50s The Best '50s Cop Movies  

Ranker Film
157 votes 141 voters 1.7k views 38 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite police films that were released in the 1950s

Many of the best police movies from the 1950s are considered noir films, characterized by their black and white Expressionist style and their “hardboiled” plots. Violence, revenge, gambling, organized crime, and sex all comprise the mystique of the noir film. The greatest ‘50s cop movies are all set against gritty urban backdrops, but the real background was the McCarthy Hearings of the 1950s. Communist fears, endless witch hunts, and an angry and paranoid society all frame these movies as reactions and responses to the politics of the day.  


On this list of top ‘50s cop movies, you will find numerous legendary directors. For instance, Orson Welles directed and co-starred in one of the last true noir films ever made:
Touch of Evil. Notable for its single-shot opening sequence, the film has achieved a high level of prestige. John Ford also appears on this list with the film Gideon’s Day. Even silent film-era luminary Fritz Frelang got in on the trend of the ‘50s cop movie. His relentlessly brutal The Big Heat is regarded as one of the best noir films ever made. 

Do you prefer a good old fashioned police procedural, or perhaps something with a few more twists and turns? Vote up the best cop movies from the 1950s, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment sections! 

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The Big Heat is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Big Heat Lee Marvin, Glenn Ford, Carolyn Jones The Big Heat is a 1953 film noir directed by Fritz Lang, starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin. It is about a cop who takes on the crime syndicate that controls his city, after the ...more

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Where the Sidewalk Ends is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Where the Sidewalk Ends Gene Tierney, Karl Malden, Dana Andrews Where the Sidewalk Ends is a 1950 American film noir directed and produced by Otto Preminger. The screenplay for the film was written by Ben Hecht, and adapted by Robert E. Kent, Frank P. ...more

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The Big Combo is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Big Combo Lee Van Cleef, Brian Donlevy, Earl Holliman Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Big Combo is a 1955 American film noir directed by Joseph H. Lewis and photographed by cinematographer John Alton, with music by David Raksin.

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Touch of Evil is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Touch of Evil Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich Touch of Evil is a 1958 American crime thriller film, written, directed by, and co-starring Orson Welles. The screenplay was loosely based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson. Along ...more

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Detective Story is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Detective Story Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, Lee Grant Detective Story is a 1951 film noir which tells the story of one day in the lives of the various people who populate a police detective squad. It features Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William ...more

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The Narrow Margin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Narrow Margin Charles McGraw, George Chandler, Marie Windsor The Narrow Margin is a 1952 American film noir directed by Richard Fleischer and written by Earl Felton, based on an unpublished story written by Martin Goldsmith and Jack Leonard. The ...more

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On Dangerous Ground is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
On Dangerous Ground Robert Ryan, Ida Lupino, Ward Bond On Dangerous Ground is a 1951 film noir directed by Nicholas Ray and produced by John Houseman. The screenplay was written by A. I. Bezzerides based on the novel Mad with Much Heart, by Gerald ...more

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The Racket is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Racket Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Lizabeth Scott The Racket is a 1951 is a black-and-white film noir drama directed by John Cromwell with uncredited directing help from Nicholas Ray, Tay Garnett, Sherman Todd and Mel Ferrer. The production ...more

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Rogue Cop is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Rogue Cop Janet Leigh, Anne Francis, Robert Taylor Rogue Cop is a 1954 film noir directed by Roy Rowland, based on the novel by William P. McGivern, and starring Robert Taylor, Janet Leigh, and George Raft.

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The Sniper is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Sniper Adolphe Menjou, Richard Kiley, Frank Faylen The Sniper is a 1952 black-and-white film noir, directed by Edward Dmytryk, written by Harry Brown, and based on a story by Edna and Edward Anhalt. The film features Adolphe Menjou, Arthur ...more

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The Crimson Kimono is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Crimson Kimono Anna Lee, Gloria Pall, James Shigeta The Crimson Kimono is a 1959 film noir directed by Samuel Fuller. The film stars James Shigeta, Glenn Corbett and Victoria Shaw. It featured several ahead-of-its-time ideas about race and ...more

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City That Never Sleeps is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
City That Never Sleeps Gig Young, Mala Powers, William Talman City That Never Sleeps is a 1953 film noir produced and directed by John H. Auer with cinematography by John L. Russell.

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Mystery Street is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Mystery Street Ricardo Montalbán, Elsa Lanchester, Bruce Bennett Mystery Street is a 1950 black-and-white film noir directed by John Sturges with cinematography by cinematographer John Alton. The film features Ricardo Montalban, Bruce Bennett, and Elsa ...more

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Dragnet is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Dragnet Dennis Weaver, Jack Webb, Richard Boone

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The FBI Story is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The FBI Story James Stewart, Adam West, Vera Miles The FBI Story is a 1959 American drama film starring James Stewart, and produced and directed by Mervyn LeRoy. The screenplay by Richard L. Breen and John Twist is based on a book by Don

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Armored Car Robbery is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Armored Car Robbery Douglas Fowley, Adele Jergens, Charles McGraw Armored Car Robbery is a 1950 American film noir directed by Richard Fleischer, and starring Charles McGraw. The movie was filmed on location in Los Angeles, California. Armored Car Robbery is a ...more

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Dial Red O is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Dial Red O Keith Larsen Dial Red O is a film directed by Daniel B. Ullman released on Mar 13, 1955.

