Best Thriller Movies of 1939


The Roaring Twenties

7.9/10 IMDB

After World War I, Armistice Lloyd Hart goes back to practice law, former saloon keeper George Hally turns to bootlegging, and out-of-work Eddie Bartlett becomes a cab driver. Eddie builds a fleet of cabs through delivery of bootleg liquor and hires Lloyd as his lawyer. George becomes Eddie's partner and the rackets flourish until love and rivalry interfere.

Starring: James Cagney, Priscilla Lane, Humphrey Bogart, Gladys George, Jeffrey Lynn, Frank McHugh, Paul Kelly, Elisabeth Risdon, Edward Keane, Joe Sawyer ..
Directed by: Raoul Walsh
Release date: 1939-10-28

The Hound of the Baskervilles

7.4/10 IMDB

On his uncle's death Sir Henry Baskerville returns from Canada to take charge of his ancestral hall on the desolate moors of Devonshire, and finds that Sherlock Holmes is there to investigate the local belief that his uncle was killed by a monster hound that has roamed the moors since 1650, and is likely to strike again at Sir Henry.

Starring: Richard Greene, Basil Rathbone, Wendy Barrie, Nigel Bruce, Lionel Atwill, John Carradine, Barlowe Borland, Beryl Mercer, Morton Lowry, Ralph Forbes ..
Directed by: Sidney Lanfield
Release date: 1939-03-24

Jamaica Inn

6.3/10 IMDB

In coastal Cornwall, England, during the early 19th Century, a young woman who's come there to visit her aunt, discovers that she's married an inkeeper who's a member of a gang of criminals who arrange shipwrecking and murder for profit.

Starring: Charles Laughton, Horace Hodges, Maureen O'Hara, Hay Petrie, Frederick Piper, Emlyn Williams, Herbert Lomas, Clare Greet, William Devlin, Jeanne De Casalis ..
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Release date: 1939-05-11

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

7.3/10 IMDB

Having once again avoided criminal conviction, Professor Moriarity develops a murderous plan to “finish off” his last major nemesis, Sherlock Holmes, by making him fail to prevent the perfect crime. Does it involve a family curse, the crown jewels of England, or something else…

Starring: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Ida Lupino, Alan Marshal, Terry Kilburn, George Zucco, Henry Stephenson, E. E. Clive, Arthur Hohl, May Beatty ..
Directed by: Alfred L. Werker
Release date: 1939-09-01

The Cat and the Canary

7.1/10 IMDB

Ten years after the death of millionaire Cyrus Norman, his will is to be read out to his six relatives, including Joyce Norman and Wally Campbell. Organized by Norman's lawyer, Crosby, the six meet at Norman's eerie New Orleans Gothic mansion. During the reading, the superstitious housekeeper declares that someone will be dead by midnight. Wally fears for Joyce when she is declared the sole inheritor, but all are alarmed when Crosby turns up dead.

Starring: Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, John Beal, Douglass Montgomery, Gale Sondergaard, Elizabeth Patterson, George Zucco, Nydia Westman, John Wray, George Regas ..
Directed by: Elliott Nugent
Release date: 1939-10-27
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Charlie Chan at Treasure Island

Charlie Chan at Treasure Island

7.2/10 IMDB

Charlie Chan's investigation of a blackmail-induced suicide as a case of murder leads him into a world of magick and mysticism peopled with a stage magician, a phoney spiritualist, and a for-real mind reader.

Starring: Sidney Toler, Victor Sen Yung, Cesar Romero, Douglas Fowley, Pauline Moore, Donald MacBride, Wally Vernon, Douglass Dumbrille, Sally Blane, Charles Halton ..
Directed by: Norman Foster
Release date: 1939-08-31

Each Dawn I Die

7.3/10 IMDB

A corrupt D.A. with governatorial ambitions is annoyed by an investigative reporter's criticism of his criminal activities and decides to frame the reporter for manslaughter in order to silence him.

Starring: James Cagney, George Raft, Jane Bryan, George Bancroft, Maxie Rosenbloom, Stanley Ridges, Alan Baxter, Victor Jory, John Wray, Edward Pawley ..
Directed by: William Keighley
Release date: 1939-07-22

Five Came Back

7.1/10 IMDB

Twelve people are aboard Coast Air Line's flagship the Silver Queen enroute to South America when the airplane encounters a storm and is blown off course. Crashing into jungles known to be inhabited by head hunters, pilots Bill and Joe race against time to fix the engines and attempt a take off. The situation brings out the best and worst in the stranded dozen as they create a makeshift runway and prepare to escape before the natives attack. But damage to the plane and low fuel reserves means that only 5 people can be carried to safety.

Starring: Chester Morris, Lucille Ball, Wendy Barrie, John Carradine, Allen Jenkins, Joseph Calleia, C. Aubrey Smith, Kent Taylor, Patric Knowles, Elisabeth Risdon ..
Directed by: John Farrow
Release date: 1939-06-23
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Charlie Chan in Reno

Charlie Chan in Reno

7.0/10 IMDB

Mary Whitman has gone to Reno to obtain a divorce. While there she is arrested on suspicion of murdering a fellow guest at her hotel (which specializes in divorcers). There are many others at the hotel who wanted the victim out of the way. Charlie comes from his home in Honolulu to solve the murder.

