From Suspicion to Rear Window, Hitchcock’s 10 Top Romantic Thrillers Ranked


Although Alfred Hitchcock was best known for his espionage and mystery thrillers, his films also highlight the redeeming power of love and affection. In his honor, SPYSCAPE celebrates the master of suspense and secrets with our countdown of the British director’s Top 10 romantic thrillers. 


10. Suspicion (1941)

Hitchcock’s taut romance-turned-psychological thriller is a masterclass in suspense, easily earning Suspicion its place in the Top 10. The plot revolves around charming rogue John Aysgarth (Cary Grant) who sweeps Lina (Joan Fontaine) off of her feet. The couple soon elope, but who is Aysgarth, really? When Aysgarth’s business partner dies under suspicious circumstances wealthy Lina fears she may be next. Hitchcock was convinced that Joan Fontaine was the perfect choice for the role of Lina, although producer David O. Selznick insisted on testing "every actress in town, known or unknown", according to Hitchcock. "I felt she could play the character in a quiet, shy manner. At the outset she tended to overdo the shyness, but I felt she would work out all right, and once we got going, she did." (Prime Video, Apple TV)


9. The 39 Steps (1935)

Based loosely on John Buchan’s novel, The 39 Steps stars Robert Donat as a Canadian who becomes entangled in an international spy ring while visiting London. Madeleine Carroll co-stars as his unwilling accomplice until - handcuffed to each other and short on patience - sparks begin to fly. To put them in the right frame of mind, Hitchcock reportedly handcuffed the actors together for several hours before filming the scene where Hannay (Donat) and Pamela (Carroll) run through the countryside. (Prime Video, Apple TV, BBC iPlayer) 

8. The Lady Vanishes (1938) 

An avalanche disrupts travelers heading across Europe, forcing train delays and unlikely friendships. Iris (Margaret Lockwood) befriends an older woman, Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) but awakens to find Froy has disappeared. Mysteriously, the other passengers deny ever seeing Froy, prompting Iris to play amateur detective with the help of a handsome passenger (Michael Redgrave). Espionage fans will want to pay close attention to the musical score. (BBC iPlayer, PLEX, Google Play, Prime Video, YouTube, Apple TV)

7. To Catch a Thief (1955)

With Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in the lead roles, is it any wonder To Catch a Thief is still charming audiences decades after its release? The French Riviera tale involves the daughter of a wealthy widow (Grace Kelly) and a notorious cat burglar (Cary Grant) in a romantic game of cat and mouse. Hitchcock's film crews always enjoyed guessing where Hitchcock would make his cameo appearance in his movies and To Catch a Thief was no exception. Keep an eye out for the director during the bus scene with Cary Grant. (YouTube, Prime Video, Google Play, Apple TV)

From Suspicion to Rear Window, Hitchcock’s 10 Top Romantic Thrillers Ranked

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Although Alfred Hitchcock was best known for his espionage and mystery thrillers, his films also highlight the redeeming power of love and affection. In his honor, SPYSCAPE celebrates the master of suspense and secrets with our countdown of the British director’s Top 10 romantic thrillers. 


10. Suspicion (1941)

Hitchcock’s taut romance-turned-psychological thriller is a masterclass in suspense, easily earning Suspicion its place in the Top 10. The plot revolves around charming rogue John Aysgarth (Cary Grant) who sweeps Lina (Joan Fontaine) off of her feet. The couple soon elope, but who is Aysgarth, really? When Aysgarth’s business partner dies under suspicious circumstances wealthy Lina fears she may be next. Hitchcock was convinced that Joan Fontaine was the perfect choice for the role of Lina, although producer David O. Selznick insisted on testing "every actress in town, known or unknown", according to Hitchcock. "I felt she could play the character in a quiet, shy manner. At the outset she tended to overdo the shyness, but I felt she would work out all right, and once we got going, she did." (Prime Video, Apple TV)


9. The 39 Steps (1935)

Based loosely on John Buchan’s novel, The 39 Steps stars Robert Donat as a Canadian who becomes entangled in an international spy ring while visiting London. Madeleine Carroll co-stars as his unwilling accomplice until - handcuffed to each other and short on patience - sparks begin to fly. To put them in the right frame of mind, Hitchcock reportedly handcuffed the actors together for several hours before filming the scene where Hannay (Donat) and Pamela (Carroll) run through the countryside. (Prime Video, Apple TV, BBC iPlayer) 

8. The Lady Vanishes (1938) 

An avalanche disrupts travelers heading across Europe, forcing train delays and unlikely friendships. Iris (Margaret Lockwood) befriends an older woman, Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) but awakens to find Froy has disappeared. Mysteriously, the other passengers deny ever seeing Froy, prompting Iris to play amateur detective with the help of a handsome passenger (Michael Redgrave). Espionage fans will want to pay close attention to the musical score. (BBC iPlayer, PLEX, Google Play, Prime Video, YouTube, Apple TV)

7. To Catch a Thief (1955)

With Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in the lead roles, is it any wonder To Catch a Thief is still charming audiences decades after its release? The French Riviera tale involves the daughter of a wealthy widow (Grace Kelly) and a notorious cat burglar (Cary Grant) in a romantic game of cat and mouse. Hitchcock's film crews always enjoyed guessing where Hitchcock would make his cameo appearance in his movies and To Catch a Thief was no exception. Keep an eye out for the director during the bus scene with Cary Grant. (YouTube, Prime Video, Google Play, Apple TV)

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6. Torn Curtain (1966)

Paul Newman and Julie Andrews star in this political thriller set during the Cold War. An American scientist travels behind the Iron Curtain to East Germany. His assistant and fiancée, Sarah Sherman (Andrews), discovers he is flying to East Berlin and follows him, wondering why he's sneaking around. Hitchcock initially planned the film as a 'realistic Bond' movie and hoped Vladimir Nabokov, the Russian émigré novelist, would write the screenplay. "The question I'm really interested in is what would be the attitude of a young woman, perhaps in love with, or engaged to a scientist who could be a defector," Hitchcock confided to Nabokov in a letter. Unfortunately, Nabokov's busy schedule didn't allow the writer to work with Hitchcock. (YouTube, Apple TV, Prime Video)

5. North by Northwest (1959)

Cary Grant is back as a New York advertising executive mistaken for a CIA agent. He soon becomes mixed up in a deadly conspiracy involving Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint). Kendall is a beautiful temptress, but is she also a deadly double agent intent on bringing him down? North by Northwest - initially titled 'The Man on Lincoln's Nose' - was shot in two locations, captured in incredible behind-the-scenes photos of the movie in production. The initial establishing shots were shot on location at the historic Rushmore monument in South Dakota, while the rest was filmed on an MGM soundstage. (Prime Video)

4. Rear Window (1954)

Jimmy Stewart stars in Rear Window as ‘Jeff’ Jeffries, a news photographer sidelined from the action while nursing a broken leg. To pass the time, he spies on his New York City neighbors, including a woman who suddenly disappears. Jeff’s girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) joins the sleuthing until the pair find themselves wrapped up in a dangerous mystery. Hitchcock enjoyed combining humor and suspense so he chose Sam Spade radio writer John Michael Hayes for the screenplay. When the two met for the first time over dinner, Hayes arrived to find a table awash with champagne, hors d'oeuvres, steaks, and martinis. (Hitchcock liked a man who could drink, Hayes later recalled.) They spent the entire meal discussing Shadow of a Doubt, Hitchcock’s favorite movie, with a martini-fuelled Hayes telling Hitchcock where the great director had made mistakes. Hayes thought he’d blown his chances, but three days later the phone rang. “Hitch loved you,” he was told. (Apple TV, Chili, Prime Video)

3. Notorious (1946)

Ingrid Bergman stars as Alicia Huberman, the alcoholic daughter of a Nazi who falls in love with an American agent (Cary Grant) in post-WWII. She is asked to gather intelligence on a ring of Nazi scientists operating out of South America but how far is Alicia willing to go? She will soon be tested when Alicia meets the leader of the pro-Nazi group - someone who once was very much in love with her. The British Film Institute describes it as "a perverse love story that presents one of the most anguished relationships in American film" and "a perfect film, a rare feature in which you wouldn’t want to change a thing." (Prime Video, Apple TV)


2. Rebecca (1940)

Rebecca involves a woman (Joan Fontaine) who marries a widower only to find herself living in the shadow of his former wife who died mysteriously. What secret is her husband Max De Winter (Laurence Olivier) hiding? Hitchcock’s first American film wowed audiences, winning Best Picture. Fontaine was not the first choice for the key role, however. In fact, her older sister Olivia de Havilland was considered but her schedule was too hectic. Olivier lobbied for his soon-to-be wife Vivien Leigh to get the part but that didn’t work out either, which reportedly led to resentment. Olivier treated Fontaine coldly on the set, which Hitchcock turned to his advantage, using the tension to help create an atmosphere of dread and isolation. (Roku, Prime Video)

1. Vertigo (1958)


Vertigo’s dark love story involves ‘Scottie’ Ferguson, an ex-police detective with a fear of heights, who falls for a woman who may not be what she seems. James Stewart is brilliant as the toxic private eye. Kim Novak dazzles as a mysterious woman who may be involved in a murder plot. Hitchcock’s masterpiece is set in San Francisco. Although Hitchcock was originally believed to have erred in giving away the film’s plot twist halfway through the movie, Sight and Sound - and many others - have named Vertigo as the greatest film ever made. (Prime Video, YouTube, Apple TV, Google Play)

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