Alfred Hitchcock’s influence on cinema cannot be denied. His films live on and hold up well, despite the fact Hitchcock himself passed away in 1980, and his final film was released in 1976. Many of his best works don’t feel like they live in the past, or merely feel like products of it. The best of his works still feel alive, exciting, and vital, and that’s a reason other filmmakers have always been influenced by him, whether it was back when he was alive and making movies, or in the years since 1980.

As a director, Hitchcock made numerous movies in both the British and American film industries, starting with silent films in the 1920s, and continuing to direct into the 1970s. In total, he made about 60 films, and since the majority of those are worth watching, a ranking of just 25 proves to be challenging, as there are naturally some omissions. However, for those unfamiliar with Hitchcock, or maybe only aware of his biggest hits, the following are all worth exploring, and collectively deliver hours of suspense, dark comedy, thrills, and intense psychological drama.



25 ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ (1934)

1934's The Man Who Knew Too Much

Interestingly, The Man Who Knew Too Much is a rare film that got remade by its own director. Hitchcock was behind both the 1934 version and the more well-known 1956 version, with both following the same core premise of a married couple dealing with their daughter getting kidnapped after they accidentally learn about an upcoming assassination attempt.

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As far as Hitchcock’s earlier, pre-Hollywood movies go, The Man Who Knew Too Much is up there as one that most reflects where his career would go during the 1950s and 60s; arguably his “golden” era. For that reason, it’s valuable, and even if the 1956 version is more polished, the 1934 version deserves recognition for doing it first.

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

Lodger - 1927

Many of Alfred Hitchcock’s earliest movies are fascinating to view from a historical perspective – especially for his diehard fans – but don’t always hold up so well when it comes to entertainment value. In that way, The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog stands out, because it holds up well for a silent movie.

It revolves around a serial killer terrorizing London, and a landlady suspecting her new lodger of being the killer, due to his strange behavior and resemblance to how the suspect allegedly appears. It’s solidly done for a movie of its time, moves pretty well throughout its brisk runtime, and benefits from some neat, atmospheric visuals throughout.

23 ‘The Trouble with Harry’ (1955)

The Trouble With Harry - 1955

Hitchcock was no stranger to putting comedic moments in the majority of his movies (even if it was often very dark humor), but it was less common to see him make an outright comedy. That makes The Trouble with Harry stand out, as it’s likely his best-known movie that’s frequently light-hearted enough to easily fit into the comedy genre.

The premise, however, sounds surprisingly dark, as it’s about how a town reacts to a mysterious death, where no one’s quite sure what the cause was, and a few different people may be suspects. Yet it plays this narrative for laughs more than drama, and ends up being a fairly entertaining Hitchcock movie, and also proves memorable for being Shirley MacLaine’s feature debut.

22 ‘The Wrong Man’ (1956)

Henry Fonda and Vera Miles in The Wrong Man (1956)
Image via Warner Bros.

There are many movies in Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography that could be called “The Wrong Man,” as 1956’s The Wrong Man is far from the only Hitchcock movie to center around a protagonist getting wrongly accused of something. It’s a trope he helped popularize, and as such, has influenced other directors of crime and thriller movies.

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The Wrong Man is not Hitchcock’s best “wrongly accused man” film, but it is a pretty good one. It benefits a good deal from having the great Henry Fonda in the titular role, and viewers who like to find cameos (beyond Hitchcock’s) might want to look out for future stars Harry Dean Stanton and Tuesday Weld surprisingly appearing in uncredited roles.

21 ‘Marnie’ (1964)

Marnie and Mark in a car together in Marnie.

The spectre of James Bond hangs over much of Sean Connery’s filmography, but the legendary actor was in plenty of memorable movies that didn’t involve 007. One of those was 1964’s Marnie, which he starred in with Tippi Hedren, who had just worked with Hitchcock the previous year on a movie about animals fighting back against humans (more on that one later).

The two play individuals who end up having a very strange and twisted dynamic, after Connery’s character blackmails Hedren’s, who’s a compulsive thief. It’s got some uncomfortable content, but it is well-made and well-acted, and a very faint silver lining may be that most of the film’s most disturbing aspects are implied, rather than shown explicitly on screen… though the story and themes remain undeniably dark.

20 ‘Spellbound’ (1945)

Spellbound - 1945

There were a number of Hitchcock thrillers released in the 1940s that all have black-and-white visuals and one-word titles. As such, they can be a little easy to get mixed up and/or overlooked. But fans owe it to themselves to be diligent and familiarize themselves with Hitchcock’s first decade in Hollywood, because he released some true gems in the 40s.

Spellbound is one of those, and stands as a little underrated, all things considered. It’s a twisty and suspenseful romance/thriller movie that focuses on one character helping another with his amnesia, and features two of Classic Hollywood’s biggest stars in the lead roles: Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck.

19 ‘To Catch a Thief’ (1955)

Image via Paramount Pictures

To Catch a Thief features two actors (Cary Grant and Grace Kelly) better known for more famous Hitchcock movies, though this 1955 one is still good. It’s a slightly more light-hearted crime/thriller than Hitchcock usually did, with a plot about an ex-burglar trying to track down a copycat, seeing as he doesn’t want to be arrested for these new crimes.

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It provides decent entertainment and charismatic lead performances, but the most eye-catching part about To Catch a Thief is its visuals. It’s set on the French Riviera, and is all beautifully captured by cinematographer Robert Burks, who won an Academy Award for his work on this film.

18 ‘Frenzy’ (1972)

Frenzy - 1972

Though it was one of his final movies, Frenzy ultimately proved that even after turning 70, Alfred Hitchcock hadn’t lost his edge. It’s easily one of his most disturbing movies, if not his most disturbing, and follows a man getting falsely accused of committing a series of grisly murders: all strangulations committed with a necktie.

If anything, the dark comedy of Frenzy just works to make the whole thing feel even more twisted, and as Hitchcock wasn’t dealing with any censorship (like he had in America with the Hays Code), he was able to make Frenzy surprisingly graphic. It might not shock modern-day viewers as much as audiences in 1972, but it’s easy to imagine viewers over half a century ago being very alarmed while witnessing what this movie shows.

17 ‘Saboteur’ (1942)

Saboteur - 1942

Another day, another Alfred Hitchcock movie with a main character getting falsely accused. Here, in 1942’s Saboteur, the unlucky protagonist is an aircraft factory worker, and he’s forced to go on the run after he’s blamed for causing a large fire that also killed his closest friend.

As is usually the case, it becomes about more than just running away from accusers, as the man who’s been blamed also sets out to prove his innocence along the way. It’s a formula Hitchcock arguably hadn’t quite perfected until the 1950s, but here in 1942, he still does it very well, and it can be seen as a trial run for later films, particularly North by Northwest.

16 ‘Foreign Correspondent’ (1940)

Foreign Correspondent - 1940

Foreign Correspondent was one of the first American movies Alfred Hitchcock directed, though it being set in Europe gives it the feeling of bridging the gap between Hitchcock’s pre-Hollywood career and his Hollywood one. Its story revolves around the start of World War Two, with a story about an American journalist trying to expose enemy spies.

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WW2-related movies made while the war was ongoing are always interesting to watch from a historical perspective. However, Foreign Correspondent thankfully isn’t just for history buffs, as it’s also got an entertaining story and an engaging blend of mystery, thrills, and action within its war-centered story.

15 ‘Sabotage’ (1936)

Sabotage - 1936

Not to be mixed up with 1942’s Saboteur, 1936’s Sabotage is a fairly different film, and one of the best that Hitchcock made before going to Hollywood. It focuses on a married couple who find their marriage tested after the wife discovers that her husband may be involved in a potentially deadly (and explosive) terrorist plot.

It’s very hard to discuss what makes Sabotage memorable without ruining its most iconic scene. And yes, it is 87 years old, so spoiler warnings likely don’t apply anymore, but the film contains a genuinely surprising sequence that shouldn’t be given away (and also one that Hitchcock himself surprisingly regretted), especially since it still packs a punch after all these years.

14 ‘Lifeboat’ (1944)

Lifeboat - 1944

There’s always something thrilling about movies with limited locations, and within this sub-genre of thrillers, Lifeboat stands out. Befitting its title, it’s a movie that takes place primarily on a lifeboat, with a group of survivors forced to stay on one for an extended period after their ship is attacked by a German U-boat.

The movie is remarkably simple, because it really does become a survival story with a very limited space in which its characters are trying to survive. This might limit the film in the hands of a lesser director, but Hitchcock is able to get a great deal of suspense and thrills out of it, making Lifeboat a surprisingly entertaining movie from start to finish.

13 ‘The Lady Vanishes’ (1938)

The Lady Vanishes - 1938

Naturally, Alfred Hitchcock’s American movies tend to get a little more recognition than his British films. They had larger budgets, bigger stars, and also were released in the second half of Hitchcock’s overall filming career, meaning many of them are examples of what he could do – as a director – at the height of his powers.

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Yet there are of course acclaimed non-Hollywood Hitchcock pictures, and 1938’s The Lady Vanishes – one of his last non-Hollywood efforts – is rightly regarded as a classic. It has an intriguing premise involving a young woman investigating the strange disappearance of an older woman while on a train, and as a later 1951 film will clearly demonstrate, this was not the last time Hitchcock made a great movie involving characters on trains.

12 ‘Dial M for Murder’ (1954)

Margot, played by Grace Kelly, talking on the phone while Charles Swann, played by Anthony Dawson, stands behind her holding a scarf getting ready to strangle her in 'Dial M for Murder.' 
Image via Warner Bros.

There were two very good Alfred Hitchcock thrillers starring Grace Kelly released in 1954, with Dial M for Murder inevitably placing second. That being said, it’s still an incredibly compelling film, following a man who attempts to have his wife murdered, only to change his plans when the initial murder attempt is unsuccessful.

It’s a very straightforward thriller, but Hitchcock injects it with so much style, class, and suspense that any trepidations about its simplicity fall by the wayside. It’s a great example of how to execute a clean and efficient suspenseful movie, and even if it’s just a hair away from ranking as one of the director’s very best movies, it’s still overall incredibly well-made.

11 ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ (1943)

Shadow of a Doubt - 1943

Shadow of a Doubt was the movie that Hitchcock viewed most favorably out of all the movies he directed. Make no mistake; it’s a very good film, but it’s the kind of pick as “the best Hitchcock film” that not many people would select… besides the man himself, it seems.

The plot centers on a family who welcomes a long-lost uncle to their home in a small town, only for one of the family members to become suspicious about the man, and believe he’s not who he says he is. It’s a slow-burn thriller about identity and family that moves well and is engaging throughout, and though not everyone will agree with Hitchcock that it’s his very best, it’s still more than worthy of watching in any event.

10 ‘Rebecca’ (1940)

Laurence Olivier looking at Joan Fontaine in Rebecca (1940) (1)
United Artists

Out of the dozens upon dozens of movies Alfred Hitchcock directed, only one ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Picture: Rebecca (1940). It was his very first American-produced movie, too, and follows a woman who marries a man who seems to be unusually devoted to his ex-wife – the titular Rebecca – whose death occurred several years earlier under mysterious circumstances.

RELATED: The Most Romantic Alfred Hitchcock Movies, Ranked

It’s the kind of premise Hitchcock excelled at directing, and while his only Best Picture-winning movie might not equal his genuine best, it’s still an incredibly well-made movie. Few films that are more than 80 years old hold up quite as well as this, making it required viewing for all film buffs; not just the ones who are particularly into Hitchcock.

9 ‘The Birds’ (1963)


The Birds tells you exactly what it’s all about with its very direct title. It’s about a bunch of vicious birds. They terrorize a small town for reasons unknown to the people who live there (it’s scarier that way, after all). The main characters then find themselves fighting for their lives while trying to escape.

Some viewers may find the special effects used for the bird attack scenes to be a little unrealistic, but at the same time, the movie is now 60 years old, so it ought to be cut at least a little slack. And in the end, there are still some strikingly effective sequences that ensure The Birds is a classic, and its lack of a traditional music score also makes it a surprisingly eerie and effective watch.

8 ‘The 39 Steps’ (1935)

The 39 Steps - 1935

Beyond a shadow of a doubt (not literally, as that movie came out eight years after 1935), The 39 Steps is the best of all the non-Hollywood Alfred Hitchcock movies. It represented the director’s first instance of milking a “wronged man” narrative as effectively as possible, following a man forced to go on the run after discovering a surprisingly complex conspiracy.

For such an old movie, The 39 Steps is remarkably well-paced, and if it wasn’t in black-and-white, it would likely feel credibly like a movie from the 1950s or 1960s. It combines adventure, thrills, romance, and comedy all into one neat package, and moves well thanks to its runtime being under 90 minutes. For anyone wondering what Hitchcock’s first crowd-pleasing proto-blockbuster was, they need not look any further than this 1935 gem.

7 ‘Notorious’ (1946)

Image via RKO Radio Pictures

After working with Ingrid Bergman in 1945’s Spellbound, Hitchcock re-teamed with her the following year for Notorious. It also saw him working with Cary Grant for the first time, and if those two stars weren’t enough, the great Claude Rains was third-billed, and ended up getting an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in the film.

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It’s certainly up there with the best movies Hitchcock directed in the 1940s, and has a plot that involves hunting down Nazis in hiding a year after the end of World War Two. It features three great performances, an engaging plot, and typically compelling visuals from Hitchcock and the others working behind the camera, with it all adding up to an exceptionally entertaining old-school Hollywood movie.

6 ‘Strangers on a Train’ (1951)

Robert Walker and Farley Granger sitting next to each other talking in Strangers on a Train
Warner Bros.

The 1950s was an amazing decade in Alfred Hitchcock’s career, and 1951’s Strangers on a Train helped start it off with a bang. It’s a movie following two people who meet on a train (to no one’s surprise, they are strangers), with one proposing to the other that they both commit a murder for each other, to make the crime less traceable.

Given this is a Hitchcock movie, things naturally don’t go to plan, and seeing the consequences of this unusual scheme play out proves to be stomach-churning and morbidly entertaining. It’s the kind of dark thrill ride Hitchcock had more or less perfected by this stage in his career, ensuring that Strangers on a Train is a joy to watch play out.

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