Entertainment
269 voters

The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked

Updated February 18, 2021 2.2k votes 269 voters 26.5k views117 items

List RulesVote up your favorite old thrillers that were released before 1980.

This list contains information on the best classic thriller movies, ranked from best to worst by user votes. The best classic thriller films come in many forms. Some good old thrillers follow detectives with a hot lead while other good classic thrillers feature spouses with murderous intents. Many of the best classic thrillers were directed by the Master of Suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock.

What films will you find on this top classic thrillers released before 1980 list? Psycho has to be near the top. After a young woman goes missing, her boyfriend and sister join forces to find out what happened. The mystery unfolds with white-knuckle suspense until the twist of an ending surprises all involved. The Manchurian Candidate is anther great old thriller film.

Revenge is at the heart of the thrilling plot of Cape Fear starring a terrifying Robert Mitchum. Other great classic thriller films featured on this list include Rear Window, The Thin Man, and Murder on the Orient Express.

How will we ever determine which thriller deserves the top spot on this list? Help us decide by giving your favorite films a thumbs up and please add any good movies we may have missed. And if you're a fan of these flicks, be sure to check out our list of the most suspenseful movies.

Photo:
...more
  • 1
    98
    11

    Rear Window

    Grace Kelly, James Stewart
    Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written...  more

    More Rear Window 

    #23 of 25 All The Brilliant Horror And Suspense Movie Homages In 'American Horror Story'#9 of 44 Every Single Movie On Rotten Tomatoes With 100% Approval, Ranked

  • 2
    95
    14

    Psycho

    Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh
    Psycho is a 1960 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film centers on an...  more

    More Psycho 

    #8 of 24 The Best Movies with Twist Endings#95 of 139 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again

  • 3
    74
    15

    Vertigo

    James Stewart, Kim Novak
    Vertigo is a 1958 American psychological thriller film directed and produced by Alfred...  more

    More Vertigo 

    #304 of 315 Movies with the Best Soundtracks#45 of 135 The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made

  • 4
    62
    11

    North by Northwest

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

    More North by Northwest 

    #192 of 557 The Best Film Scores Of All Time#250 of 451 The Best Movies For Guys

  • 5
    57
    12

    Jaws

    Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss
    Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter...  more

    More Jaws 

    Behind The Scenes Of Every Death In ‘Jaws’#3 of 73 The Greatest Movies To Watch Outside

  • 6
    45
    13

    What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

    Bette Davis, Joan Crawford
    What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a 1962 American psychological thriller film produced and...  more

    More What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 

    #39 of 175 The Best Movies Of The '60s#120 of 246 The Best Rainy Day Movies

  • 7
    45
    14

    Halloween

    Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards
    Halloween is a 1978 American independent slasher horror film directed and scored by John...  more

    More Halloween 

    Stories About Jamie Lee Curtis From Behind The Scenes Of The Original 'Halloween'#2 of 86 The Best Teen Slasher Movies

  • 8
    55
    26

    Dial M for Murder

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

    More Dial M for Murder 

    #32 of 135 The Best Movies Based On Plays#106 of 144 The Best 3D Films

  • 9
    46
    21

    Murder on the Orient Express

    Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman
    This film is a 1974 British Technicolor mystery film directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Albert...  more

    More Murder on the Orient Express 

    #107 of 306 The Best Ensemble Movies#31 of 37 The Best Snowy Thriller Movies, Ranked

  • 10
    32
    8

    Gaslight

    Ingrid Bergman, Angela Lansbury
    Gaslight is an American 1944 mystery-thriller film adapted from Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play...  more

    More Gaslight 

    #1 of 15 15 Movies Where The Relationship Gaslighting Is The Real Horror#52 of 142 The Best Film Noir Movies

  • 11
    33
    12

    Carrie

    John Travolta, Sissy Spacek
    Carrie is a 1976 American supernatural horror film based on Stephen King's first major 1974...  more

