virginia Mayo and Edmond O'Brien and featuring Margaret Wycherly and Steve Cochran. Directed by Raoul Walsh from the Ivan Goff and Ben ...more

More White Heat 

#37 of 114 The Best Mafia Films #103 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made #24 of 36 The Greatest Classic Noir Movies, Ranked

6
I Am a Fugitive from a C... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best 1930s Gangster Movies
David Herman added Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Preston Foster

Released: 1932

Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is an American Pre-Code crime/drama film starring Paul Muni as a wrongfully convicted convict on a chain gang who escapes to Chicago. The film was written by ...more

More I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang 

#421 of 528 The Greatest Crime Movies Ever Made #93 of 136 The Best Prison Movies #28 of 138 The Best Pre-Code Movies

7
The Public Enemy is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best 1930s Gangster Movies
Alan Hill added Jean Harlow, James Cagney, Joan Blondell

Released: 1931

Directed by: William A. Wellman

The Public Enemy is a 1931 American all-talking pre-code crime film produced and distributed by Warner Brothers. The film was directed by William A. Wellman and stars James Cagney, Jean Harlow, ...more

More The Public Enemy 

#30 of 114 The Best Mafia Films #98 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made #13 of 23 The Best Movies About The Great Depression, Ranked

8
Ranker Video
James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Barton MacLane

Released: 1935

Directed by: William Keighley

G Men is a 1935 Warner Bros. crime film starring James Cagney, Ann Dvorak, and Margaret Lindsay, and presenting Lloyd Nolan's film debut. According to Variety Magazine, the movie was one of the ...more
9
Ranker Video
James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Raymond Hatton

Released: 1933

Directed by: Roy Del Ruth

Lady Killer is a 1933 film starring James Cagney, Mae Clarke, and Margaret Lindsay, based on the story "The Finger Man" by Rosalind Keating Shaffer. The picture was directed by Roy Del
10
Ranker Video
James Stewart, Edward G. Robinson

Released: 1937

Directed by: Edward Ludwig

The Last Gangster is a 1937 crime drama film, directed by Edward Ludwig and starring Edward G. Robinson, James Stewart and Rose Stradner.
11
Ranker Video
James Cagney, Joan Blondell

Released: 1931

Directed by: Roy Del Ruth

Blonde Crazy is a 1931 film by Roy Del Ruth, starring James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Louis Calhern, Ray Milland, and Guy Kibbee famous for Cagney's line, "That dirty, double-crossin' ...more
12
Ranker Video
James Cagney, Lew Ayres, Dwight Frye

Released: 1930

Directed by: Archie Mayo

The Doorway to Hell is a 1930 all-talking Pre-Code crime film directed by Archie Mayo and starring Lew Ayres and James Cagney, in his second film role. The film was based on the story A Handful ...more
13
They Drive by Night is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best 1930s Gangster Movies
horseplayer added Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino

Released: 1940

Directed by: Raoul Walsh

They Drive by Night is a 1940 black-and-white film noir starring George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, and Humphrey Bogart, and directed by Raoul Walsh. The picture involves a pair of embattled ...more
14
Ranker Video
James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Charles Lane

Released: 1931

Directed by: Alfred E. Green

Smart Money is an all-talking pre-code drama film produced and distributed by Warner Brothers, directed by Alfred E. Green, and starring Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney, the only time ...more
15
Ranker Video
Smashing the Rackets Paul Fix, Bruce Cabot, Chester Morris

Released: 1938

Directed by: Lew Landers

Smashing the Rackets is a 1938 crime drama film written by Lionel Houser, based from the story by Forrest Davis and directed by Lew Landers.
16
Ranker Video
Edward G. Robinson, Mary Astor, Shirley Grey

Released: 1933

Directed by: Roy Del Ruth

The Little Giant is a 1933 film directed by Roy Del Ruth.
17
Ranker Video
Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, George Raft

Released: 1939

Directed by: Lloyd Bacon

Invisible Stripes is a 1939 Warner Bros. crime film starring George Raft as a gangster unable to go straight after returning home from prison. The movie was directed by Lloyd Bacon and also ...more

More Invisible Stripes 

#109 of 114 The Best Mafia Films #46 of 81 The Best Humphrey Bogart Movies

18
Ranker Video
Hedy Lamarr, Charles Boyer, Gene Lockhart

Released: 1938

Directed by: John Cromwell

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Algiers is a 1938 American drama film directed by John Cromwell and starring Charles Boyer, Sigrid Gurie, and Hedy Lamarr. Written by John Howard Lawson, the film is about a notorious French ...more

More Algiers 

#40 of 58 Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain #192 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made #1 of 24 The Best Hedy Lamarr Movies

19
Ranker Video
James Cagney, Frankie Darro, Madge Evans

Released: 1933

Directed by: Michael Curtiz, Archie Mayo

The Mayor of Hell is a Warner Brothers film starring James Cagney. The film was remade in 1938 as Crime School with Humphrey Bogart taking over James Cagney's role and Hell's Kitchen with Ronald ...more
20
Ranker Video
Boris Karloff, Walter Huston, Constance Cummings

Released: 1931

Directed by: Howard Hawks

The Criminal Code is a Hollywood crime film, directed by Howard Hawks starring Walter Huston and Phillips Holmes. The film is the first of three Columbia Pictures film adaptations of the stage ...more
21
Ranker Video
John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Edmund Lowe

Released: 1930

Directed by: John Ford, Andrew Bennison

Born Reckless is an American crime comedy directed by Andrew Bennison and John Ford, from a screenplay written by Donald Henderson Clarke based on his novel Louis Beretti. The film starred ...more
22
Ranker Video
Show Them No Mercy! Cesar Romero, Rochelle Hudson

Released: 1935

Directed by: George Marshall

Show Them No Mercy! is a 1935 film directed by George Marshall.
23
Ranker Video
Carole Lombard, ZaSu Pitts, Chester Morris

Released: 1934

Directed by: Jack Conway

The Gay Bride is a 1934 black-and-white gangster screwball comedy starring Carole Lombard as a wisecracking gold-digger and Chester Morris as the poor man she despises. It was directed by Jack ...more
24
Ranker Video
Humphrey Bogart, Sylvia Sidney, Claire Trevor

Released: 1937

Directed by: William Wyler

Dead End is a 1937 crime drama film. It is an adaptation of the Sidney Kingsley 1935 Broadway play of the same name. It stars Humphrey Bogart, Joel McCrea, and Sylvia Sidney. It is notable as ...more

More Dead End 

#89 of 114 The Best Mafia Films #324 of 528 The Greatest Crime Movies Ever Made #22 of 81 The Best Humphrey Bogart Movies

25
Ranker Video
Dragnet Girl Kinuyo Tanaka, Sumiko Mizukubo

Released: 1933

Directed by: Yasujir┼Ź Ozu

Dragnet Girl is a 1933 Japanese Gangster film directed by Yasujir┼Ź Ozu. The film tells the story of a gangster and his girlfriend finding redemption through the actions of an innocent girl and ...more