Classic Movies The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked  

Ranker Film
704 votes 121 voters 8.2k views 48 items

List Rules Vote 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.

list ordered by

1
30 3
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins Psycho is a 1960 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film centers on an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane, who ends up at a secluded motel after stealing money from ...more

2
30 4
Rear Window is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
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

3
26 8
Vertigo is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
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
22 7
North by Northwest is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
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
21 7
Dial M for Murder is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
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

6
17 6
Cape Fear is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Telly Savalas Cape Fear is a 1962 American psychological thriller film starring Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Martin Balsam and Polly Bergen. It was adapted by James R. Webb from the novel The Executioners by ...more

7
15 6
Double indemnity is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked

8
16 7
Murder on the Orient Express is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall Murder on the Orient Express is a 1974 British Technicolor mystery film directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, and based on the 1934 novel Murder on the Orient ...more

9
16 7
Wait Until Dark is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Robby Benson Wait Until Dark is a suspense-thriller film directed by Terence Young and produced by Mel Ferrer. It stars Audrey Hepburn as a young blind woman, Alan Arkin as a violent criminal searching for ...more

10
18 9
Strangers on a Train is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
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

11
11 3
Jaws is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The prototypical summer blockbuster, its release is regarded as a ...more

12
12 4
Gaslight is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Ingrid Bergman, Angela Lansbury, Charles Boyer Gaslight is an American 1944 mystery-thriller film adapted from Patrick Hamilton's 1938 play Gas Light. It was the second version to be filmed, following the British film Gaslight, directed by ...more

13
12 4
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock Notorious is a 1946 American spy thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately ...more

14
10 4
Halloween is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence Halloween is a 1978 American independent slasher horror film directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill, and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her ...more

15
13 7
The Manchurian Candidate is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Janet Leigh The Manchurian Candidate is a 1962 American Cold War suspense thriller directed by John Frankenheimer that stars Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Janet Leigh and co-stars Angela Lansbury, ...more

16
9 4
Suspicion is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine Suspicion is a romantic psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine as a married couple. It also stars Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame ...more

17
13 8
Deliverance is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty Deliverance is a 1972 American dramatic thriller film produced and directed by John Boorman, and starring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, with the latter two making their ...more

18
11 7
What Ever Happened to Baby Jan... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Robert Aldrich What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a 1962 American psychological thriller film produced and directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford about an actress who holds her ...more

19
8 4
Carrie is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
John Travolta, Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie Carrie is a 1976 American supernatural horror film based on Stephen King's first major 1974 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Brian De Palma and written by Lawrence D. Cohen. The ...more

20
12 9
Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine Rebecca is a 1940 American psychological thriller-drama film. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it was his first American project, and his first film produced under contract with David O. Selznick. ...more

21
12 9
Charade is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Coburn Charade is a 1963 Technicolor American romantic comedy/mystery film directed by Stanley Donen, written by Peter Stone and Marc Behm, and starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. The cast also ...more

22
7 4
The Stepford Wives is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Tina Louise, Mary Stuart Masterson, Katharine Ross The Stepford Wives is a 1975 science fiction–thriller film based on the 1972 Ira Levin novel of the same name. It was directed by Bryan Forbes with a screenplay by William Goldman, and stars ...more

23
6 3
When a Stranger Calls is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Rachel Roberts When a Stranger Calls is a 1979 psychological horror film. It was directed by Fred Walton and stars Carol Kane and Charles Durning. The film derives its story from the classic folk legend of ...more

24
6 4
Three Days of the Condor is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow Three Days of the Condor is a 1975 American political thriller film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson, and Max von Sydow. The screenplay by ...more

25
6 4
The Thin Man is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Myrna Loy, Cesar Romero, Maureen O'Sullivan The Thin Man is a 1934 American comedy-mystery film directed by W.S. Van Dyke and based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. The film stars William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and ...more

26
5 3
Play Misty for Me is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter Play Misty for Me is a 1971 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, in his directorial debut. Jessica Walter and Donna Mills co-star. The original music ...more

27
5 3
The Taking of Pelham One Two T... is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Jerry Stiller, Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a 1974 American thriller film directed by Joseph Sargent, produced by Edgar J. Scherick, and starring Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam and ...more

28
6 5
The Spiral Staircase is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Rhonda Fleming, Ethel Barrymore, Elsa Lanchester The Spiral Staircase is a 1946 American psychological thriller film directed by Robert Siodmak, from a screenplay by Mel Dinelli based on Ethel Lina White's novel Some Must Watch. The novel was ...more

29
6 5
The Omen is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner The Omen is a 1976 British/American supernatural horror film directed by Richard Donner. The film stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Spencer Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick ...more

