film The Best '50s Thriller Movies  

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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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Rear Window is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Rear Window 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 "It Had to Be Murder". ...more

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

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Vertigo is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Vertigo 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

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

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

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The Man Who Knew Too Much is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Man Who Knew Too Much 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

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Touch of Evil is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Touch of Evil Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich Touch of Evil is a 1958 American crime 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 ...more

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To Catch a Thief is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
To Catch a Thief 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

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The Day the Earth Stood Still is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Day the Earth Stood Still 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

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 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

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The Night of the Hunter is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Night of the Hunter 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

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Niagara is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Niagara 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

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H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Channing Tatum The War of the Worlds 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 ...more

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The Killing is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Killing 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

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Rififi is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Rififi 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

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Kiss Me Deadly is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Kiss Me Deadly 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

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Bad Day at Black Rock is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Bad Day at Black Rock 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

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The Big Heat is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Big Heat 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

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3:10 to Yuma is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
3:10 to Yuma 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

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Suddenly, Last Summer is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Suddenly, Last Summer 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

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The Trouble with Harry is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Trouble with Harry 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

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I Confess is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
I Confess 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

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The Naked Spur is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Naked Spur 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

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The Fly is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Fly 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

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House on Haunted Hill is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
House on Haunted Hill 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

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The Bad Seed is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Bad Seed 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

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Stage Fright is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Stage Fright 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

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The Asphalt Jungle is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Asphalt Jungle 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

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It Came from Outer Space is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
It Came from Outer Space 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

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The Desperate Hours is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Desperate Hours 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

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Throne of Blood is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Throne of Blood 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

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Pickup on South Street is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Pickup on South Street 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

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A Man Escaped is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
A Man Escaped 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

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Mr. Arkadin is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Mr. Arkadin 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

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Beat the Devil is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Beat the Devil 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

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D.O.A. is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
stubb added D.O.A. 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

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Panic in the Streets is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Panic in the Streets 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

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Where the Sidewalk Ends is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Where the Sidewalk Ends 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

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While the City Sleeps is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
While the City Sleeps 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

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Gun Crazy is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Gun Crazy 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

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Elevator to the Gallows is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Elevator to the Gallows 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

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Kansas City Confidential is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Kansas City Confidential 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

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Plan 9 from Outer Space is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Plan 9 from Outer Space 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

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The Narrow Margin is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Narrow Margin 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

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The Big Combo is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
The Big Combo 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.

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Godzilla is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies

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Killer's Kiss is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best '50s Thriller Movies
Killer's Kiss 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