Film The Best '50s Spy Movies  

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List Rules Vote up your favorite espionage films that were released in the 1950s

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This collection of the greatest spy films of the 1950s represents some of the most beloved films of the genre. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, the Red Scare, and a culture of betrayal and tension, the spy movies of the '50s are rife with secret pickups, double-crosses, surveillance, and murder.

 
What is the best 1950s spy film? Many fans of the espionage genre would make the case for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 masterpiece
North by Northwest. Featuring an all-star cast including Eva Marie Saint, Cary Grant, and James Mason, the film is regarded as one of the finest spy movies ever made. Hitchcock’s influence can be seen all over this list of the top 1950s spy movies, in such films as The 39 Steps, a remake of Hitchcock’s 1935 film of the same name.


Also on this list, you will find classics such as
Pickup on South Street, The Man Who Never Was, and My Favorite Spy. Vote up the best '50s spy movies below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 
list ordered by

1
32 4
North by Northwest is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, Eva Marie Saint North by Northwest is a 1959 American spy thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. The screenplay was written by Ernest Lehman, who ...more

2
12 3
5 Fingers is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Michael Rennie, Danielle Darrieux, Walter Hampden 5 Fingers, known also as Five Fingers, is a 1952 American spy film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and produced by Otto Lang. The screenplay by Michael Wilson was based on the book Operation ...more

3
9 3
A Bullet for Joey is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Edward G. Robinson, George Raft, Peter Hansen A Bullet for Joey is a 1955 film noir directed by Lewis Allen and starring Edward G. Robinson and George Raft. The picture involves a gangster who sneaks into Canada to kidnap a scientist for ...more

4
11 5
The 39 Steps is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Sid James, Kenneth More, Joan Hickson The 39 Steps is a 1959 British thriller film produced by Betty Box, directed by Ralph Thomas and starring Kenneth More and Taina Elg. It is a remake of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, loosely ...more

5
11 5
Pickup on South Street is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Richard Widmark, Thelma Ritter, Jean Peters Pickup on South Street is a Cold War spy film noir written and directed by Samuel Fuller and released by the 20th Century Fox studio. The film stars Richard Widmark, Jean Peters and Thelma ...more

6
11 6
My Favorite Spy is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Bob Hope, Hedy Lamarr, Marc Lawrence My Favorite Spy is a 1951 comedy film starring Bob Hope and Hedy Lamarr. The movie was directed by Norman Z. McLeod.

7
9 4
The Man Who Never Was is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Clifton Webb, Stephen Boyd, Gloria Grahame The Man Who Never Was is a 1956 war film directed by Ronald Neame.

8
8 4
Decision Before Dawn is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Richard Basehart, Hildegard Knef, Oskar Werner Decision Before Dawn is a 1951 American war film directed by Anatole Litvak, starring Richard Basehart, Oskar Werner, and Hans Christian Blech. It tells the story of the American Army using ...more

9
7 3
Knock on Wood is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Danny Kaye, Torin Thatcher, Leon Askin Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Knock on Wood is a 1954 comedy starring Danny Kaye and Mai Zetterling. Other actors in the film include Torin Thatcher, David Burns, and Leon Askin. The film was written and directed by Melvin ...more

10
5 1
Affair in Trinidad is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, Juanita Moore Affair in Trinidad is a 1952 film noir produced by Hayworth's Beckworth Corporation, released by Columbia Pictures, and starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford. It is notable as Hayworth's ...more

11
7 4
Night People is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Gregory Peck, Buddy Ebsen, Broderick Crawford Night People is a 1954 motion picture drama starring Gregory Peck, Broderick Crawford, Anita Bjork and Buddy Ebsen, directed by Nunnally Johnson. It was co-written by Jed Harris, a noted ...more

12
6 3
Jungle Heat is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Lex Barker, James Westerfield, Mari Blanchard Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Jungle Heat is a 1957 action film directed by Howard W. Koch.

13
5 2
Big Jim McLain is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
John Wayne, James Arness, Harry Morgan Big Jim McLain is a 1952 political thriller film starring John Wayne and James Arness as HUAC investigators hunting down communists in the post-war Hawaii organized labor scene. Edward Ludwig ...more

14
4 1
China Gate is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Nat King Cole, Angie Dickinson, Lee Van Cleef China Gate is a 1957 Hollywood Cinemascope war film written, produced and directed by Samuel Fuller and released through 20th Century Fox.

15
6 4
Betrayed is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Victor Mature Betrayed is a 1954 war drama film directed by Gottfried Reinhardt from a screenplay by Ronald Millar and George Froeschel, and starring Clark Gable, Lana Turner and Victor Mature. The music ...more

16
5 4
The Man Between is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
The Man Between Claire Bloom, Hildegard Knef, Geoffrey Toone The Man Between is a 1953 drama film directed by Carol Reed.

17
4 3
The Scarlet Coat is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Anne Francis, George Sanders, Michael Wilding The Scarlet Coat is an Eastmancolor CinemaScope 1955 American historical drama and swashbuckler directed by John Sturges, based upon the events in the American Revolution in which Benedict ...more

18
3 2
Sea Devils is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Rock Hudson, Yvonne De Carlo, Bryan Forbes Sea Devils is a British–American historical adventure film, directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Rock Hudson, Yvonne De Carlo, and Maxwell Reed. The story is based on Victor Hugo's novel Toilers ...more

19
2 1
Captain Carey, U.S.A. is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Alan Ladd, Russ Tamblyn, Francis Lederer Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Captain Carey, U.S.A. is a 1950 drama film starring Alan Ladd, Wanda Hendrix, and Francis Lederer. An American returns to post-World War II Italy to bring a traitor to justice. The film was ...more

20
2 1
I Was a Communist for the FBI is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Frank Lovejoy, Dorothy Hart, Philip Carey I Was a Communist for the FBI is a 1951 American film noir drama directed by Gordon Douglas, and featuring Frank Lovejoy, Dorothy Hart, Philip Carey, and James Millican. The film was based on a ...more

21
2 1
My Son John is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Helen Hayes, Dean Jagger, Van Heflin Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial My Son John is a 1952 American drama film, starring Robert Walker as a man whose parents suspect he may be working as a Communist spy. It was directed by Leo McCarey. The film received an Oscar ...more

22
2 1
I Was an American Spy is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
I Was an American Spy Philip Ahn, Mark W. Clark, Ann Dvorak

23
2 1
Foreign Intrigue is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Robert Mitchum, Ingrid Thulin, Lauritz Falk Foreign Intrigue is a 1956 film starring Robert Mitchum The film is written, produced and directed by Sheldon Reynolds, who had produced a television series called Foreign Intrigue in 1951. ...more

24
2 1
World for Ransom is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Dan Duryea, Reginald Denny, Gene Lockhart World for Ransom is a 1954 American film directed by Robert Aldrich, who was uncredited for his work. Many of the actors and sets used in the film were from the Dan Duryea television show China ...more

25
4 4
Ill Met by Moonlight is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '50s Spy Movies
Christopher Lee, Dirk Bogarde, Michael Gough Ill Met by Moonlight, also known as Night Ambush, is a film by the British writer-director-producer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and the last movie they made together through ...more