    More Carrie 

    #7 of 123 The Best Intelligent Horror Movies#150 of 549 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

  • 12
    29
    9

    Suspicion

    Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock
    Suspicion is a romantic psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Cary...  more

    More Suspicion 

    The Best Quotes About Suspicion#18 of 33 The Scariest Alfred Hitchcock Movies

  • 13
    44
    27

    Wait Until Dark

    Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin
    Wait Until Dark is a suspense-thriller film directed by Terence Young and produced by Mel...  more

    More Wait Until Dark 

    #33 of 61 The Best Movies That (Mostly) Take Place In A Single Location#33 of 76 The Best Movies About Stalking

  • 14
    28
    10

    Double Indemnity

    Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck
    Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir crime drama directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by...  more

    More Double Indemnity 

    #16 of 50 The Best Movies Based on Short Stories#25 of 44 The Best Cheating Wife Movies

  • 15
    35
    19

    Cape Fear

    Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum
    Cape Fear is a 1962 American psychological thriller film starring Robert Mitchum, Gregory...  more

    More Cape Fear 

    #332 of 722 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time#103 of 380 The Best Movies Based On Books

  • 16
    29
    16

    Charade

    Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant
    Charade is a 1963 Technicolor American romantic comedy/mystery film directed by Stanley Donen,...  more

    More Charade 

    #573 of 1,195 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever#178 of 231 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

  • 17
    25
    13

    The Omen

    Gregory Peck, Lee Remick
    The Omen is a 1976 British/American supernatural horror film directed by Richard Donner. The...  more

    More The Omen 

    The Omen Is One Of The Most Cursed Film Productions Ever - And Some Believe Satan Is Behind It#20 of 54 The Best Movies Where the Bad Guy Wins

  • 18
    37
    29

    Strangers on a Train

    Alfred Hitchcock, Farley Granger
    Strangers on a Train is a 1951 American psychological thriller film noir produced and directed...  more

    More Strangers on a Train 

    #22 of 225 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made#19 of 248 The Best Whodunit Movies

  • 19
    18
    6

    Play Misty for Me

    Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills
    Play Misty for Me is a 1971 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring...  more

    More Play Misty for Me 

    #40 of 126 The Greatest Directorial Debuts Of All Time#25 of 45 The Best Movies Starring Clint Eastwood

  • 20
    19
    9

    When a Stranger Calls

    Carol Kane, Charles Durning
    When a Stranger Calls is a 1979 psychological horror film. It was directed by Fred Walton and...  more

    More When a Stranger Calls 

    #11 of 26 The Most Horrifying Home Invasion Movies#28 of 41 The Scariest Movies Set In Schools

  • 21
    33
    28

    Rebecca

    Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock
    Rebecca is a 1940 American psychological thriller-drama film. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it...  more

    More Rebecca 

    #37 of 105 The Best Valentine's Day Movies#4 of 75 The Greatest Classic Romance Movies

  • 22
    30
    24

    The Manchurian Candidate

    Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury
    The Manchurian Candidate is a 1962 American Cold War suspense thriller directed by John...  more

    More The Manchurian Candidate 

    #32 of 102 The 100+ Best Movies Streaming On The Criterion Channel#104 of 675 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

  • 23
    30
    27

    Notorious

    Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant
    Notorious is a 1946 American spy thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock,...  more

    More Notorious 

    #97 of 433 The Best Lifetime Movies Ever Made#4 of 56 The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s

  • 24
    25
    22

    The Stepford Wives

    Tina Louise, Mary Stuart Masterson
    The Stepford Wives is a 1975 science fiction–thriller film based on the 1972 Ira Levin novel...  more

    More The Stepford Wives 

    #1142 of 1,506 The Most Rewatchable Movies#355 of 782 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

  • 25
    22
    17

    The French Connection

    Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider
    The French Connection is a 1971 American dramatic thriller film directed by William Friedkin...  more

    More The French Connection 

    #17 of 46 Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes#35 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture