Film The Best '40s Spy Movies  

Ranker Film
269 votes 208 voters 5.3k 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.

1
16 1
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Notorious 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
17 2
Saboteur is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Saboteur 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

3
15 2
Ministry of Fear is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Ministry of Fear 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

4
17 5
Foreign Correspondent is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Foreign Correspondent 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

5
11 2
Five Graves to Cairo is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Five Graves to Cairo 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

6
11 3
Night Train to Munich is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Night Train to Munich 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

7
9 3
The House on 92nd Street is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
The House on 92nd Street 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

8
6 1
The Fallen Sparrow is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
The Fallen Sparrow 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

9
8 3
Cloak and Dagger is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Cloak and Dagger 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
7 2
Across the Pacific is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Across the Pacific 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

11
7 3
13 Rue Madeleine is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
13 Rue Madeleine 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.

12
7 3
Journey into Fear is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Journey into Fear 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

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6 2
Above Suspicion is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Above Suspicion 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
5 1
Berlin Express is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Berlin Express 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

15
4 0
"Pimpernel" Smith 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

16
4 0
Murder Over New York is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Murder Over New York Sidney Toler Murder Over New York is a 1940 film directed by Harry Lachman.

17
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Watch on the Rhine is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Watch on the Rhine 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

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I Dood It is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
I Dood It 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

19
5 2
Sherlock Holmes in Washington is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Sherlock Holmes in Washington 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

20
3 0
Action in Arabia is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
3 0
Charlie Chan in Panama is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Charlie Chan in Panama 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

22
4 2
Tonight We Raid Calais is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Tonight We Raid Calais Lee J. Cobb, Howard Da Silva, Marcel Dalio Tonight We Raid Calais is a 1943 film directed by John Brahm.

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3 1
Northern Pursuit is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Northern Pursuit 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
Tomorrow We Live is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Tomorrow We Live Ricardo Cortez, Jean Parker, William Marshall Tomorrow We Live is a 1942 American film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. The film is also known as The Man with a Conscience in the United Kingdom.

25
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Rogues' Regiment is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Rogues' Regiment Vincent Price, Dick Powell, Märta Torén Rogue's Regiment is a 1948 film directed by Robert Florey.

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Sky Liner is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Sky Liner Rochelle Hudson, Steven Geray, Steve Pendleton Sky Liner is a film directed by William A. Berke released on July 28, 1949.

27
4 3
Invisible Agent is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Invisible Agent Peter Lorre, Cedric Hardwicke, Keye Luke Invisible Agent is a 1942 American science fiction film from Universal. The film was a wartime propaganda production that was part of a Hollywood effort to boost morale at the home front. It ...more

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Background to Danger is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Background to Danger 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

29
3 2
Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost Lupe Vélez, Buddy Rogers, Leon Errol Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost is a 1942 comedy film written by Charles E. Roberts and Monte Brice and directed by Leslie Goodwins.

30
2 1
They Met in the Dark is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
They Met in the Dark Finlay Currie, Patricia Medina, Edward Rigby They Met in the Dark is a 1943 British thriller film directed by Karel Lamac and starring James Mason, Joyce Howard and Edward Rigby. A cashiered Royal Naval officer and a young woman join ...more

31
1 0
Confidential Agent is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Confidential Agent Lauren Bacall, Peter Lorre, Charles Boyer Confidential Agent is a 1945 spy film starring Charles Boyer and Lauren Bacall, and made by Warner Bros. The movie was directed by Herman Shumlin and produced by Robert Buckner with Jack L. ...more

32
1 0
Hotel Berlin is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Hotel Berlin Peter Lorre, Raymond Massey, Faye Emerson Hotel Berlin is a drama film set in Berlin near the close of World War II, made by Warner Bros. in late 1944 to early 1945. Directed by Peter Godfrey, it stars Faye Emerson, Helmut Dantine, ...more

