If there’s a thriller out there more exhilarating, sexier or packed with iconic moments than this one, we’ve yet to see it. The greatest joy in Alfred Hitchcock’s spy caper is how effortless it all feels: a gliding magic-carpet ride from New York to Mount Rushmore, via Chicago and a Midwestern bus stop, as Cary Grant’s ad man suffers a potentially fatal outbreak of Wrong Man-itis. Of course, making a movie this effortless is hard work. It’s all a tribute to Hitch and his ensemble of behind-the-camera talents, including screenwriter Ernest Lehman, Saul Bass (designer of the graphically arresting title sequence) and Bernard Herrmann, whose score lends menace and levity in equal measure. And the cast? Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Martin Landau and Jessie Royce Landis—heroes, villains and worried mothers, they’re all having a ball. But it’s Grant’s movie: a Hollywood A-lister happy to be the punchline when the scene calls for it.—Phil de Semlyen
The killer moment: It has to be the crop-duster sequence, which begins like a Western standoff and ends with the suavest man in cinema face down in the dirt.