Entertainment

The Best '50s Thriller Movies  

Ranker Film
1.6k votes 372 voters 13.8k 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.
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26
Suddenly, Last Summer is listed (or ranked) 26 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
27
Where the Sidewalk Ends is listed (or ranked) 27 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
28
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
Mr. Arkadin is listed (or ranked) 29 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
30
D.O.A. is listed (or ranked) 30 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
31
The Naked Spur is listed (or ranked) 31 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
32
Godzilla is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
33
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
Kiss Me Deadly is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Cloris Leachman, Nat King Cole, Jack Elam
This film 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 mystery ...more
35
While the City Sleeps is listed (or ranked) 35 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
36
Gun Crazy is listed (or ranked) 36 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
37
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
Panic in the Streets is listed (or ranked) 38 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
39
Kansas City Confidential is listed (or ranked) 39 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
40
Pickup on South Street is listed (or ranked) 40 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
41
Throne of Blood is listed (or ranked) 41 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
42
The Big Combo is listed (or ranked) 42 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.
43
Elevator to the Gallows is listed (or ranked) 43 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
44
A Man Escaped is listed (or ranked) 44 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
45
The Narrow Margin is listed (or ranked) 45 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
46
Killer's Kiss is listed (or ranked) 46 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
47
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