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1 0
Golden Earrings is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Golden Earrings Marlene Dietrich, Ray Milland, Reinhold Schünzel Golden Earrings is a 1947 romantic spy film made by Paramount Pictures and starring Ray Milland and Marlene Dietrich. It was directed by Mitchell Leisen and produced by Harry Tugend from a ...more

34
1 0
Hotel Reserve is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Hotel Reserve 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

35
2 2
A Southern Yankee is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
A Southern Yankee Red Skelton, Arlene Dahl, John Ireland A Southern Yankee is an American comedy film, directed by Edward Sedgwick, starring Red Skelton and Arlene Dahl, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is also known as The Spy. A semi-remake ...more

36
1 1
I See a Dark Stranger is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
I See a Dark Stranger Deborah Kerr, Trevor Howard, Raymond Huntley I See a Dark Stranger – released as The Adventuress in the United States – is a British 1946 World War II spy film with touches of light comedy, by the team of Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, ...more

37
0 0
Cairo is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Cairo Robert Young, Jeanette MacDonald Cairo is a 1942 musical comedy film made by MGM and Loew's, and directed by W. S. Van Dyke. The screenplay was written by John McClain, based on an idea by Ladislas Fodor about a news reporter ...more

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0 0
The Falcon's Brother is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
The Falcon's Brother George Sanders, Tom Conway The Falcon's Brother is a 1942 American crime drama film in which George Sanders, who had been portraying "The Falcon" in a series of movies, appears with his lookalike brother Tom ...more

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0 0
Counter-Espionage is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Counter-Espionage Lloyd Bridges, Forrest Tucker, Hillary Brooke Counter-Espionage is a 1942 romantic comedy film directed by Edward Dmytryk.

40
0 0
The Black Sheep of Whitehall is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
The Black Sheep of Whitehall John Mills, Thora Hird, Felix Aylmer The Black Sheep of Whitehall is a 1942 British black-and-white comedy war film, directed by Will Hay and Basil Dearden, and; starring Will Hay as Professor Will Davis, John Mills and Basil ...more

41
0 0
Rio Rita is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Rio Rita Lou Costello, Bud Abbott, Kathryn Grayson Rio Rita is a 1942 comedy film starring Abbott and Costello. It was based upon the 1927 Flo Ziegfeld Broadway musical, which was previously made into a 1929 film also titled Rio Rita that ...more

42
0 0
Blue, White and Perfect is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Blue, White and Perfect George Reeves, Mary Beth Hughes, Curt Bois Blue, White and Perfect is a 1942 comedy film directed by Herbert I. Leeds.

43
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Black Dragons is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Black Dragons Bela Lugosi, Joan Barclay Black Dragons is a 1942 American film directed by William Nigh and starring Bela Lugosi, Joan Barclay, and George Pembroke. The Black Dragon Society also appears in Let's Get Tough! a 1942 East ...more

44
0 1
Sky Murder is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Sky Murder Walter Pidgeon, Chill Wills, Tom Conway Sky Murder is a 1940 mystery, comedy and drama film written by William R. Lipman and directed by George B. Seitz.

45
0 1
British Intelligence is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
British Intelligence Boris Karloff, Margaret Lindsay, Holmes Herbert British Intelligence is a 1940 spy film set in World War I. It was directed by Terry O. Morse and starred Boris Karloff and Margaret Lindsay. The film, also known as Enemy Agent, was released in ...more

46
0 1
Waterfront is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Waterfront John Carradine, J. Carrol Naish, Dick Curtis Waterfront is a 1944 American film from PRC Pictures directed by Steve Sekely.

47
0 1
Conspirator is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best '40s Spy Movies
Conspirator Elizabeth Taylor, Honor Blackman, Robert Taylor Conspirator is a 1949 British thriller film directed by Victor Saville and starring Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor. Based on the 1948 novel Conspirator by Humphrey Slater, the film is about ...more