50s Movies The Best '50s Thriller Movies  

Ranker Film
1.1k votes 300 voters 9.9k views 47 items

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

The best '50s thriller movies are an interesting mix of films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, films NOT-directed by Hitchcock, and spy movies. Of course, Hitchcock dominated the genre, especially because he had recently started including technicolor in his films. Besides Hitchcock, many legendary directors made thrillers in the ‘50s, and a number of these films are still watched and discussed today.


What are the greatest ‘50s thriller movies? Once again, Alfred Hitchcock, the British luminary, dominates this list. Classic Hitchcock offerings such as
Vertigo and North by Northwest were two of the top thrillers of the decade, along with lesser known - but still super suspenseful -  titles, such as I Confess.  

Another legendary director, Stanley Kubrick, made some of the top 1950s thrillers. Some of his first features were produced in the ‘50s, like Killer’s Kiss, which chilled and thrilled audiences with its macabre tone and surprising twists. In addition, many of these films could be classified as capers, noir films, and heist movies. Rififi, a classic French crime thriller, was released in 1955, and features a famously-intricate half hour heist, presented in almost total silence, with little to no dialogue and no music.


On this list, you’ll also find plenty of great sci-fi ‘50s thrillers, including
The Day the Earth Stood Still. Vote up the best '50s thriller movies, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.
list ordered by

1
61 4
Rear Window is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Grace Kelly, James Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written by John Michael Hayes based on Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story. Originally released by Paramount ...more

2
51 6
Dial M for Murder is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland This film is a 1954 3-D American thriller film in Warnercolor directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings. The screenplay and the successful stage play ...more

3
48 6
Vertigo is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
James Stewart, Kim Novak, Alfred Hitchcock Vertigo is a 1958 American psychological thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock. The story was based on the 1954 novel D'entre les morts by Boileau-Narcejac. The screenplay was ...more

4
52 11
North by Northwest is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '50s Thriller 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

5
28 6
Strangers on a Train is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Alfred Hitchcock, Farley Granger, Leo G. Carroll Strangers on a Train is an American psychological thriller film produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and based on the 1950 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith. It was shot in the ...more

6
31 10
To Catch a Thief is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock To Catch a Thief is a 1955 romantic thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, from a screenplay by John Michael Hayes based on the 1952 novel of the same name by David Dodge. The film stars Cary ...more

7
29 10
Touch of Evil is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich Touch of Evil is a 1958 American thriller film, written, directed by, and co-starring Orson Welles. The screenplay was loosely based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson. Along with ...more

8
27 9
The Man Who Knew Too Much is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
James Stewart, Doris Day, Alfred Hitchcock The Man Who Knew Too Much is a 1956 suspense thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart and Doris Day. The film is a somewhat altered remake in widescreen VistaVision and ...more

9
25 8
The Night of the Hunter is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish The Night of the Hunter is an American thriller film directed by Charles Laughton and starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. Based on the 1953 novel of the same name by Davis ...more

10
26 13
The Day the Earth Stood Still is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Patricia Neal, Michael Rennie, Frances Bavier Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 1951 American black-and-white science fiction film from 20th Century Fox, produced by Julian Blaustein, directed by Robert Wise, and starring Michael Rennie, ...more

11
20 8
Bad Day at Black Rock is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Spencer Tracy, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin Bad Day at Black Rock is a 1955 thriller film directed by John Sturges and starring Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan that combines elements of Westerns and film noir. The supporting cast includes ...more

12
23 12
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Dana Wynter, Sam Peckinpah, Carolyn Jones Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1956 American black-and-white science fiction film produced by Walter Wanger, directed by Don Siegel, and starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. The film ...more

13
18 8
Suddenly, Last Summer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift Suddenly, Last Summer is a 1959 American Southern Gothic mystery film based on the play of the same title by Tennessee Williams. The film was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and produced by Sam ...more

14
18 8
The Killing is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards The Killing is a 1956 film noir produced by James B. Harris and directed by Stanley Kubrick. It was written by Kubrick and Jim Thompson and based on the novel Clean Break by Lionel White. The ...more

