The best Alfred Hitchcock movies of all time

We rank all 52 features by the Master of Suspense, from his iconic thrillers to the lesser-known silents
Alfred Hitchcock movies
By Time Out contributors, edited by Joshua Rothkopf |
Advertising

His rotund silhouette and seesawing theme music remain iconic—but, of course, Alfred Hitchcock has a deeper impact. His influence can be felt in virtually every thriller made today. Inventing the very grammar of suspense cinema over dozens of action movies, horror films and silent classics—including Rear Window, Psycho, Strangers on a Train, Notorious and his Academy Award-winning Rebecca—Hitchcock was the world’s first genre specialist. Taken as a whole, his expert entertainments comprise one of filmgoing’s most pleasurable hedge mazes (trust us, you won’t mind getting lost). But where to enter? Let us suggest the way in with our ranking of all 52 Alfred Hitchcock movies. Do you want more great stories about things to do, where to eat, what to watch, and where to party? Obviously you do, follow Time Out New York on Facebook for the good stuff.

Written by Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Tom Huddleston, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich

RECOMMENDED: Our list of the 100 best movies of all time

Alfred Hitchcock movies: 52–41

52
Topaz
Movies

Topaz (1969)

Given how essential Hitchcock was at the turn of the ’60s, it’s depressing how out-of-touch he seemed by decade’s end. Based on a Leon Uris novel, this dull, gray-suited global espionage thriller lacks stars, excitement, and on occasion, coherence. An alternate ending was imposed on the director, whose playfulness comes through in only a sequence or two.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

51
The Family Plot
Movies, Thriller

Family Plot (1976)

Hitch’s final film is, sadly, whimper-not-bang time, despite having been written by North by Northwest scribe Ernest Lehman. The plot, which involves a phony psychic (Barbara Harris) and a kidnapping scheme, is best ignored, while even the director’s famous facility with an action scene is noticeably weakened by lame special effects.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
50
The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956
Movies

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Hitchcock’s remake of his own 1934 mystery (see No. 24) isn’t a bad film per se—it’s a workmanlike version of his signature wrong-man scenario, with James Stewart playing a vacationing American doctor swept up in an assassination plot. It’ll help if you really like the robotic singing style of Doris Day, who belts out “Que Sera, Sera” multiple times.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

49
Stage Fright
Movies

Stage Fright (1950)

Jane Wyman (at the time freshly divorced from Ronald Reagan) and Richard Todd play a game of “Who’s the Killer?” in one of Hitchcock’s less rapturously received efforts. Stay awake long enough for the campy turn by Marlene Dietrich as Wyman’s thespian rival, a character who says things like “Why do women marry abominable men?”—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
48
Saboteur
Movies, Thriller

Saboteur (1942)

Hitch’s location-hopping adventure plays like a dry run for North by Northwest, though it’s certainly worth seeing on its own terms. An arson suspect (Robert Cummings) working at an aircraft factory speeds across country to stop the real culprit, a man who’s about to set fire to another factory while the war rages at its hottest.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

47
Juno and the Paycock
Movies, Drama

Juno and the Paycock (1929)

Along with Dial M for Murder, this is Hitchcock’s stagiest picture; not coincidentally, it’s also one of his weakest, despite strong performances from Sarah Allgood and Maire O’Neill. A working-class Dublin family inherits a fortune and comes close to losing its soul. What’s a paycock? He’s the Master of Suspense, so let’s leave a little.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
46
Waltzes from Vienna
Movies

Waltzes from Vienna (1933)

One of Hitchcock’s most obscure films, this fictionalized tale about Johann Strauss’s son is also among his lesser efforts. (“Things were not going too well for you at this time,” François Truffaut suggests tactfully in his book-length interview with the director.) Let’s thank the cinema gods that this director moved away from musicals.—Joshua Rothkopf

Buy on Amazon

45
Number Seventeen
Movies, Comedy

Number Seventeen (1932)

Hitch himself wrote this thriller about a homeless man who stumbles upon a criminal hideout. It might have been exasperating at a feature’s usual length, but at roughly an hour, it doesn’t quite wear out its welcome. The director himself called it a disaster and he’s being way too self-excoriating. Still, better films were to come.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
44
Rich and Strange
Movies

Rich and Strange (1931)

A bored married couple travels around the world, with both partners instigating extramarital affairs along the way. It’s pleasantly perverse, but somehow never quite gels. Still, it’s a fascinating keyhole into a central Hitchcockian idea, the notion that the weirdest behavior comes not from criminals, but our friends and neighbors.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

