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
    Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Dame May Whitty
    • Released: 1938
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
  • The 39 Steps
    Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Godfrey Tearle
    • Released: 1935
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
  • M
    Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut
    • Released: 1931
    • Directed by: Fritz Lang
  • The Thin Man
    Maureen O'Sullivan, Frank O'Connor, Nat Pendleton
    • Released: 1934
    • Directed by: W. S. Van Dyke
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Ida Lupino
    • Released: 1939
    • Directed by: Alfred L. Werker
  • After the Thin Man
    William Powell, Myrna Loy, James Stewart
    • Released: 1936
    • Directed by: W. S. Van Dyke
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much
    Peter Lorre, Edna Best, Pierre Fresnay
    • Released: 1934
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Star of Midnight
    William Powell, Ginger Rogers, Paul Kelly
    • Released: 1935
    • Directed by: Stephen Roberts
  • Another Thin Man
    William Powell, Myrna Loy, Virginia Grey
    • Released: 1939
    • Directed by: W. S. Van Dyke
  • Freaks
    Wallace Ford, Olga Baclanova, Leila Hyams
    • Released: 1932
    • Directed by: Tod Browning
  • Sabotage
    Sylvia Sidney, Oscar Homolka, Desmond Tester
    • Released: 1936
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Mystery of the Wax Museum
    Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell
    • Released: 1933
    • Directed by: Michael Curtiz
  • The Black Cat
    Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners
    • Released: 1934
    • Directed by: Edgar G. Ulmer
  • Mad Love
    Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive
    • Released: 1935
    • Directed by: Karl Freund
  • The Most Dangerous Game
    Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks
    • Released: 1932
    • Directed by: Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack
  • Young and Innocent
    Derrick de Marney, Nova Pilbeam, Percy Marmont
    • Released: 1937
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
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  • Night Nurse
    Barbara Stanwyck, Ben Lyon, Joan Blondell
    • Released: 1931
    • Directed by: William A. Wellman
  • The Old Dark House
    Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton
    • Released: 1932
    • Directed by: James Whale
  • Murder!
    Herbert Marshall, Norah Baring, Esme Percy
    • Released: 1930
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
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  • The Roaring Twenties
    James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Priscilla Lane
    • Released: 1939
    • Directed by: Raoul Walsh
  • The Cat and the Canary
    Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Gale Sondergaard
    • Released: 1939
    • Directed by: Elliott Nugent
  • Charlie Chan in London
    Ray Milland, Alan Mowbray, Mona Barrie
    • Released: 1934
    • Directed by: Eugene Forde
  • Midnight
    Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore
    • Released: 1939
    • Directed by: Mitchell Leisen
  • Charlie Chan at the Olympics
    Warner Oland, Katherine DeMille
    • Released: 1937
    • Directed by: H. Bruce Humberstone
  • Doctor X
    Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Lee Tracy
    • Released: 1932
    • Directed by: Michael Curtiz