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415 voters

The Best '50s Thriller Movies

Updated October 8, 2019 2.3k votes 415 voters 16.8k views47 items

List RulesVote 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 Window1
    111
    14

    Rear Window

    Grace Kelly, James Stewart

    Released1954

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    This is one of the most well-known classic thriller movies ever made.

    Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written...  more

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  • Vertigo2
    92
    12

    Vertigo

    James Stewart, Kim Novak

    Released1958

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Vertigo is a 1958 American psychological thriller film directed and produced by Alfred...  more

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  • Dial M for Murder3
    84
    14

    Dial M for Murder

    Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock

    Released1954

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    This film is a 1954 3-D American thriller film in Warnercolor directed by Alfred Hitchcock,...  more

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  • North by Northwest4
    82
    17

    North by Northwest

    Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock

    Released1959

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    North by Northwest is a 1959 American spy thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and...  more

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  • Godzilla5
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  • The Man Who Knew Too Much6
    47
    12

    The Man Who Knew Too Much

    James Stewart, Doris Day

    Released1956

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    The Man Who Knew Too Much is a 1956 suspense thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock,...  more

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  • Stage Fright7
    41
    10

    Stage Fright

    Marlene Dietrich, Alfred Hitchcock

    Released1950

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Stage Fright is a 1950 British crime film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock starring...  more
  • To Catch a Thief8
    51
    20

    To Catch a Thief

    Grace Kelly, Cary Grant

    Released1955

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    This film is a 1955 romantic thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, from a screenplay by John...  more
  • Beat the Devil9
    36
    9

    Beat the Devil

    Humphrey Bogart, Gina Lollobrigida

    Released1953

    Directed byJohn Huston

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    Beat the Devil is a 1953 film directed by John Huston. The screenplay was by Huston and Truman...  more
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still10
    43
    16

    The Day the Earth Stood Still

    Patricia Neal, Michael Rennie

    Released1951

    Directed byRobert Wise

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    The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 1951 American black-and-white science fiction film from...  more
  • It Came from Outer Space11
    36
    11

    It Came from Outer Space

    Russell Johnson, Richard Carlson

    Released1953

    Directed byJack Arnold

    It Came from Outer Space is a 1953 American black-and-white science fiction film, the first in...  more
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  • Strangers on a Train12
    52
    29

    Strangers on a Train

    Alfred Hitchcock, Farley Granger

    Released1951

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Strangers on a Train is a 1951 American psychological thriller film noir produced and directed...  more
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  • Bad Day at Black Rock13
    33
    12

    Bad Day at Black Rock

    Spencer Tracy, Ernest Borgnine

    Released1955

    Directed byJohn Sturges

    Bad Day at Black Rock is a 1955 thriller film directed by John Sturges and starring Spencer...  more

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  • H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds14
    35
    16

    H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds

    Gene Barry, Ann Robinson

    Released1953

    Directed byByron Haskin

    This film is a 1953 American Technicolor science fiction film from Paramount Pictures,...  more

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  • The Night of the Hunter15
    39
    23

    The Night of the Hunter

    Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters

    Released1955

    Directed byCharles Laughton, Terry Sanders, Robert Mitchum

    The Night of the Hunter is an American thriller film directed by Charles Laughton and starring...  more

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  • The Big Heat16
    26
    9

    The Big Heat

    Lee Marvin, Glenn Ford

    Released1953

    Directed byFritz Lang

    The Big Heat is a 1953 film noir directed by Fritz Lang, starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame...  more

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  • The Killing17
    25
    11

    The Killing

    Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray

    Released1956

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    This film is a 1956 film noir produced by James B. Harris and directed by Stanley Kubrick. It...  more

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  • 3:10 to Yuma18
    24
    11

    3:10 to Yuma

    Glenn Ford, Van Heflin

    Released1957

    Directed byDelmer Daves

    3:10 to Yuma is a 1957 American western film starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin and directed...  more
  • The Trouble with Harry19
    21
    11

    The Trouble with Harry

    Shirley MacLaine, Alfred Hitchcock

    Released1955

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    The Trouble with Harry is a 1955 American black comedy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The...  more

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  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers20
    39
    34

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers

    Dana Wynter, Sam Peckinpah

    Released1956

    Directed byDon Siegel

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1956 American black-and-white science fiction film...  more

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  • Mr. Arkadin21
    16
    9

    Mr. Arkadin

    Orson Welles, Michael Redgrave

    Released1955

    Directed byOrson Welles

    Mr. Arkadin, known in Britain as Confidential Report, is a French-Spanish-Swiss coproduction...  more
  • The Fly22
    27
    23

    The Fly

    Vincent Price, David Hedison

    Released1958

    Directed byKurt Neumann

    The Fly is a 1958 American science fiction-horror film produced and directed by Kurt Neumann....  more
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  • Niagara23
    20
    15

    Niagara

    Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten

    Released1953

    Directed byHenry Hathaway

    Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial
    Niagara is an American 1953 thriller-film noir, released by Twentieth Century-Fox, directed by...  more
  • The Big Combo24
    14
    8

    The Big Combo

    Lee Van Cleef, Brian Donlevy

    Released1955

    Directed byJoseph H. Lewis

    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...  more
  • Killer's Kiss25
    17
    11

    Killer's Kiss

    Frank Silvera, Ruth Sobotka

    Released1955

    Directed byStanley Kubrick

    Killer's Kiss is a 1955 American film noir directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Kubrick...  more