43
Young and Innocent
Movies, Thriller

Young and Innocent (1937)

It’s sort of a rehash of The 39 Steps, and not remotely in the same league, but this tale of mistaken identity possesses a certain charm all the same. Ask yourself if the following sounds familiar: An innocent man is framed for murder. He flees in search of the real killer, in the company of a scrappy dame who becomes more than an asset.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
42
The Skin Game
Movies, Drama

The Skin Game (1931)

Hitch more or less disowned this adaptation of John Galsworthy’s play about a rivalry between neighbors. Smart move, that, because it’s dull as dirt. Motion pictures were still adapting to the new tools of sound recording, which had bulky cameras and microphones weaving around actors who were still overemoting for silents.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

41
Murder
Movies, Thriller

Murder! (1930)

Is this not the most Hitchcockian title of all time? Even the exclamation point adds a certain parlor-game fustiness. It’s a pity that the movie’s only so-so. Herbert Marshall stars as a juror convinced of the defendant’s innocence. A shorter German-language version, called Mary, was shot simultaneously.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Alfred Hitchcock movies: 40–31

40
Secret Agent
Movies, Drama

Secret Agent (1936)

Weirdness abounds in another Hitchcock juxtaposition of adventure and comedy, with John Gielgud and Madeleine Carroll as spies who pose as a married couple. Peter Lorre plays Gielgud’s foppish Mexican sidekick, and Robert Young is the bad guy. The film captures the romantic allure of alpine Switzerland.—Joshua Rothkopf

Buy on Amazon

39
Champagne
Movies

Champagne (1928)

Even early in his career, Hitchcock had a tin ear for laughs—it was never his strong suit. This silent comedy follows a libertine heiress, her jealous boyfriend and a disapproving dad, soon to be rendered penniless by the fickle stock market (or so he says). The director’s style is still evolving, but this is passably involving entertainment.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
38
I Confess
Movies, Thriller

I Confess (1953)

Montgomery Clift plays a priest who hears a confession of murder, then is himself accused of the crime. Clift’s Method acting doesn’t entirely jibe with the master’s highly choreographed direction, but it’s semigripping all the same. If you liked In Bruges and wanted to find another thriller set in a snoozy town (Quebec!), here it is.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

37
Torn Curtain
Movies, Thriller

Torn Curtain (1966)

A dagger slashes the screen several times during the trailer—an effect that’s more exciting than a good bit of this strangled East Berlin-set Cold War thriller about an American scientist (Paul Newman) seeking out antimissile secrets. Newman, a method actor, and Hitchcock never got along: “Your motivation is your salary,” the director reportedly told him.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
36
The Farmer's Wife
Movies, Comedy

The Farmer's Wife (1928)

The first out-and-out Hitchcock comedy concerns a widowed farmer in search of a bride, unaware that he’s loved by his housekeeper. It’s cute, stylish, forgettable stuff, but there’s a confidence here that suggests an alternate road the director might have taken, as an Alexander Payne–like purveyor of gentle social satire.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

35
Downhill
Movies

Downhill (1927)

It takes chutzpah to name one of your earliest films Downhill. The title refers to the unfortunate trajectory of one man’s life as he reels from a forbidding father and an irresponsible wife. Nicely shot, but there isn’t much else to recommend it. Suave star Ivor Novello goes a long way toward making it watchable.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
34
The Ring
Movies

The Ring (1927)

This silent movie was the then-28-year-old Hitchcock’s fourth film, and it’s the only original screenplay for which he’s solely credited (although he always worked closely with writers, including his wife Alma). An urban romance, the film offers up a muscular love rivalry between a fairground boxer and a professional fighter and culminates in a showdown bout at the Royal Albert Hall (although Hitch didn’t film any scenes there, preferring to use the pioneering “Schüfftan process” he employed for other early films).—Dave Calhoun

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

33
The Manxman
Movies, Drama

The Manxman (1929)

This Hitchcock silent, his final one, is a simple love triangle about two friends—one a fisherman, the other an attorney—in love with the same woman. In recent years, it’s been rediscovered and restored, resulting in a gush of somewhat unmerited re-evaluation. But there’s solid craft here and a hint of the obsessive director yet to come.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
32
The Paradine Case
Movies, Drama

The Paradine Case (1947)

Gregory Peck stars in this courtroom drama; it’s one of Hitch’s least visual films, largely because it’s so much talkier than his usual fare. Famously, Greta Garbo declined the role of the comely defendant, declaring as a personal creed: “No murderesses, no mamas.” The resulting film wasn’t a huge opportunity missed.—Joshua Rothkopf

