40s Movies The Best '40s Cop Movies  

Ranker Film
87 votes 79 voters 1.5k views 21 items

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

The best '40s cop movies can be characterized by the classic film-noir style that developed in the early 1940s. Noir films were notable for their distinct black and white visual style as well as their portrayals of lone heroes and femme fatales, as well as their twisting plotlines.


So what are the greatest ‘40s cop movies? American cinematographers, such as John Alton, contributed to the unique look and feel of many noir films shot in this era. Alton filmed numerous influential movies, including 1948’s
He Walked By Night. Filmed in the semi-documentary style that was popular in the ‘40s, films like He Walked By Night and Naked City incorporated real people and events, blurring the line between fact and fiction. Foreign directors also left their stamp on the genre. Akira Kurosawa also appears on this list for his classic Japanese police film Stray Dog. This top '40s cop movie prefigured the idea of the police procedural, as well as the buddy cop genre.


On this list of ‘40s cop movies you’ll also find stars of the ‘40s and ‘50s like Gary Cooper, Tony Curtis, and Jack Webb, creator of
Dragnet. Vote up the best cop movies from the 1940s, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 
list ordered by

1
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Stray Dog is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Awaji Stray Dog is a 1949 Japanese police procedural film noir directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura. The film is considered a precursor to the contemporary police ...more

2
5 0
He Walked by Night is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Richard Basehart, Jack Webb, Whit Bissell Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial He Walked by Night is a 1948 black-and-white police procedural film noir, directed by Alfred L. Werker and Anthony Mann. The film, shot in semidocumentary tone, was loosely based on newspaper ...more

3
7 2
The Naked City is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Don Taylor The Naked City is a black-and-white film noir directed by Jules Dassin. Based on a story by Malvin Wald, the film depicts the police investigation that follows the murder of a young model. A ...more

4
7 2
North West Mounted Police is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Gary Cooper, Paulette Goddard, Lon Chaney "Set in the historical Riel rebellion, a Texas Ranger helps the Mounties so he can capture a murderer; but the Mountie gets the woman. In 1885 Dan Duroc (Akim Tamiroff) and Jacques Corbeau ...more

5
6 3
The Street with No Name is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Richard Widmark, Ed Begley, John McIntire The Street with No Name is a 1948 black-and-white film noir. The movie, a follow-up to The House on 92nd Street, tells the story of an undercover FBI agent, Gene Cordell, who infiltrates a ...more

6
5 2
Cry of the City is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Shelley Winters, Debra Paget, Victor Mature Cry of the City is a 1948 black-and-white film noir directed by Robert Siodmak based on the novel by Henry Edward Helseth, The Chair for Martin Rome. Veteran film noir-writer Ben Hecht worked on ...more

7
4 1
Green for Danger is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Trevor Howard, Alastair Sim, Leo Genn Green for Danger is a 1946 British thriller film, based on the popular 1944 detective novel of the same name by Christianna Brand. The film was directed by Sidney Gilliat and stars Alastair Sim, ...more

8
3 0
Fall Guy is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Leo Penn, Robert Armstrong, Teala Loring Fall Guy is a 1947 American crime film noir directed by Reginald Le Borg. The drama features Leo Penn, Robert Armstrong and Teala Loring. The film is based on Cornell Woolrich's short story, ...more

9
4 2
Johnny O'Clock is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Lee J. Cobb, Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes Johnny O'Clock is a 1947 American film noir written and directed by Robert Rossen, based on a story by Milton Holmes. The drama features Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes, and Lee J. Cobb, with Jeff ...more

10
3 1
The Suspect is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Charles Laughton, Maude Eburne, Ella Raines The Suspect is a 1944 film noir directed by Robert Siodmak, set in London in 1902, in Edwardian times. It is based on the novel This Way Out, by James Ronald, and was released by Universal ...more

11
2 1
The Man on the Eiffel Tower is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Burgess Meredith, Charles Laughton, Franchot Tone The Man on the Eiffel Tower is a 1950 American mystery film directed by Burgess Meredith and starring Charles Laughton, Franchot Tone, Meredith, and Robert Hutton. It is based on the 1931 novel ...more

12
2 1
Crack-Up is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Claire Trevor, Herbert Marshall, Ray Collins Crack-Up is a 1946 film noir directed by Irving Reis, remembered for directing many "Falcon" movies of the early 1940s including The Falcon Takes Over. The drama is based on ...more

13
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Undercover Maisie is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Ann Sothern, Barry Nelson Undercover Maisie is a 1947 film directed by Harry Beaumont.

14
3 3
When Strangers Marry is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Dean Jagger, Kim Hunter When Strangers Marry is a 1944 suspense film directed by William Castle and featuring Dean Jagger, Kim Hunter and Robert Mitchum.

15
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Behind Green Lights is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Carole Landis, John Ireland, Don Beddoe Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Behind Green Lights is a 1946 American film noir directed by Otto Brower.

16
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Backlash is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Backlash Jean Rogers, Larry J. Blake, John Eldredge Backlash is a 1947 American crime film noir directed by Eugene Forde. The drama features Jean Rogers, Larry J. Blake, John Eldredge and Richard Travis.

17
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So Dark the Night is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Steven Geray, Eugene Borden, Micheline Cheirel So Dark the Night is a 1946 American crime film noir directed by Joseph H. Lewis and written by Dwight V. Babcock, Martin Berkeley, based on a story written by Aubrey Wisberg. The drama features ...more

18
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Johnny Stool Pigeon is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Tony Curtis, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea Johnny Stool Pigeon is a 1949 black-and-white film noir directed by William Castle, and starring, Howard Duff, Shelley Winters and Dan Duryea. Tony Curtis, who made his movie debut that same ...more

19
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Follow Me Quietly is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
William Lundigan, Jeff Corey, Nestor Paiva Follow Me Quietly is a 1949 semidocumentary film noir directed by Richard Fleischer, with support from Anthony Mann in an uncredited position. The drama features William Lundigan, Dorothy ...more

20
0 0
Calling Dr. Death is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
Lon Chaney, Jr., J. Carrol Naish Calling Dr. Death is the first of the Universal Pictures Inner Sanctum mystery films. The "Inner Sanctum" franchise originated with a popular radio series and all of the films star Lon ...more

21
0 3
Night Editor is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '40s Cop Movies
William Gargan, Janis Carter Night Editor is a 1946 B-movie film noir directed by Henry Levin and based on a popular radio program of the same name. The script for the film was based on a previous radio program episode ...more