The Best '30s Thriller Movies

List Rules
Vote up your favorite suspense films that were released in the 1930s

The Golden Age of Hollywood, which stretched from the end of the silent film era until the 1960s, saw the release of many great suspense films. Thriller movies became popular in the '30s due to their complex plots, shifting alliances, and distinctive visual style. The best '30s thriller movies will have you watching them on the edge of your seat. 


What are the greatest ‘30s thriller movies? In 1931, Fritz Lang, legend of the silent film era, used his unique vision and expressionist filmmaking style to produce
M, a gripping murder mystery that can also be found on our list of the “Best ‘30s Cop Movies.” Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock also has a number of influential films on this list, including The Lady Vanishes and The 39 Steps, both of which can be found on our list of the “Best ‘30s Spy Movies.” One of the first talking films to feature famous fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes also debuted in the 1930s, with Basil Rathbone portraying the title characters.


This list of the top ‘30s thriller films will leave your hair standing on end and your palms wet with sweat. Tod Browning’s
Freaks cast actual sideshow performers in the roles, as opposed to relying hair and makeup tricks, thus creating an eerie level of verisimilitude. Help us re-rank this list by voting up your favorites, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.
Ranked by
  • The Lady Vanishes
    1
    Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Dame May Whitty
    34 votes
    • Released: 1938
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
    On a train headed for England a group of travelers is delayed by an avalanche. Holed up in a hotel in a fictional European country, young Iris (Margaret Lockwood) befriends elderly Miss Froy (Dame ...more

    Available On:

    subscription

    free

  • The 39 Steps
    2
    Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Godfrey Tearle
    33 votes
    • Released: 1935
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
    While on vacation in London, Canadian Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) becomes embroiled in an international spy ring related to the mysterious "39 steps." Then he meets agent Annabella Smith (Lucie ...more

    Available On:

    subscription

    free

  • The Thin Man
    3
    Maureen O'Sullivan, Frank O'Connor, Nat Pendleton
    29 votes
    • Released: 1934
    • Directed by: W. S. Van Dyke
    The recently divorced Gilbert discovers that his new girlfriend has stolen $50,000 and is carrying on with other men. Not long afterward, he disappears. Anxious to locate her father, Gilbert's ...more

    Available On:

    subscription

  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    4
    Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Ida Lupino
    14 votes
    • Released: 1939
    • Directed by: Alfred L. Werker
    Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) square off against their archenemy, Professor Moriarty (George Zucco), who has designs on the Tower of London's Crown Jewels. As a ...more

    Available On: