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30s The Best '30s Spy Movies  

Ranker Film
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List Rules Vote up your favorite espionage films that were released in the 1930s

The best ‘30s spy movies are some of the best espionage movies of all time. For those less familiar with this slice of film history, you might be surprised to learn that many of the conventions of the modern spy movie were established during the 1930s.


There is no discussion of ‘30s spy movies or suspenseful movies in general without talking about Alfred Hitchcock. The legendary British director left an indelible imprint on cinema history, and more specifically, on all forthcoming espionage movies.
The Lady Vanishes, one of Hitchcock’s final British-made films, is an interesting mix of suspense and comedy, and it takes place entirely in one of the director’s favorite settings: a train. Other notable Hitchcock pictures that made this list are The 39 Steps and Sabotage.  

Aside from Hitchcock, other British filmmakers like Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger dominated the spy genre in the 1930s and ‘40s, producing spellbinding espionage movies like The Spy in Black in 1939. Here, you’ll also find films like the American Pre-Code drama Mata Hari, starring Greta Garbo in the titular role as an exotic dancer executed for espionage during World War I.   

Vote up the best '30s spy movies below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.  

1
18 2
The Lady Vanishes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
The Lady Vanishes Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas

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2
11 1
The 39 Steps is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
The 39 Steps Alfred Hitchcock, Madeleine Carroll, Robert Donat

3
9 2
Secret Agent is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Secret Agent John Gielgud, Peter Lorre, Robert Young

4
9 3
Sabotage is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Sabotage Sylvia Sidney, Oskar Homolka, John Loder

5
6 1
The Spy in Black is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
The Spy in Black Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, Sebastian Shaw

6
4 0
Dark Journey is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Dark Journey Vivien Leigh, Conrad Veidt

7
4 0
Confessions of a Nazi Spy is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Confessions of a Nazi Spy Edward G. Robinson, George Sanders, Paul Lukas

8
4 1
Mata Hari is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Mata Hari Greta Garbo, Lionel Barrymore, Ramon Novarro

9
3 0
British Agent is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
British Agent Cesar Romero, Leslie Howard, J. Carrol Naish

10
5 3
Charlie Chan at the Olympics is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Charlie Chan at the Olympics Warner Oland, Katherine DeMille

11
4 3
Dishonored is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Dishonored Marlene Dietrich, Victor McLaglen, Warner Oland

12
2 1
I Was a Spy is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
I Was a Spy Madeleine Carroll, Herbert Marshall, Edmund Gwenn

13
2 1
Ever in My Heart is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Ever in My Heart Barbara Stanwyck, Otto Kruger, Laura Hope Crews

14
1 0
Operator 13 is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Operator 13 Gary Cooper, Marion Davies, Jean Parker

15
3 3
Seas Beneath is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Seas Beneath Loretta Young, George O'Brien

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16
3 3
Suzy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Suzy Cary Grant, Jean Harlow, Franchot Tone

17
2 2
After Tonight is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
After Tonight Constance Bennett, Gilbert Roland

18
1 1
Marie Galante is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Marie Galante Spencer Tracy, Ketti Gallian, Sig Ruman

19
1 1
Espionage Agent is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Espionage Agent Joel McCrea, Brenda Marshall, George Bancroft

20
0 1
Rendezvous is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Rendezvous Cesar Romero, Rosalind Russell, William Powell

21
0 1
The Firefly is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
The Firefly Jeanette MacDonald, Robert Z. Leonard, Allan Jones

22
0 1
Son of a Sailor is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Son of a Sailor Thelma Todd, Joe E. Brown, Frank McHugh

23
0 1
Secret Agent X-9 is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
Secret Agent X-9 Lon Chaney, Jr., Monte Blue

24
0 2
The Emperor's Candlesticks is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
The Emperor's Candlesticks Luise Rainer, William Powell

25
0 2
The Gay Diplomat is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '30s Spy Movies
The Gay Diplomat Ilka Chase, Onslow Stevens, Genevieve Tobin