Film The Best '40s Spy Movies  

Ranker Film
326 votes 234 voters 7.3k views 47 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite espionage films that were released in the 1940s

What are the best 1940s spy films? Much like our list of the best 1950s spy films, Alfred Hitchcock has several beloved films on this list. The British master of suspense produced three great espionage films in the ‘40s: Notorious, Foreign Correspondent, and Saboteur. Notorious is infamous for Hitchcock’s clever violation of the Production Code that forbade on-screen kisses longer than three seconds. The director had his actors disengage every few seconds and then begin kissing again, leading to a two and a half minute kiss, revolutionary for its time.


Also on this list of the greatest 1940s spy movies, you will find
Five Graves to Cairo, a World War II film helmed by Hollywood Golden Age legend, Billy Wilder. Another World War II espionage film on this list is Across the Pacific, directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart.


Vote up the best '40s spy films below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.
list ordered by

1
23 2
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock
Notorious is a 1946 American spy thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately ...more

2
22 6
Foreign Correspondent is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Alfred Hitchcock, George Sanders, Joel McCrea
Foreign Correspondent is a 1940 American spy thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It tells the story of an American reporter who tries to expose enemy spies in Britain, a series of events ...more

3
19 5
Saboteur is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Mitchum, Norman Lloyd
Saboteur is a 1942 Universal spy thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock with a screenplay written by Peter Viertel, Joan Harrison and Dorothy Parker. The film stars Priscilla Lane, Robert ...more

4
15 3
Night Train to Munich is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Rex Harrison, Paul Henreid, Margaret Lockwood
Night Train to Munich is a 1940 British thriller film directed by Carol Reed and starring Margaret Lockwood and Rex Harrison. Written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, based on the novel ...more

5
16 4
Ministry of Fear is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Ray Milland, Dan Duryea, Alan Napier
Ministry of Fear is a 1944 film noir directed by Fritz Lang. Based on a novel by Graham Greene, the film tells the story of a man just released from a mental asylum who finds himself caught up ...more

6
12 2
Five Graves to Cairo is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Anne Baxter, Erich von Stroheim, Franchot Tone
Five Graves to Cairo is a 1943 World War II film by Billy Wilder, starring Franchot Tone and Anne Baxter. It is one of a number of films based on Lajos Bíró's play Színmű ...more

7
8 1
The Fallen Sparrow is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Maureen O'Hara, John Garfield, Walter Slezake
The Fallen Sparrow is a 1943 spy film starring John Garfield, Maureen O'Hara, and Walter Slezak. It is based on the novel of the same name by Dorothy B. Hughes. Its plot concerns an American who ...more

8
9 2
Berlin Express is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Merle Oberon, Robert Ryan, Charles Korvin
Berlin Express is a 1948 American drama film directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Robert Ryan, Merle Oberon and Paul Lukas. Thrown together by chance, a group of people search a city for a ...more

9
9 3
Cloak and Dagger is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Gary Cooper, Marc Lawrence, Lilli Palmer
Cloak and Dagger is a 1946 film directed by Fritz Lang, starring Gary Cooper. Like 13 Rue Madeleine, it is a tribute to Office of Strategic Services operations in occupied Europe during World ...more

10
10 4
The House on 92nd Street is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
E. G. Marshall, Gene Lockhart, Leo G. Carroll
The House on 92nd Street is a 1945 black-and-white American spy film directed by Henry Hathaway. The film, shot mainly in New York City, was released shortly after the end of World War II. The ...more

11
7 2
Across the Pacific is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet
Across the Pacific is a 1942 American spy film set on the eve of the entry of the United States into World War II. The film was directed first by John Huston, then by Vincent Sherman after ...more

12
8 4
Journey into Fear is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Orson Welles, Dolores del Río, Joseph Cotten
Journey into Fear is a 1943 American spy film based on the Eric Ambler novel of the same name. The film broadly follows the plot of the book, but the protagonist was changed to an American ...more

13
6 2
Above Suspicion is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Joan Crawford, Basil Rathbone, Fred MacMurray
Above Suspicion is an American spy film distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer starring Joan Crawford and Fred MacMurray, and directed by Richard Thorpe. The screenplay was adapted from the novel ...more

14
4 0
Action in Arabia is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Action in Arabia George Sanders, Virginia Bruce, Robert Armstrong
Action in Arabia is a 1944 film starring George Sanders and Virginia Bruce. The film was written by Philip MacDonald and Herbert J. Biberman, and directed by Leonide Moguy. The supporting cast ...more

15
4 0
Charlie Chan in Panama is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Jean Rogers, Lionel Atwill, Chrispin Martin
Charlie Chan in Panama is a 1940 mystery film starring Sidney Toler. It is an unaccredited remake of Jacques Deval's novel "Marie Galante", produced by Fox Film Corporation in 1934, ...more

16
8 5
Watch on the Rhine is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Bette Davis, Eric Roberts, Geraldine Fitzgerald
Watch on the Rhine is a 1943 American film drama directed by Herman Shumlin, starring Bette Davis. The screenplay by Dashiell Hammett is based on the 1941 play of the same title by Lillian

17
5 2
I Dood It is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Red Skelton, Eleanor Powell, Richard Ainley
I Dood It is a musical-comedy film starring Red Skelton and Eleanor Powell, directed by Vincente Minnelli, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The screenplay is by Fred Saidy and Sig Herzig and ...more

18
5 2
Sherlock Holmes in Washington is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Basil Rathbone, Marjorie Lord, George Zucco
Sherlock Holmes in Washington is the fifth film in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series of Sherlock Holmes movies. The plot is an original story not based on any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ...more

19
4 1
Murder Over New York is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Sidney Toler
Murder Over New York is a 1940 film directed by Harry Lachman.

20
4 1
Leslie Howard, Raymond Huntley, David Tomlinson
"Pimpernel" Smith is a 1941 British anti-Nazi thriller, produced and directed by its star Leslie Howard, which updates his role in the 1934 The Scarlet Pimpernel from Revolutionary ...more

21
7 5
13 Rue Madeleine is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
James Cagney, Karl Malden, E. G. Marshall
13 Rue Madeleine is a 1947 World War II spy film starring James Cagney, Annabella and Richard Conte. The title refers to the Le Havre address where a Gestapo headquarters is located.

22
4 2
Background to Danger is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Peter Lorre, George Raft, Sydney Greenstreet
Background to Danger is a 1943 World War II spy film starring George Raft and featuring Brenda Marshall, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre. Based on the novel of the same title by Eric Ambler ...more

23
3 1
Northern Pursuit is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Errol Flynn, Monte Blue, Gene Lockhart
Northern Pursuit is a 1943 World War II film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Errol Flynn as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who tries to uncover a Nazi plot against the Allied ...more

24
2 0
Rogues' Regiment is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Vincent Price, Dick Powell, Märta Torén
Rogue's Regiment is a 1948 film directed by Robert Florey.

25
2 0
Hotel Reserve is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Herbert Lom, Patricia Medina, Patricia Hayes
Hotel Reserve is a 1944 spy film starring James Mason as an innocent man caught up in pre-Second World War espionage. It was based on Eric Ambler's novel Epitaph for a Spy. Unusually, it was ...more