50s The Best '50s Cop Movies  

Ranker Film
255 votes 149 voters 2.3k 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! 
list ordered by
15 2
Touch of Evil is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich
Touch of Evil is a 1958 American 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 with ...more
11 2
The Big Heat is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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. The film was written by former reporter Sydney Boehm, based on a serial by William P. ...more
12 4
Detective Story is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
7 1
The Racket is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
8 2
Where the Sidewalk Ends is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
8 2
The Narrow Margin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
9 3
Rogue Cop is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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.
10 4
On Dangerous Ground is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
7 2
The Big Combo is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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.
7 3
The FBI Story is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
7 4
The Sniper is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
6 3
City That Never Sleeps is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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.
5 2
Dragnet is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Dragnet Dennis Weaver, Jack Webb, Richard Boone
6 4
The Blue Lamp is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
5 3
711 Ocean Drive is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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.
4 2
The Crimson Kimono is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
4 2
Mystery Street is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
3 1
Man in the Shadow is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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.
3 2
The Mob is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
3 2
The Sleeping City is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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
2 1
Gideon's Day is listed (or ranked) 21 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
2 1
Nightmare is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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.
2 1
Northwest Territory is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
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.
2 2
Dial Red O is listed (or ranked) 24 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.
2 2
Code Two is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '50s Cop Movies
Chuck Connors, Keenan Wynn, Elaine Stewart
Code Two is a 1953 film written by Marcy Klauber and directed by Fred Wilcox.