Thrillers

The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked  

Ranker Film
1.1k votes 216 voters 21.1k views 49 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. And if you're a fan of these flicks, be sure to check out our list of the most suspenseful movies.

list ordered by
1
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 taking money from ...more
2
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. Originally released by Paramount ...more
3
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
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
Gaslight is listed (or ranked) 5 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
6
Dial M for Murder is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland
This film is a 1954 3-D American thriller film in Warnercolor directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings. The screenplay and the successful stage play ...more
7
Wait Until Dark is listed (or ranked) 7 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
8
What Ever Happened to Baby Jan... is listed (or ranked) 8 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
9
Jaws is listed (or ranked) 9 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
10
Double Indemnity is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir crime drama directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, based on James M. Cain's 1943 novella of the same name, which originally ...more
11
Suspicion is listed (or ranked) 11 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
12
Cape Fear is listed (or ranked) 12 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
13
Murder on the Orient Express is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall
This film is a 1974 British Technicolor mystery film directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, and based on the 1934 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie.
14
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
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
Strangers on a Train is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Classic Thriller Movies, Ranked
Alfred Hitchcock, Farley Granger, Leo G. Carroll
Strangers on a Train is a 1951 American psychological thriller film noir produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and based on the 1950 novel Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. It was ...more
17
Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 17 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
18
Deliverance is listed (or ranked) 18 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
19
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 19 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
20
The Stepford Wives is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
When a Stranger Calls is listed (or ranked) 21 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
22
Play Misty for Me is listed (or ranked) 22 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
23
Charade is listed (or ranked) 23 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
24
The French Connection is listed (or ranked) 24 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
25
The Spiral Staircase is listed (or ranked) 25 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