Buy on Amazon

31
Easy Virtue
Movies

Easy Virtue (1928)

The director did a major overhaul on Noel Coward’s play, mostly inventing the early parts of the film, which tells of a woman trying to hide her role in a notorious divorce case. A trademark special effect comes early on when we see the courtroom from the point of view of the judge’s foggy monocle.—Dave Calhoun

Buy on Amazon

Alfred Hitchcock movies: 30–21

30
Jamaica Inn
Movies, Action and adventure

Jamaica Inn (1939)

The first (and very much the least) of Hitchcock’s three Daphne du Maurier adaptations, this one plays havoc with her atmospheric novel about a young coastal woman who discovers that her brutal bartender uncle heads a gang of shipwreckers. Charles Laughton is magnificently grotesque as the corrupt local squire, but he’s let down by an absurd script and surprisingly functional direction.—Tom Huddleston

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

29
Dial M for Murder
Movies, Drama

Dial M for Murder (1954)

Hitch’s claustrophobic shocker is usually remembered as the movie in which Grace Kelly’s outstretched hand reaches desperately toward the audience. It should be better known for its superb 3-D photography, which lends the rote plot (man hires assassin to kill his wife) an added kick it wouldn’t have otherwise.—Keith Uhlich

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
28
The Trouble with Harry
Movies, Drama

The Trouble With Harry (1955)

A couple of years before he became the Beaver, young Jerry Mathers costarred in this Vermont-set black comedy, shot on location during an idyllic autumn. Among the fall foliage (much of it reattached after an early cold snap), a dead body is found. Unusually for Hitchcock, the corpse is not his main concern; instead, he focuses on a pair of love stories.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

27
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Movies, Comedy

Mr & Mrs Smith (1941)

As a concept for screwball comedy, it wouldn’t work today: A not-quite-happily-married couple discover that their union isn’t legal. What next? Should the New York lawyer (Robert Montgomery) and his wife (Carole Lombard) stay together? This farce is Hitchcock’s only out-and-out American comedy and Hitch himself didn’t like it. Still, there are enough laughs, generated from the whip-smart script.—Cath Clarke

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
26
To Catch a Thief
Movies, Comedy

To Catch a Thief (1955)

Welcome to the good stuff: High-toned silliness of an exquisite caliber, Hitchcock’s French Riviera romantic mystery is a key part of his filmography. Ladling on the suavity, Cary Grant plays a retired cat burglar searching for the at-large criminal who’s making him look bad. But it’s glamorous Grace Kelly—peeling around those high corners—who steals the movie.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

25
Spellbound
Movies, Documentary

Spellbound (1945)

Ingrid Bergman plays a psychoanalyst who falls in love with her amnesiac boss (Gregory Peck) in Hitchcock’s twisty thriller, famous for its dream sequence created by Salvador Dalí (cut to two minutes from a generous 20 by producer David O. Selznick). This might not rank as first-rate Hitchcock, but it does have a knock-out tagline: “Will he kiss me…or kill me?”—Cath Clarke

Advertising
24
The Man Who Knew Too Much 1934
Movies, Thriller

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

The first Hitch film to bear the title is far superior to the loose 1956 remake. A jolly, stiff-upper-lipped tale of skiing holidays, sharpshooting competitions and suburban sun-worshipping cults, it benefits greatly from an unsettling performance by Peter Lorre (learning his lines phonetically because he couldn’t speak a word of English) and a climactic shootout inspired by the infamous Siege of Sidney Street.—Tom Huddleston

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

23
Blackmail
Movies

Blackmail (1929)

Hitchcock’s first sound film and one of the first made in England, Blackmail tells the plot of a couple who are held to ransom by a petty criminal when they try to cover up the death of an attempted rapist. The film’s most striking sequence involves a chase across the roof of London’s British Museum. The film is also notable for featuring Hitchcock’s first extended and clear cameo: He upstages the two leads during a scene in a train.—Dave Calhoun

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
22
Foreign Correspondent
Movies, Thriller

Foreign Correspondent (1940)

Dependably, Hitchcock is crafting the sequences that would make him immortal: There’s a visually arresting public assassination on some rainy steps dotted with black umbrellas, as well as an ocean air crash filmed from the cockpit (a shot that had audiences gasping). Set on the eve of WWII, this thriller has since been tarred as propaganda, but it works explosively.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

21
The Wrong Man
Movies, Thriller

The Wrong Man (1956)