15
14 5
Niagara is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Niagara is an American 1953 thriller-film noir, released by Twentieth Century-Fox, directed by Henry Hathaway, and starring Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters, Casey Adams, and Marilyn Monroe. Unlike ...more

16
16 7
The Big Heat is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Lee Marvin, Glenn Ford, Carolyn Jones The Big Heat is a 1953 film noir directed by Fritz Lang, starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin. It is about a cop who takes on the crime syndicate that controls his city, after the ...more

17
21 13
H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Channing Tatum This film is a 1953 American Technicolor science fiction film from Paramount Pictures, produced by George Pal, directed by Byron Haskin, and starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson. The film is a ...more

18
11 4
The Asphalt Jungle is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Marilyn Monroe, Jack Warden, James Whitmore The Asphalt Jungle is a 1950 film noir directed by John Huston. The caper film is based on the 1949 novel of the same name by W. R. Burnett and stars an ensemble cast including Sterling Hayden, ...more

19
12 5
D.O.A. is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
stubb added Edmond O'Brien, Beverly Garland, Neville Brand D.O.A., a film noir drama film directed by Rudolph Maté, is considered a classic of the genre. The frantically paced plot revolves around a doomed man's quest to find out who has poisoned ...more

20
14 7
House on Haunted Hill is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Vincent Price, Richard Long, Elisha Cook Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial House on Haunted Hill is a 1959 American horror film. It was directed by William Castle, written by Robb White and stars Vincent Price as eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren. He and his fourth ...more

21
14 7
The Bad Seed is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Shelley Fabares, Patty McCormack, Eileen Heckart The Bad Seed is a 1956 American horror-thriller film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones, and Eileen Heckart The film is based upon a play by Maxwell ...more

22
8 2
Where the Sidewalk Ends is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Gene Tierney, Karl Malden, Dana Andrews Where the Sidewalk Ends is a 1950 American film noir directed and produced by Otto Preminger. The screenplay for the film was written by Ben Hecht, and adapted by Robert E. Kent, Frank P. ...more

23
10 4
The Desperate Hours is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Humphrey Bogart, Gig Young, Fredric March The Desperate Hours is a 1955 film from Paramount Pictures starring Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March. The movie was produced and directed by William Wyler and based on a novel and play of the ...more

24
11 5
Stage Fright is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Marlene Dietrich, Alfred Hitchcock, Jane Wyman Stage Fright is a 1950 British crime film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock starring Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding and Richard Todd. Others in the cast include Alastair ...more

25
13 7
I Confess is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Alfred Hitchcock, Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter I Confess is a 1953 drama film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Montgomery Clift as Fr. Michael William Logan, a Catholic priest, Anne Baxter as Ruth Grandfort, and Karl Malden as ...more

26
13 7
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Vincent Price, David Hedison, Herbert Marshall The Fly is a 1958 American science fiction-horror film produced and directed by Kurt Neumann. The screenplay was written by James Clavell, from the short story of the same name by George ...more

27
15 9
Kiss Me Deadly is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Cloris Leachman, Nat King Cole, Jack Elam Kiss Me Deadly is a 1955 film noir drama produced and directed by Robert Aldrich starring Ralph Meeker. The screenplay was written by A.I. Bezzerides, based on the Mickey Spillane Mike Hammer ...more

28
10 5
Beat the Devil is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Humphrey Bogart, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lorre Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Beat the Devil is a 1953 film directed by John Huston. The screenplay was by Huston and Truman Capote, loosely based upon a novel of the same name by British journalist Claud Cockburn, writing ...more

29
15 10
The Trouble with Harry is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Shirley MacLaine, Alfred Hitchcock, John Forsythe The Trouble with Harry is a 1955 American black comedy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay by John Michael Hayes was based on the 1950 novel by Jack Trevor Story. It starred Edmund ...more

30
11 6
The Naked Spur is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
James Stewart, Janet Leigh, Robert Ryan The Naked Spur is a 1953 Technicolor American western film directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart, Janet Leigh, and Robert Ryan. Written by Sam Rolfe and Harold Jack Bloom, the film ...more

