The Best Gangster Movies of the 1940s  

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152 votes 116 voters 7k views 19 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite gangster films that were released in the 1940s.

With the days of speakeasies and rumrunners long passed, you’d think that gangster movies would have gone the way of anti-alcohol laws. The best '40s gangster movies, however, show nostalgia for the Prohibition Era, and the crimes committed therein.

Some of the best '40s gangster movies include timeless classics, like Key Largo, High Sierra, and White Heat. Also notable is the 1945 gangster-biography Dillinger, which tells the story of John Dillinger, one of the most prolific and dangerous gangsters of the decade. Add to that two delightful gangster-comedies, Brother Orchid and Ball of Fire and you have an awesome collection of badass 1940s gangster movies.

Vote up the best '40s gangster movies below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section!

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Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson
Key Largo is a 1948 film noir directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Lauren Bacall and featuring Lionel Barrymore and Claire Trevor. The movie was adapted ...more
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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
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Humphrey Bogart, Joan Leslie, Ida Lupino
High Sierra is a 1941 early heist film and film noir written by W.R. Burnett and John Huston from the novel by Burnett. The movie features Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart and was directed by ...more
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Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Ralph Bellamy
Brother Orchid is a 1940 American crime/comedy film directed by Lloyd Bacon and starring Edward G. Robinson, Ann Sothern and Humphrey Bogart, with featured performances by Donald Crisp, Ralph ...more
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Harry Morgan, Barry Sullivan, Akim Tamiroff
"Based on Daniel Fuchs’s novel Low Company. One of the most peculiar noirs of the 1940s stars Barry Sullivan in a riveting performance as a small-time hood who suffers a mental breakdown as ...more
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Anne Jeffreys, Marc Lawrence, Jack Mulhall
Dillinger is a 1945 gangster film telling the story of John Dillinger. The film was directed by Max Nosseck. Dillinger was the first major film to star Lawrence Tierney. The B-movie was shot in ...more
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Jane Wyman, Anthony Quinn, Edward G. Robinson
Larceny, Inc. is an American film. Originally released on May 2, 1942 by Warner Brothers, the film is a cross between the comedy and gangster genres. Directed by Lloyd Bacon, the picture stars ...more
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Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd, William Bendix
The Glass Key is a 1942 film noir, directed by Stuart Heisler and based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. An earlier film version had been released in 1935.
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Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Dana Andrews
This film is a 1941 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks and starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. This Samuel Goldwyn Productions film concerns a group of professors ...more
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Peter Lorre, Robert Cummings, Bess Flowers
The Chase is a 1946 American black and white film noir directed by Arthur Ripley. The screenplay written by Philip Yordan is based on the Cornell Woolrich novel The Black Path of Fear.
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Peter Lorre, Evelyn Keyes, Don Beddoe
The Face Behind the Mask is a crime-drama film released by Columbia Pictures in 1941. It stars Peter Lorre and Evelyn Keyes and was directed by Robert Florey. The screenplay was adapted by Paul ...more
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The Golden Fleecing William Demarest, Lew Ayres, Marc Lawrence
The Golden Fleecing is a 1940 film directed by Leslie Fenton.
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Richard Widmark, Karl Malden, Coleen Gray
Kiss of Death is a 1947 film noir movie directed by Henry Hathaway and written by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer from a story by Eleazar Lipsky. The story revolves around a former robber played ...more
Johnny Apollo is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Gangster Movies of the 1940s
Jocelyn added Tyrone Power, Dorothy Lamour, Edward Arnold
Johnny Apollo is a 1940 crime film directed by Henry Hathaway. It stars Tyrone Power as a man who resorts to crime to buy a pardon for his embezzler father. Lloyd Nolan plays the gangster he ...more
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John Garfield, Paul Fix, Marie Windsor
Force of Evil is a 1948 American film noir directed by Abraham Polonsky who had already achieved a name for himself as a scriptwriter, most notably for the gritty boxing film Body and Soul. Like ...more
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Joan Bennett, Paul Henreid, John Qualen
Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Hollow Triumph is a 1948 American film noir directed by Steve Sekely and starring Paul Henreid and Joan Bennett. It was released by Eagle-Lion Films, based on the 1946 novel of the same title ...more
Alias Nick Beal is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Gangster Movies of the 1940s
Ray Milland, Thomas Mitchell, George Macready
Alias Nick Beal is a 1949 film retelling of the Faust myth directed by John Farrow and starring Ray Milland, Audrey Totter and Thomas Mitchell. The picture is also known as Dark Circle, Strange ...more
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Joan Bennett, Walter Pidgeon, George Raft
Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The House Across the Bay is a 1940 film directed by Archie Mayo, produced by Walter Wanger, written by Myles Connolly and Kathryn Scola, and released by United Artists. The picture involves a ...more
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Robert Montgomery, Fred Clark, Andrea King
Ride the Pink Horse is a 1947 American crime film noir produced by Universal Studios. It was directed by the actor Robert Montgomery from a screenplay by Ben Hecht, which was based on a novel of ...more