One of the master’s bleakest films, this ripped-from-the-headlines thriller follows the plight of a down-and-out musician (Henry Fonda) wrongly accused of robbery. The resulting media circus wreaks havoc on the man and his depressive wife (Vera Miles); rarely did a Hitchcock movie embrace futility so deeply.—Keith Uhlich

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Alfred Hitchcock movies: 20–11

20
The Pleasure Garden
Movies

The Pleasure Garden (1925)

Shot in Italy and Germany in 1925 (though mainly set in London) and telling of the romantic escapades of two young chorus girls, Hitchcock’s first film as director was released in 1927 after The Lodger became a big hit. In hindsight, many of Hitchcock’s directing tics are here: He even inserted his hand-written signature in the opening credits, a sign of just how centrally he saw his role (when many directors didn’t).—Dave Calhoun

Buy on Amazon

19
Suspicion
Movies, Drama

Suspicion (1941)

This cynical, antiromantic tale of a woman (Joan Fontaine) who suspects her new husband is trying to kill her almost destroyed Hitchcock’s relationship with American studio RKO, when they demanded that the ending be changed to protect star Cary Grant’s spotless image. The result is somehow even more perverse: Instead of a murderer, Grant’s character is now just a deeply unlikable creep.—Tom Huddleston

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
18
Rope
Movies, Drama

Rope (1948)

Radical for its day, this 80-minute thriller unspools in real time and was composed out of extremely long takes (and several carefully concealed dissolves). Don’t call it a gimmick: Hitchcock completely serves Patrick Hamilton’s stage play, based on the sensational Leopold and Loeb case, upping the tension as the snobby murderers’ housemaster (James Stewart) literally circles the truth.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

17
Under Capricorn
Movies

Under Capricorn (1949)

A favorite of the French New Wave directors, Hitch’s lush psychological thriller takes place in the Australian mansion of a businessman whose wife (Ingrid Bergman) is going insane. Shot by the great Jack Cardiff in lengthy single takes like the previous year’s Rope, the film’s highlight is Bergman’s nearly-ten-minute confessional monologue—a triumph of photography and performance.—Keith Uhlich

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
16
Sabotage
Movies, Thriller

Sabotage (1936)

A scene involving an oblivious young boy carrying a ticking bomb through busy London is the high point of this energetic thriller about a cinema-owning insurrectionist. An adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent (confusingly, also the name of another Hitchcock film), it makes an everyday bus ride the focus of horror.—Dave Calhoun

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

15
The Lodger
Movies, Thriller

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)

The director himself called this one the “first true Hitchcock film.” In it, we see the origins of ideas that run through his later films, not least a wrongly accused man on the run. Subtitled A Story of the London Fog, the silent features a serial killer targeting young blondes, with Ivor Novello playing a man suspected by his landlords.—Cath Clarke

Buy on Amazon

Advertising
14
Lifeboat
Movies, Drama

Lifeboat (1944)

Going to need a bigger boat? Not if you’re the Master of Suspense: Hitch sets the entirety of this nail-biting drama—from a scenario developed by John Steinbeck—on an emergency craft bobbing on the North Atlantic after two warring ships sink. Dignity gets strained by squabbles over food, water, nationality (a German POW comes aboard) and even leg amputation.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

13
Frenzy
Movies, Thriller

Frenzy (1972)

Fitting squarely in a tradition of exploitative early-’70s British sleaze, Frenzy is Hitchcock’s grimiest film, but also one of his most unnervingly entertaining. Packed with fleapit pubs, blood-spattered meat markets, outrageous sideburns and not-so-casual misogyny, this is a fascinating time capsule of a mercifully long-gone London.—Tom Huddleston

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
12
Marnie
Movies, Thriller

Marnie (1964)

Critic Pauline Kael called it “Hitchcock scraping bottom.” Another reviewer, Robin Wood, declared: “If you don’t like Marnie, you don’t like Hitchcock.” Clearly, we’re closer to the latter. Tippi Hedren (in a role written for Grace Kelly) is a compulsive thief and Sean Connery is the man who blackmails her into marrying him. Perhaps there’s not all the psychological depth you want here, but this disturbing psychological thriller is underrated.—Cath Clarke

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

11
Rebecca
Movies, Thriller

Rebecca (1940)

Hitch’s first Hollywood movie is a terrific Gothic melodrama, one of three adaptations he directed of stories by Daphne du Maurier. Laurence Olivier is a super wealthy widower living in Manderley, the family pile in rural Cornwall. Joan Fontaine is his second, much younger wife, existing in the shadow of his first wife, Rebecca. Darkly funny and unbearably tense in places, it ends with the stunning sight of the mansion burning to the ground.—Cath Clarke