31
11 7
3:10 to Yuma is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Glenn Ford, Van Heflin, Richard Jaeckel 3:10 to Yuma is a 1957 American western film starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin and directed by Delmer Daves. The film was based on a 1953 short story by Elmore Leonard. In 2012, the film was ...more

32
10 6
Mr. Arkadin is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Orson Welles, Michael Redgrave, Akim Tamiroff Mr. Arkadin, known in Britain as Confidential Report, is a French-Spanish-Swiss coproduction film, written and directed by Orson Welles and shot in several Spanish locations, including Costa ...more

33
10 6
It Came from Outer Space is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Russell Johnson, Richard Carlson, Dave Willock It Came from Outer Space is a 1953 American black-and-white science fiction film, the first in the 3-D process from Universal-International. It was produced by William Alland, directed by Jack ...more

34
6 2
While the City Sleeps is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Vincent Price, George Sanders, Rhonda Fleming While the City Sleeps is a 1956 film noir directed by Fritz Lang. Written by Casey Robinson, the newspaper drama was based on The Bloody Spur by Charles Einstein, which depicts the story of ...more

35
13 10
Gun Crazy is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Russ Tamblyn, Peggy Cummins, Trevor Bardette Gun Crazy is a 1950 film noir feature film directed by Joseph H. Lewis, and produced by Frank King and Maurice King. The production features Peggy Cummins and John Dall in a story about the ...more

36
7 4
Panic in the Streets is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Jack Palance, Richard Widmark, Barbara Bel Geddes Panic in the Streets is a 1950 film noir directed by Elia Kazan. It was shot exclusively on location in New Orleans, Louisiana and features numerous New Orleans citizens in speaking and ...more

37
13 11
Rififi is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Jules Dassin, Robert Hossein, Carl Möhner Rififi is a 1955 French crime film adaptation of Auguste Le Breton's novel of the same name. Directed by American filmmaker Jules Dassin, the film stars Jean Servais as the aging gangster Tony ...more

38
9 7
Pickup on South Street is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best '50s Thriller 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

39
7 5
The Narrow Margin is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Charles McGraw, George Chandler, Marie Windsor The Narrow Margin is a 1952 American film noir directed by Richard Fleischer and written by Earl Felton, based on an unpublished story written by Martin Goldsmith and Jack Leonard. The ...more

40
11 10
Godzilla is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies

41
9 8
A Man Escaped is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
François Leterrier, Jacques Ertaud, Maurice Beerblock A Man Escaped or: The Wind Bloweth Where It Listeth is a 1956 French film directed by Robert Bresson. It is based on the memoirs of André Devigny, a member of the French Resistance held ...more

42
6 5
Kansas City Confidential is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam, Coleen Gray Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Kansas City Confidential is a 1952 film noir crime film directed by Phil Karlson and starring John Payne, Coleen Gray, Preston Foster, Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam. The film was ...more

43
6 5
Killer's Kiss is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Frank Silvera, Ruth Sobotka, Felice Orlandi Killer's Kiss is a 1955 American film noir directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Kubrick and Howard Sackler. It is the second feature film directed by Kubrick. The film stars Jamie Smith, ...more

44
5 4
The Big Combo is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Lee Van Cleef, Brian Donlevy, Earl Holliman Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The Big Combo is a 1955 American film noir directed by Joseph H. Lewis and photographed by cinematographer John Alton, with music by David Raksin.

45
9 9
Elevator to the Gallows is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Jeanne Moreau, Lino Ventura, Maurice Ronet Ascenseur pour l'échafaud is a 1958 French crime film directed by Louis Malle. It was released as Elevator to the Gallows in the USA and as Lift to the Scaffold in the UK. It stars Jeanne ...more

46
12 13
Throne of Blood is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Isuzu Yamada Throne of Blood is a 1957 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film transposes the plot of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth to feudal Japan, with stylistic elements drawn from Noh

47
6 8
Plan 9 from Outer Space is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Tor Johnson, Bunny Breckinridge, Joanna Lee Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Plan 9 from Outer Space is a 1959 American black-and-white science fiction thriller film released by Distributors Corporation of America. The film was written, produced, directed, and edited by ...more