Entertainment

The Best 1930s Gangster Movies  

Ranker Film
354 votes 121 voters 6k 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.

list ordered by
1
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Jean Harlow, Boris Karloff, Paul Muni
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
2
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Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Ann Sheridan
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
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Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Frank McHugh
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
4
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Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
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
5
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain G... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best 1930s Gangster Movies
David Herman added Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Preston Foster
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
6
White Heat is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best 1930s Gangster Movies
horseplayer added James Cagney, Edmond O'Brien, Virginia Mayo
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
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
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
8
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James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Barton MacLane
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
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James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Raymond Hatton
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
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James Stewart, Edward G. Robinson
The Last Gangster is a 1937 crime drama film, directed by Edward Ludwig and starring Edward G. Robinson, James Stewart and Rose Stradner.
11
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James Cagney, Lew Ayres, Dwight Frye
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
12
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Edward G. Robinson, Mary Astor, Shirley Grey
The Little Giant is a 1933 film directed by Roy Del Ruth.
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
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
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James Cagney, Joan Blondell
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
15
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James Cagney, Frankie Darro, Madge Evans
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
16
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James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Charles Lane
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
17
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Humphrey Bogart, Sylvia Sidney, Claire Trevor
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
18
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Virginia Bruce, Richard Arlen, Alice Brady
Let 'em Have It is a 1935 film directed by Sam Wood.
19
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Gary Cooper, Sylvia Sidney, Paul Lukas
City Streets is a 1931 American crime film noir directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Gary Cooper, Sylvia Sidney and Paul Lukas. Based on a story by Dashiell Hammett, this Pre-Code crime ...more
20
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Broadway to Cheyenne John Elliott, Harry Semels, Marceline Day
Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Broadway to Cheyenne is a 1932 American Western film directed by Harry L. Fraser. The film is also known as From Broadway to Cheyenne. The film successfully combines the Western with the ...more
21
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Jean Gabin, Marcel Dalio, Gaston Modot
Pépé le Moko is a 1937 French film directed by Julien Duvivier and starring Jean Gabin. The film depicts an infamous gangster, nicknamed Pépé le Moko. The film is ...more
22
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Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, George Raft
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
23
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Smashing the Rackets Paul Fix, Bruce Cabot, Chester Morris
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.
24
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Hedy Lamarr, Charles Boyer, Gene Lockhart
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
25
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Boris Karloff, Walter Huston, Constance Cummings
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