Film The Best '30s Cop Movies  

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55 votes 34 voters 1.2k views 17 items

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

Cheese it! The coppers are coming for this list of the best ‘30s cop movies. 1930s police films continue to captivate audiences with gritty tales of theft, murder, criminality, and the gumshoes investigating all of the above. The first talking picture came out in 1927, so the talkies of the 1930s were still finding their footing, but as this list of '30s cop films proves, plenty of classics hit during the decade.


So what are the best ‘30s cop movies? Legendary silent film director Fritz Lang has an entry on this list,
M, in which German police track down a vicious serial killer. Stars of early Hollywood like James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart appeared in police movies of the 1930s as well, establishing them as cinematic tough guys. Some of the top ‘30s cop films even predicted the later trend of the buddy cop flick. The Laurel and Hardy vehicle The Midnight Patrol, for example, put the comic duo in police uniforms and left audiences in stitches.


The order of this list of 1930s cop films changes based on votes, so be sure to change the lineup by voting up your favorite '30s police flicks and downvoting the movies that just don't hold up. If we missed any copper classics of the '30s, flash your badge and add them to the list!

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M Peter Lorre, Theo Lingen, Georg John M is a 1931 German drama-thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre. It was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou and was the director's first sound film. Now ...more

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The Midnight Patrol Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy The Midnight Patrol is a short comedy film starring Laurel and Hardy released August 3, 1933.

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The Testament of Dr. Mabuse Oscar Beregi, Sr., Rudolf Klein-Rogge The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is a 1933 German crime film directed by Fritz Lang. The movie is a sequel to Lang's silent film Dr. Mabuse the Gambler and features many cast and crew members from ...more

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Police Patrol is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '30s Cop Movies
Police Patrol

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Bullets or Ballots Humphrey Bogart, Joan Blondell, Edward G. Robinson Bullets or Ballots is a 1936 gangster film starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Blondell, Barton MacLane and Humphrey Bogart. Robinson plays a police detective who infiltrates a crime gang. This is ...more

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G Men is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '30s Cop Movies
G Men 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

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The Great O'Malley is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '30s Cop Movies
The Great O'Malley Humphrey Bogart, Pat O'Brien, Sybil Jason The Great O'Malley is a 1937 crime film directed by William Dieterle and starring Pat O'Brien, Sybil Jason, Humphrey Bogart, and Ann Sheridan.

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Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo Warner Oland Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo is a 1937 American movie directed by Eugene Forde. The main character is Charlie Chan, a Chinese-Hawaiian detective. This was the sixteenth and final Charlie Chan ...more

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Big Brown Eyes Cary Grant, Joan Bennett Big Brown Eyes is a 1936 crime/detective film. In the film, police officer Danny Barr is chasing jewel robbers. His girlfriend Eve Fallon is initially working as a manicurist, but quickly takes ...more

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The Beast of the City Mickey Rooney, Jean Harlow, Walter Huston The Beast of the City is a 1932 pre-Code gangster movie featuring cops as vigilantes and known for its singularly vicious ending. Written by W.R. Burnett, Ben Hecht, and John Lee Mahin, and ...more

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Charlie Chan on Broadway is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '30s Cop Movies
Charlie Chan on Broadway Marc Lawrence, Leon Ames, Keye Luke Charlie Chan investigates the murder of a singer upon her return to the USA. With the help of #1 Son, of course.

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Hollywood Stadium Mystery Smiley Burnette, Neil Hamilton, Barbara Pepper Hollywood Stadium Mystery is a 1938 American film directed by David Howard.

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Night at the Crossroads Pierre Renoir Night at the Crossroads is a 1932 film by Jean Renoir based on the novel of the same title by Georges Simenon and starring Renoir's brother Pierre Renoir as Simenon's popular detective, ...more

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Arsène Lupin is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '30s Cop Movies
Arsène Lupin John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Tully Marshall Arsène Lupin is a 1932 mystery romance film directed by Jack Conway.

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Behind the Mask is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '30s Cop Movies
Behind the Mask Donald Sutherland, Matthew Fox, Mary McDonnell Behind the Mask is a 1999 drama film written by Gregory Goodell and directed by Tom McLoughlin.

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The Amazing Mr. Williams Donald MacBride, Clarence Kolb The Amazing Mr. Williams is a 1939 film directed by Alexander Hall.

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Let 'em Have It Virginia Bruce, Richard Arlen, Alice Brady Let 'em Have It is a 1935 film directed by Sam Wood.