30
5 4
Sisters is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Margot Kidder, Charles Durning, Olympia Dukakis Sisters is a 1973 American horror film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt and Charles Durning. The plot focuses on a French Canadian model whose separated ...more

31
6 6
The Red House is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Edward G. Robinson, Julie London, Judith Anderson The Red House is an American 1947 psychological thriller starring Edward G. Robinson. It is adapted from the novel The Red House by George Agnew Chamberlain, published in 1943 by Popular

32
6 6
The Cabinet of Caligari is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Constance Ford, Glynis Johns, J. Pat O'Malley The Cabinet of Caligari is a film by Roger Kay, starring Glynis Johns, Dan O'Herlihy, and Richard Davalos, and released by 20th Century Fox. Although the film has a title that is very similar to ...more

33
5 5
The Fury is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Kirk Douglas, Daryl Hannah, Jim Belushi The Fury is a 1978 supernatural thriller film directed by Brian De Palma. The film was written by John Farris, based on his novel of the same name. It starred Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, ...more

34
4 5
The French Connection is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey The French Connection is a 1971 American dramatic thriller film directed by William Friedkin and produced by Philip D'Antoni. It stars Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, and Roy Scheider. The film was ...more

35
3 4
The Drowning Pool is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Paul Newman, Melanie Griffith, Joanne Woodward The Drowning Pool is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Stuart Rosenberg, and based upon Ross Macdonald's novel The Drowning Pool. The film stars Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, and Anthony ...more

36
2 3
The Killer Elite is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Robert Duvall, James Caan, Gig Young The Killer Elite is a 1975 American action thriller film starring James Caan and Robert Duvall and directed by Sam Peckinpah. The screenplay was written by Marc Norman and Stirling Silliphant ...more

37
2 3
Torn Curtain is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, Alfred Hitchcock Torn Curtain is a 1966 American political thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. Written by Brian Moore, the film is about an American scientist who ...more

38
9 11
Marathon Man is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy Scheider Marathon Man is a 1976 suspense/thriller film directed by John Schlesinger. It was adapted by William Goldman from his novel of the same name and stars Dustin Hoffman, Laurence Olivier, Roy ...more

39
5 7
What's the Matter with Helen? is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Debbie Reynolds, Shelley Winters, Yvette Vickers What's the Matter With Helen? is a 1971 thriller film starring Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters.

40
5 7
The Girl Who Knew Too Much is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Adam West, Nancy Kwan, Valentina Cortese The Girl Who Knew Too Much is a 1969 film starring Adam West as Johnny Cain, a nightclub owner and former freelance adventurer who is forced out of retirement when a crime syndicate boss is ...more

41
2 4
Audrey Rose is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Anthony Hopkins, Marsha Mason, John Hillerman Audrey Rose is a 1977 psychological horror and drama film directed by Robert Wise, and starring Marsha Mason, Anthony Hopkins, and Susan Swift. It was based on the novel of the same title by ...more

42
1 3
Obsession is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
John Lithgow, Cliff Robertson, Geneviève Bujold Obsession is a 1976 psychological thriller/mystery directed by Brian De Palma, starring Cliff Robertson, Geneviève Bujold, John Lithgow, and Stocker Fontelieu. The screenplay was by Paul ...more

43
1 3
Family Plot is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Alfred Hitchcock, Bruce Dern, Karen Black Family Plot is a 1976 American dark comedy/thriller film that was the final film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film was based on Victor Canning's novel The Rainbird Pattern, which Ernest ...more

44
1 3
Games is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
James Caan, Katharine Ross, Simone Signoret Games is a 1967 psychological thriller, directed by Curtis Harrington and starring Katharine Ross, James Caan, and Simone Signoret.

45
1 3
Hustle is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Burt Reynolds, Catherine Deneuve, Gregory Peck Hustle is a 1975 American neo-noir crime film directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Burt Reynolds, Catherine Deneuve, Ben Johnson, Paul Winfield, Eileen Brennan, Eddie Albert and Ernest ...more

46
3 6
Seven Sinners is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich Seven Sinners is a 1940 American adventure film starring Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne in the first of three films they made together. The film was produced by Universal Pictures in black and

47
1 5
Duel is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Lou Frizzell Duel is a 1971 television thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Richard Matheson, based on Matheson's short story of the same name. It stars Dennis Weaver as a terrified ...more

48
5 10
The First Great Train Robbery is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, Lesley-Anne Down The First Great Train Robbery – known in the U.S. as The Great Train Robbery – is a 1979 film directed by Michael Crichton, who also wrote the screenplay based on his novel The Great Train ...more