Entertainment

The Best '50s Cop Movies

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! 
Ranked by
  • On Dangerous Ground
    1
    Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond
    • Released: 1951
    • Directed by: Nicholas Ray
  • Touch of Evil
    2
    Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Janet Leigh
    • Released: 1958
    • Directed by: Orson Welles
  • The FBI Story
    3
    James Stewart, Vera Miles, Murray Hamilton
    • Released: 1959
    • Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy
  • The Big Heat
    4
    Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando
    • Released: 1953
    • Directed by: Fritz Lang
  • Dragnet
    5
    Jack Webb, Ben Alexander, Richard Boone
    • Released: 1954
    • Directed by: Jack Webb
  • Detective Story
    6
    Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix
    • Released: 1951
    • Directed by: William Wyler
  • Mystery Street
    7
    Ricardo Montalban, Sally Forrest, Bruce Bennett
    • Released: 1950
    • Directed by: John Sturges
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends
    8
    Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Gary Merrill
    • Released: 1950
    • Directed by: Otto Preminger
  • Gideon's Day
    9
    Jack Hawkins, Cyril Cusack, James Hayter
    • Released: 1958
    • Directed by: John Ford
  • The Racket
    10
    Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Lizabeth Scott
    • Released: 1951
    • Directed by: John Cromwell
  • The Narrow Margin
    11
    Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, Jacqueline White
    • Released: 1952
    • Directed by: Richard Fleischer
  • City That Never Sleeps
    12
    Gig Young, Mala Powers, William Talman
    • Released: 1953
    • Directed by: John H. Auer
  • Rogue Cop
    13
    Robert Taylor, Janet Leigh, George Raft
    • Released: 1954
    • Directed by: Roy Rowland
  • The Sniper
    14
    Adolphe Menjou, Arthur Franz, Gerald Mohr
    • Released: 1952
    • Directed by: Edward Dmytryk
  • The Blue Lamp
    15
    Jack Warner, Dirk Bogarde, Jimmy Hanley
    • Released: 1950
    • Directed by: Basil Dearden
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  • The Big Combo
    16
    Lee Van Cleef, Brian Donlevy, Earl Holliman
    • Released: 1955
    • Directed by: Joseph H. Lewis
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  • 711 Ocean Drive
    17
    Edmond O'Brien, Joanne Dru, Otto Kruger
    • Released: 1950
    • Directed by: Joseph M. Newman
  • The Crimson Kimono
    18
    Anna Lee, Gloria Pall, James Shigeta
    • Released: 1959
    • Directed by: Samuel Fuller
  • The Sleeping City
    19
    Coleen Gray, Richard Conte, Richard Taber
    • Released: 1950
    • Directed by: George Sherman
  • The Mob
    20
    Broderick Crawford, Betty Buehler, Richard Kiley
    • Released: 1951
    • Directed by: Robert Parrish
  • The Killer Is Loose
    21
    Joseph Cotten, Rhonda Fleming, Wendell Corey
    • Released: 1956
    • Directed by: Budd Boetticher
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  • Armored Car Robbery
    22
    Charles McGraw, Adele Jergens, William Talman
    • Released: 1950
    • Directed by: Richard Fleischer
  • Code Two
    23
    Ralph Meeker, Sally Forrest, Keenan Wynn
    • Released: 1953
    • Directed by: Fred M. Wilcox
  • Man in the Shadow
    24
    Orson Welles, Jeff Chandler, James Gleason
    • Released: 1957
    • Directed by: Jack Arnold
  • Yukon Manhunt
    25
    Martha Hyer, Gail Davis, John Doucette
    • Released: 1951
    • Directed by: Frank McDonald