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The Killer Is Loose is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Killer Is Loose Rhonda Fleming, Alan Hale, Jr. Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Killer Is Loose is a 1956 American crime film noir directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Joseph Cotten, Rhonda Fleming and Wendell Corey.

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Code Two is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Code Two Chuck Connors, Keenan Wynn, Elaine Stewart Code Two is a 1953 film written by Marcy Klauber and directed by Fred Wilcox.

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The Sleeping City is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Sleeping City Coleen Gray, Richard Conte, Richard Taber The Sleeping City is a 1950 film noir, shot in semidocumentary style set in and shot at New York's Bellevue Hospital. It was directed by George Sherman and features Richard Conte, Coleen Gray ...more

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The Mob is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Mob Charles Bronson, Broderick Crawford, Betty Buehler The Mob is a 1951 film noir crime thriller film directed by Robert Parrish and starring Broderick Crawford as a hard-nosed cop who infiltrates the Mob in order to bust their illegal dockyard ...more

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Nightmare is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Nightmare Edward G. Robinson, Kevin McCarthy, Rhys Williams Nightmare is a 1956 psychological thriller film noir starring Edward G. Robinson The story is based on a novel by William Irish. The book also became a 1947 film, Fear in the Night.

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711 Ocean Drive is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
711 Ocean Drive Edmond O'Brien, Otto Kruger, Joanne Dru 711 Ocean Drive is a 1950 American crime film noir directed by Joseph M. Newman. The drama features Edmond O'Brien, Joanne Dru and Otto Kruger.

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The Blue Lamp is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Blue Lamp Dirk Bogarde, Jack Warner, Dora Bryan Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Blue Lamp is a British crime film released in early 1950 by Ealing Studios, directed by Basil Dearden and produced by Michael Balcon. It stars Jack Warner as police constable George Dixon, ...more

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The Tattooed Stranger is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Tattooed Stranger Jack Lord, Jim Boles, Patricia Barry The Tattooed Stranger is a 1950 American crime film noir shot on location in New York City, directed by Edward Montagne, and starring John Miles, Patricia Barry, Walter Kinsella and Frank ...more

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Murder Is My Beat is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Murder Is My Beat Barbara Payton, Robert Shayne, Paul Langton Murder is my Beat is a 1955 film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer.

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Gideon's Day is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Gideon's Day Jack Hawkins, Cyril Cusack, James Hayter Gideon's Day is a 1958 police procedural crime film starring Jack Hawkins, Dianne Foster and Cyril Cusack. The film, which was directed by John Ford, was adaptated from John Creasey's novel of ...more

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Man in the Shadow is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Man in the Shadow Orson Welles, Jeff Chandler, James Gleason Man in the Shadow is a CinemaScope crime film starring Jeff Chandler, Orson Welles, Colleen Miller, Ben Alexander, and John Larch.

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Northwest Territory is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Northwest Territory Tris Coffin, John Crawford, Don C. Harvey Northwest Territory is a 1951 adventure western film written by James Oliver Curwood and William Raynor and directed by Frank McDonald.

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The Facts of Murder is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Facts of Murder Claudia Cardinale, Pietro Germi, Claudio Gora Un maledetto imbroglio also known as The Facts of Murder is a 1959 Italian crime film mystery directed by and starring Pietro Germi with Claudia Cardinale. The film is based on the novel by ...more

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Calling Homicide is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Calling Homicide Calling Homicide is a film directed by Edward Bernds released on Sep 1, 1956.

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Cop Hater is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Cop Hater Jerry Orbach, Robert Loggia, Gerald S. O'Loughlin Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Cop Hater is a 1958 American police procedural film, based on the 1956 novel Cop Hater by Ed McBain, the first in a series of books about the 87th Precinct in New York City. The film was ...more

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The Case Against Brooklyn is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
The Case Against Brooklyn Darren McGavin The Case Against Brooklyn is a 1958 film directed by Paul Wendkos. It stars Darren McGavin and Margaret Hayes. It was based on a True Magazine article I Broke the Brooklyn Graft Scandal by crime ...more

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Yukon Manhunt is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Yukon Manhunt Martha Hyer, Gail Davis, John Doucette Yukon Manhunt is a 1951 adventure film written by William Raynor and directed by Frank McDonald.

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It Happened in Broad Daylight is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
It Happened in Broad Daylight Heinz Rühmann, Gert Fröbe, Michel Simon Es geschah am hellichten Tag is the title of a 1958 Spanish-Swiss-German suspense film directed by Ladislao Vajda. In 1997, it was remade under the same title as a German TV film, directed by ...more

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Footsteps in the Night is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Footsteps in the Night Don Haggerty Footsteps in the Night is a film directed by Jean Yarbrough released on Apr 14, 1957.

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Grand National Night is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Grand National Night Michael Hordern, Moira Lister, Colin Gordon Grand National Night is a 1953 British thriller brought to the screen by George Minter under the production of Phil C. Samuel from a play by Campbell and Dorothy Christie. It was directed by Bob ...more

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Sudden Danger is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Sudden Danger Beverly Garland, Pierre Watkin, Lyle Talbot Sudden Danger is a 1955 American film directed by Hubert Cornfield, starring Bill Elliott and Tom Drake.