Entertainment

The Best '50s Thriller Movies  

Ranker Film
1.6k votes 366 voters 13.2k 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
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
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
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
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
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
The Man Who Knew Too Much is listed (or ranked) 6 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
7
To Catch a Thief is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock
This film 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 Grant who ...more
8
The Night of the Hunter is listed (or ranked) 8 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
9
The Day the Earth Stood Still is listed (or ranked) 9 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
10
Touch of Evil is listed (or ranked) 10 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
11
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is listed (or ranked) 11 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
12
Bad Day at Black Rock is listed (or ranked) 12 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
13
The Big Heat is listed (or ranked) 13 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. The film was written by former reporter Sydney Boehm, based on a serial by William P. ...more
14
H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds is listed (or ranked) 14 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
15
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 15 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
16
The Killing is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards
This film 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
17
House on Haunted Hill is listed (or ranked) 17 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
18
3:10 to Yuma is listed (or ranked) 18 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
19
The Trouble with Harry is listed (or ranked) 19 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
20
The Desperate Hours is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
The Asphalt Jungle is listed (or ranked) 21 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
22
Niagara is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
Stage Fright is listed (or ranked) 23 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
24
I Confess is listed (or ranked) 24 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
25
The Bad Seed is listed (or ranked) 25 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