The Best '50s Thriller Movies

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.
Ranked by
  • Rear Window
    James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
    • Released: 1954
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

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

  • Vertigo
    James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes
    • Released: 1958
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
  • North by Northwest
    Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
    • Released: 1959
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Dial M for Murder
    Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Bob Cummings
    • Released: 1954
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Strangers on a Train
    Robert Walker, Farley Granger, Ruth Roman
    • Released: 1951
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much
    James Stewart, Doris Day, Bernard Miles
    • Released: 1956
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
  • To Catch a Thief
    Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis
    • Released: 1955
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Bad Day at Black Rock
    Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis
    • Released: 1955
    • Directed by: John Sturges
  • The Night of the Hunter
    Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish
    • Released: 1955
    • Directed by: Charles Laughton
  • The Fly
    David Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price
    • Released: 1958
    • Directed by: Kurt Neumann
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers
    Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Carolyn Jones
    • Released: 1956
    • Directed by: Don Siegel
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still
    Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe
    • Released: 1951
    • Directed by: Robert Wise
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  • Touch of Evil
    Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Janet Leigh
    • Released: 1958
    • Directed by: Orson Welles
  • Suddenly, Last Summer
    Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Katharine Hepburn
    • Released: 1959
    • Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • House on Haunted Hill
    Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Richard Long
    • Released: 1959
    • Directed by: William Castle
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  • The Asphalt Jungle
    Sterling Hayden, Sam Jaffe, Marilyn Monroe
    • Released: 1950
    • Directed by: John Huston
  • The Naked Spur
    James Stewart, Janet Leigh, Robert Ryan
    • Released: 1953
    • Directed by: Anthony Mann
  • 3:10 to Yuma
    Van Heflin, Glenn Ford, Felicia Farr
    • Released: 1957
    • Directed by: Delmer Daves
  • The Desperate Hours
    Humphrey Bogart, Fredric March, Martha Scott
    • Released: 1955
    • Directed by: William Wyler
  • D.O.A.
    Edmond O'Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler
    • Released: 1949
    • Directed by: Rudolph Maté
  • Beat the Devil
    Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida
    • Released: 1953
    • Directed by: John Huston
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  • Niagara
    Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters
    • Released: 1953
    • Directed by: Henry Hathaway
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  • The Trouble with Harry
    Edmund Gwenn, Shirley MacLaine, John Forsythe
    • Released: 1955
    • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
  • The Big Heat
    Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando
    • Released: 1953
    • Directed by: Fritz Lang
  • The Bad Seed
    Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones
    • Released: 1956
    • Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy