10 Best Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Movies


  • Alfred Hitchcock was known as the Master and Suspense for the brilliant way he weaved insightful mysteries.
  • The greatest Hitchcock mysteries included movies he made in Britian and America.
  • Hitchcock’s best mysteries included his acclaimed collaborations with actors like Cary Grant, James Stewart, and Grace Kelly.

Director Alfred Hitchcock was responsible for some of the greatest mystery movies ever made, as his skill for creating tension, portraying intricate plots, and developing complex characters made him the undisputed Master of Suspense. From slow-moving stories of lies and deceit to over-the-top action adventures categorized by mistaken identity and espionage, Hitchcock laid the groundwork for much of the modern movie landscape concerning mysteries and thrillers. With a filmmaking career that spanned over 50 years, Hitchcock kept audiences on the edge of their seats as he delivered one iconic mystery after another.

From acclaimed collaborations with actors like James Stewart and Carry Grant, Hitchcock’s greatest mysteries went deeper than simple narrative intrigue, as they often acted as insightful character studies and investigations into the darkest recesses of human nature. With impeccable attention to detail and the expert use of camera movements, music, and strong visual storytelling, one of the greatest compliments a contemporary mystery movie could receive was that it’s Hitchcockian in style. The best Hitchcock mysteries have maintained their power over the decades and have remained some of cinema’s greatest stories.

10 Suspicion (1941)

Mystery: What are Johnnie’s intentions?

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A shy young heiress marries a charming gentleman, and soon begins to suspect he is planning to murder her.

Director Alfred Hitchcock Release Date November 14, 1941 Writers Samson Raphaelson , Joan Harrison , Alma Reville , Anthony Berkeley Cast Cary Grant , Joan Fontaine , Cedric Hardwicke , Nigel Bruce , May Whitty , Isabel Jeans , Heather Angel , Auriol Lee Runtime 99 Minutes Main Genre Film Noir Expand

Although Cary Grant was known as a charismatic Hollywood leading man, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion, he confounded these expectations by playing the morally dubious playboy Johnnie Aysgarth. The mystery at the heart of Suspicion was psychological, as audiences slowly learned that Johnnie was a penniless gambler prone to extreme dishonesty. While he has seemingly conned his way into marriage with the beautiful Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine), questions quickly arise about just how deceitful Johnnie could be.

This dark and exploitative film had all the tenants of a classic Hitchcock suspense story, as the mystery of Suspicion related to whether Johnnie intended to murder his new wife and live off her riches. Suspicion was Hitchcock on top directorial form; however, its abrupt ending and almost heroic portrayal of Johnnie stopped it from reaching the heights of Hitchcock’s very best mysteries. With a slow and unnerving atmosphere throughout, Suspicion, showcased why Hitchcock and Grant together, made for such a winning combination.

9 To Catch A Thief (1955)

Mystery: Who is the real burglar?

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Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief is a romantic mystery-thriller film released in 1956, based on the novel by David Dodge. A former jewel thief finds his legacy tarnished when an imposter dons his name and begins stealing from tourists – forcing him to come out of the shadows and clear his name.

Director Alfred Hitchcock Release Date August 3, 1955 Studio(s) Paramount Pictures Distributor(s) Paramount Pictures Writers John Michael Hayes Cast Cary Grant , Grace Kelly , Jessie Royce Landis , John Williams Runtime 106 Minutes Budget $2.5 Million Main Genre Thriller Expand

The final of four collaborations between Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant also included the iconic starlet Grace Kelly in a story of deceit, thievery, and mystery. To Catch a Thief was a romantic thriller featuring Grant as the retired cat burglar John Robie, who must save his reputation when a copycat thief emerged and he found himself a prime suspect. As the mystery of the true thief’s identity slowly unveiled itself, To Catch a Thief proved why Hickcock was dubbed the Master of Suspense.

With many twists and turns throughout, part of the power of To Catch a Thief was in how, just when viewers thought they figured things out, something new would throw a spanner in the works. A far more slowly moving film than previous Hitchcock thrillers like Rear Window, for patient viewers, there was a lot to be savored and enjoyed here. While the mystery at the heart of the story was the main reason to get invested, audiences soon found themselves wanting to stay for the love story between Grant and Kelly’s characters.

8 The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Mystery: What happened to the old lady on the train?

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Trapped by an avalanche, Iris befriends Miss Froy on a train to England. But when Miss Froy vanishes and fellow passengers deny her existence, Iris investigates with a fellow traveler, sparking romance amid mystery.

Director Alfred Hitchcock Release Date October 7, 1938 Cast Margaret Lockwood , Michael Redgrave , Paul Lukas , Dame May Whitty Runtime 97 Minutes

While Alfred Hitchcock’s Hollywood mysteries have dominated the conversation around this acclaimed director, some of his best work came from his earlier British period. One of the best examples of an earlier Hitchcock mystery was The Lady Vanishes about a young passenger who noticed her elderly traveling companion had gone missing from the train. With equal parts drama and farce, The Lady Vanishes showcased Hitchcock’s growing skill as a master of mystery.

As a truly sophisticated thriller that has remained powerfully entertaining, The Lady Vanishes was filled with intrigue and wit as the other passengers tried to convince Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) that there was never an old lady on board. However, a tale of lies and deceit began to emerge, and along with her fellow passenger Gilbert (Michael Redgrave), the two pushed for answers and got to the bottom of a thrilling conspiracy. The success of The Lady Vanishes in the United States was a major factor in Hitchcock’s move to Hollywood in the following years.

7 The 39 Steps (1935)

Mystery: Who are the 39 Steps?

Madeleine Carroll and Robert Donat in Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps

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The 39 Steps is a 1935 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It follows Richard Hannay, who becomes embroiled in a spy plot after a mysterious woman is murdered in his apartment. Fleeing to Scotland to clear his name, Hannay must evade both the police and a shadowy espionage ring while unraveling the secret of the “39 Steps”. Based on John Buchan’s novel, the film is a seminal work in Hitchcock’s oeuvre.

Director Alfred Hitchcock Release Date July 31, 1935 Writers John Buchan , Charles Bennett , Ian Hay Cast Robert Donat , Madeleine Carroll , Lucie Mannheim , Godfrey Tearle , Peggy Ashcroft , John Laurie , Helen Haye , Frank Cellier Character(s) Hannay , Pamela , Miss Smith , Professor Jordan , Crofter’s Wife , Crofter , Mrs. Jordan , The Sheriff Runtime 86 Minutes Main Genre Mystery Expand

The 39 Steps was a major movie in Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography and a defining moment in his transition from a very good filmmaker into one of the greatest who ever lived. As a thriller with a mysterious organization known as “The 39 Steps” at the center of its story, The 39 Steps took audiences on a journey of deep intrigue, mistaken identity, and counter-intelligence. With the classic Hitchcock theme of an innocent man forced to go on the run, Robert Donat gave an exceptional performance as Richard Hannay, the man unwittingly caught in the middle of a conspiracy.

The 39 Steps has been described as an important release not just in Hitchcock’s career but for cinema in general, as the acclaimed Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towe stated, “It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that all contemporary escapist entertainment begins with The 39 Steps” (via The New Yorker.) With equal parts wit and suspense, The 39 Steps was the greatest of all Hitcock’s British sound films. Packed with twists and turns, The 39 Steps laid the groundwork for the best of Hickcock’s future mysteries and thrillers.

6 Shadow Of A Doubt (1943)

Mystery: What’s Uncle Charlie’s true nature?

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A teenage girl, overjoyed when her favorite uncle comes to visit the family in their quiet California town, slowly begins to suspect that he is in fact the “Merry Widow” killer sought by the authorities.

Director Alfred Hitchcock Release Date January 15, 1943 Writers Thornton Wilder , Sally Benson , Alma Reville , Gordon McDonell Cast Teresa Wright , Joseph Cotten , Macdonald Carey , Henry Travers , Patricia Collinge , Hume Cronyn , Wallace Ford , Edna May Wonacott Runtime 108 Minutes Main Genre Thriller Expand

A sinister force entered an idyllic small town in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt. As the bright and innocent teenage girl Charlie Newton burst with excitement at the prospect of her Uncle Charlie coming to stay, these positive feelings soon made way for apprehension and nervousness when her uncle appeared to hold a dark secret. With slow-building suspense, the true nature of Uncle Charlie’s wicked ways soon came to the forefront as his exciting arrival quickly gained the interest of detectives who believed he could be the notorious Merry Widow killer.

Shadow of a Doubt was signaled by Hitchcock himself as his favorite film that he made (via The Telegraph.) Hitchcock’s daughter Pat stated that her father “loved the thought of putting menace into a small town,” and Uncle Charlie’s tense visit hinted at the dark underbelly hiding beneath America’s peaceful and picturesque suburban landscapes. Shadow of a Doubt has remained acclaimed to this day and has earned its place among Hitchcock’s best movies.

5 Rebecca (1940)

Mystery: How did Rebecca die?

Rebecca looks startled while talking to her husband from Rebecca 1940

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A self-conscious woman juggles adjusting to her new role as an aristocrat’s wife and avoiding being intimidated by his first wife’s spectral presence.

Director Alfred Hitchcock Release Date April 12, 1940 Writers Daphne Du Maurier , Robert E. Sherwood , Joan Harrison , Philip MacDonald , Michael Hogan Cast Laurence Olivier , Joan Fontaine , George Sanders , Judith Anderson , Nigel Bruce , Reginald Denny , C. Aubrey Smith , Gladys Cooper Character(s) Maxim de Winter , Mrs. de Winter , Jack Favell , Mrs. Danvers , Major Giles Lacy , Frank Crawley , Colonel Julyan , Beatrice Lacy Runtime 130 Minutes Main Genre Mystery Expand

Rebecca was Alfred Hitchcock’s first American film and has remained among his greatest psychological thrillers that were imbued with a deep sense of mystery. Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine excelled as newlyweds, Maxim de Wint and the second Mrs. de Winter, whose marriage was plagued by the memory of Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca. As the circumstances of Rebecca’s mysterious death come into play, this tragic psychological story got to the very heart of humanity’s darkest impulses.

As one of Hitchcock’s most unnerving films, Rebecca was a serious artistic statement for a filmmaker just on the precipice of making it in America. Luckily, Hitchcock’s willingness to push boundaries was part of his appeal, and Rebecca won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Rebecca signaled the dawning of a brand new voice in Hollywood who would take the industry by storm with suspenseful thrillers, intriguing mysteries, and shocking horrors the likes of which contemporary audiences had never before seen.

4 North By Northwest (1959)

Mystery: Why are spies after Roger Thornhill?

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North By Northwest is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most popular films and was released in 1959. The film centers on Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant), an average advertising executive in New York who is hunted by foreign spies who think he is actually a secret agent. The film co-stars Eva Marie Saint, whose character Eve Kendall acts as a love interest to Roger.

Director Alfred Hitchcock Release Date September 8, 1959 Studio(s) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributor(s) Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Writers Ernest Lehman Cast Eva Marie Saint , James Mason , Cary Grant , Leo G. Carroll , Jessie Royce Landis Runtime 136 minutes Budget $4.3 million Expand

Alfred Hitchcock explored one of his most consistent themes in North by Northwest, which was that of an innocent man forced into extreme circumstances due to a mistaken identity. With Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill, this exciting thriller was full of mystery and intrigue as a secretive government organization pursued a man cross country as he found himself increasingly embroiled in a conspiracy of espionage. In North by Northwest, Hitchcock leaned into the over-the-top nature of its story as Thornhill faced an increasingly extreme pursuit.

From escaping burning vehicles to being hunted by a plane, North by Northwest featured Hitchcock’s most ridiculous scene, but this was part of its sensational charm. North by Northwest was a highly influential spy movie whose enduring legacy can be felt in everything from James Bond to the Kingsman franchise. A masterpiece of comedy, thrills, and self-parody of the genre itself, North by Northwest was a definitive spy movie that was an integral part of Hickcock’s impressive filmography.

3 Psycho (1960)

Mystery: Who killed Marion Crane?

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In this now-iconic Alfred Hitchcock thriller, a secretary embezzles forty thousand dollars from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel. The place is run by a young man under the domination of his mother — and he soon turns out to be far more threatening than he appeared at first.

Director Alfred Hitchcock Release Date September 8, 1960 Studio(s) Universal Pictures Distributor(s) Universal Pictures Writers Joseph Stefano Cast Janet Leigh , Martin Balsam , Anthony Perkins , John Gavin , Vera Miles Runtime 109 minutes Franchise(s) Psychonauts Sequel(s) Psycho 2 Budget $806 thousand Expand

So many aspects of Psycho have become entrenched in popular culture that it may be hard for modern audiences to separate its influence and legacy from the film itself. However, when viewed without any knowledge of Norman Bates’ status as one of horror’s most well-known serial killers, this was a story full of mystery, as the circumstances surrounding Marion Crane’s death left audiences on the edge of their seats. The slow-building suspense of Psycho worked so well because of the way Norman’s split personality and alter-ego were not revealed until Psycho’s twist ending.

Psycho was a highly influential film that played with audiences’ expectations when the apparent main character was killed off in the iconic shower scene early in the film. This was a development nobody saw coming, and Hitchcock even bought all the copies he could of Robert Bloch’s original novel to ensure viewers couldn’t figure out the ending before seeing his version (via Variety.) While the mystery at the heart of Psycho may be well-known today, this did not take away from the film’s enduring power and relevance more than six decades after its release.

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2 Rear Window (1954)

Mystery: Was there a murder across the street?

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Rear Window is a classic 1954 film from director Alfred Hitchcock. The movie centers on LB Jefferies (James Stewart), a photographer who claims he saw one of his neighbors commit murder after spying on them. The film was nominated for four Oscars and was also unsuccessfully remade as a TV movie in 1998 starring Christopher Reeves.

Director Alfred Hitchcock Release Date September 1, 1954 Studio(s) Paramount Pictures Distributor(s) Paramount Pictures Writers John Michael Hayes Cast Thelma Ritter , James Stewart , Wendell Corey , Grace Kelly , Raymond Burr Runtime 112 minutes Budget $1 million Expand

Rear Window was among the greatest mysteries ever committed to film as James Stewart played the wheelchair-bound photographer Jeff Jefferies (James Stewart), who became convinced a murder had been committed across the street. With a deep sense of voyeurism, the way Jeff became obsessed with analyzing the habits of his neighbors mimicked the same way that audiences took innate pleasure from watching mysteries unfold on screen. As Jeff found sinister meaning through the insightful lens of his window frame, viewers also gained entertainment from what they witnessed on screen.

With careful attention to detail and slow-building tension, Hitchcock presented a first-rate thriller that, despite its main character being housebound, was never dull for a moment. Rear Window had a highly entertaining story, a carefully constructed script, and fantastic performances by everybody involved, especially Stewart and his co-star Grace Kelly. Rear Window has remained one of Hitchcock’s best movies and a true tour de force of mystery and suspense.

1 Vertigo (1958)

Mystery: Why has Madeleine Elster been behaving strangely?

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Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Vertigo is a psychological thriller that follows a former police detective who retires from the force after one assignment leaves him with a devastating fear of heights. John Ferguson has changed over to a private investigator in his later years, and is hired by a friend to trail his wife, who has been acting uncharacteristically as of late. What follows is a descent into a mystery that will play off of John’s fears and unfold into an even greater one.

Director Alfred Hitchcock Release Date May 9, 1958 Studio(s) Paramount Pictures Distributor(s) Paramount Pictures , Universal Pictures Writers Alec Coppel , Samuel A. Taylor Cast Tom Helmore , Barbara Bel Geddes , Kim Novak , James Stewart , Henry Jones Runtime 128 minutes Budget $2.5 million Expand

When it came to Alfred Hitchcock’s mysteries, no story could outdo the cinematic marvel of Vertigo. What started with Detective Scottie Ferguson investigating the unusual behavior of a woman named Madeleine Elster soon turned into a shocking portrayal of obsession, male aggression, and coercive control. With a deeply complex and dark storyline, Vertigo was a masterpiece of filmmaking that the Sight & Sight worldwide critics poll (via BFI) ranked as the greatest movie of all time in 2012.

From the impeccable performances of James Stewart and Kim Novak to its deeply eerie and uncomfortable story of unreachable expectations and dark reconstructions, Vertigo captured something innately sinister about human nature. As Scottie slowly turned from the movie’s protagonist into its dark villain, Vertigo confounded audience expectations as it became increasingly dark throughout its runtime. The power of Vertigo was partly in Stewart’s unmatched performance, as he utilized his reputation as a likable leading man to play a character whose later cruelness felt jarring and highly effective.

Source: The New Yorker, The Telegraph, Variety, BFI

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