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Alfred Hitchcock movies: 10–1

10
830.otc.strangersonatrain
Movies, Drama

Strangers on a Train (1951)

How do you get away with murder? Bruno (Robert Walker)—a loco man on a locomotive—has an idea, which he pitches to too-trusting tennis pro, Guy (Farley Granger): I kill yours, you kill mine. Guy then finds himself caught in one of the most tense webs Hitch ever weaved, climaxing in a memorable setpiece on a spinning carousel.—Keith Uhlich

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

9
migrate.41015.jpg
Movies, Thriller

Rear Window (1954)

One of Hitchcock’s unassailable masterpieces, this is a movie that turns its viewers into Peeping Toms, a perverse strategy for a mainstream filmmaker at his peak. A recuperating photographer (James Stewart) and his fashionista girlfriend (Grace Kelly) spy on a Greenwich Village courtyard and smell trouble. Of course, they’re right, as was the director’s hunch: We like to watch.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
8
Movies, Thriller

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Interpreted by many as a riff on engagement and appeasement in the run-up to WWII, this train-set comedy-thriller saw Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood pair up to hunt for a little old lady who goes missing on a rail trip through Central Europe. The rest of the train’s colorful cast of characters are adamant the woman never existed in the first place. Delightful, but with an undertone of menace.—Dave Calhoun

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

7
Movies, Thriller

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Hitchcock’s favorite among his own movies was this relentless, slow-creeping suburban nightmare, one of only a handful of classic Hollywood pictures to deal (however obliquely) with ideas of exploitation and sexual abuse within the family. Teresa Wright is the perky bobby-soxer who discovers that her beloved Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) might be the sadistic Merry Widow Murderer.—Tom Huddleston

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
6
The 100 best horror films, horror movies, the birds
Movies, Horror

The Birds (1963)

Hitchcock made two horror movies: Psycho in 1960 and this loose adaptation of an apocalyptic Daphne du Maurier novella starring Tippi Hedren. There are moments of pure, bone-chilling terror here as a mob of seagulls divebomb Bodega Bay. But the scariest image is a shot of crows gathered menacingly on a telephone wire—filmmaking at its simplest and most suggestive.—Cath Clarke

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

5
675.x600.film.39steps.jpg
Movies, Thriller

The 39 Steps (1935)

Arguably the best of Hitchcock’s early British films—he was only 35 when he directed it—this is the movie in which we first spot a slew of Hitchisms. There’s a wrongly accused man (Robert Donat) trying to stop a spy ring from stealing British military secrets. And we catch a glimpse of an icy Hitchcock blond.—Cath Clarke

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
4
North.jpg
Movies, Thriller

North by Northwest (1959)

With the Cold War as an ideal backdrop, Hitchcock now perfected the wronged-man-on-the run plotline he’d previously wrangled for The Lady Vanishes and The 39 Steps. Cary Grant plays a New York advertising exec mistaken by some rough types for someone else and believed by no one (worst of all, not even his mom). Mount Rushmore and other striking locations take costarring roles. A whirlwind of paranoia.—Dave Calhoun

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

3
The 100 best horror films, horror movies, psycho
Movies, Horror

Psycho (1960)

None of Hitchcock’s films are as shocking as this one: a bold, ruinous thriller that upends conventions and reprograms its viewers. Psycho is the birth of the slasher film—its shower scene alone is a crystallized essence of the director’s mastery. And if that’s not endorsement enough, there’s Bernard Herrmann’s most iconic score, a shrieking piece of genius.—Joshua Rothkopf

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising
2
21notorious
Movies, Thriller

Notorious (1946)

For those not hooked on the necrophilic glamour of a certain film still to come in our list, this glittering, dread-filled South American psychodrama is Hitchcock’s most sensuous outing. As ever, the passion is tangled up with cruelty, exploitation and self loathing. Ingrid Bergman plays a German heiress who is blackmailed and pimped out by Cary Grant’s sleazy government hack—who she promptly falls madly in love with.—Tom Huddleston

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

1
Stewart_&_Novak_02_cmyk.jpg
Movies, Thriller

Vertigo (1958)

Hitchcock’s artistry reached its apex with his San Francisco–set tale of an acrophobic investigator (James Stewart) who falls hard for the mysterious blond (Kim Novak) he’s been hired to tail. Sexual obsession, shifting identities and, of course, a pesky fear of heights all play a part in this hallucinatory masterpiece.—Keith Uhlich

Watch on Amazon Instant Video

Advertising