Starring: Sidney Toler, Ricardo Cortez, Phyllis Brooks, Slim Summerville, Kane Richmond, Victor Sen Yung, Pauline Moore, Eddie Collins, Kay Linaker, Louise Henry ..
Directed by: Norman Foster
Release date: 1939-06-16

The Spy in Black

6.9/10 IMDB

A German submarine is sent to the Orkney Isles in 1917 to sink the British fleet.

Starring: Conrad Veidt, Sebastian Shaw, Valerie Hobson, Marius Goring, June Duprez, Athole Stewart, Agnes Lauchlan, Helen Haye, Cyril Raymond, George Summers ..
Directed by: Michael Powell
Release date: 1939-08-03
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : They Made Me a Criminal

They Made Me a Criminal

6.8/10 IMDB

A boxer flees, believing he has committed a murder while he was drunk.

Starring: John Garfield, Claude Rains, Ann Sheridan, May Robson, Gloria Dickson, Billy Halop, Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell ..
Directed by: Busby Berkeley
Release date: 1939-01-21
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : City in Darkness

City in Darkness

6.5/10 IMDB

Chan, in Paris for a reunion with friends from World War I, becomes involved in investigating the murder of a munitions manufacturer who was supplying arms to the enemy, even as the rising clouds of World War II force the city into nightly blackout status..

Starring: Sidney Toler, Lynn Bari, Richard Clarke, Harold Huber, Pedro de Cordoba, Dorothy Tree, C. Henry Gordon, Douglass Dumbrille, Noel Madison, Leo G. Carroll ..
Directed by: Herbert I. Leeds
Release date: 1939-11-15
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Mr. Moto's Last Warning

Mr. Moto's Last Warning

6.4/10 IMDB

A Japanese man claiming to be Mr. Moto, of the International Police, is abducted and murdered soon after disembarking from a ship at Port Said in Egypt. The real Mr. Moto is already in Port Said, investigating a conspiracy against the British and French governments.

Starring: Peter Lorre, Ricardo Cortez, Virginia Field, John Carradine, George Sanders, Joan Carroll, Robert Coote, Margaret Irving, Leyland Hodgson, John Davidson ..
Directed by: Norman Foster
Release date: 1939-01-20

The Return of Doctor X

5.7/10 IMDB

When news reporter Walter Garrett arrives at the hotel room of bombshell actress Angela Merrova to conduct an interview, he finds her dead from multiple stab wounds. He returns with the police to find the hotel empty and the body vanished. Garrett writes about the incident but is fired when Merrova, alive and well, goes to the paper to complain. Now his only chance to get his job back is to find the truth, which involves the grisly scheme of a madman.

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Rosemary Lane, Wayne Morris, Dennis Morgan, John Litel, Lya Lys, Huntz Hall, Charles C. Wilson, Vera Lewis, Howard Hickman ..
Directed by: Vincent Sherman
Release date: 1939-11-23
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Blackmail


6.7/10 IMDB

A fugitive from a chain gang becomes an oil-well firefighter and meets the man who framed him.

Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Ruth Hussey, Gene Lockhart, Bobs Watson, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, John Wray, Arthur Hohl, Esther Dale, Trevor Bardette, Willie Best ..
Directed by: H. C. Potter
Release date: 1939-09-08
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Mr. Moto in Danger Island

Mr. Moto in Danger Island

6.7/10 IMDB

In Puerto Rico to investigate a glut of contraband diamonds that are flooding the world's jewel market, Mr. Moto and his sidekick, a wrestler, find themselves involved in murders by thrown daggers, the frame-up of an overstressed Army colonel, and a pirate gang led by an unknown boss who has inside knowledge of the ensuing investigation.

Starring: Peter Lorre, Jean Hersholt, Amanda Duff, Warren Hymer, Richard Lane, Leon Ames, Douglass Dumbrille, Charles D. Brown, Paul Harvey, Robert Lowery ..
Directed by: Herbert I. Leeds
Release date: 1939-04-07
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Let Us Live

Let Us Live

6.7/10 IMDB

When a confused eyewitness identifies New York City cabbie Brick Tennant as a killer, he is sentenced to death for a murder that he wasn't involved in. Though no one is willing to listen to the innocent prisoner's pleas for freedom, Brick's faithful fiancée, Mary, knows that her lover is innocent because she was with him when the crime was committed. As the scheduled execution draws ever nearer, Mary begins to investigate the murder herself.

Starring: Maureen O'Sullivan, Henry Fonda, Ralph Bellamy, Alan Baxter, Stanley Ridges, Henry Kolker, George Lynn, George Douglas, Phillip Trent, Martin Spellman ..
Directed by: John Brahm
Release date: 1939-03-29
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : The House of Fear

The House of Fear

6.3/10 IMDB

A detective goes undercover as a producer to investigate an actor's murder, which occurred during the performance of a play...

Starring: William Gargan, Irene Hervey, Dorothy Arnold, Alan Dinehart, Harvey Stephens, Walter Woolf King, Robert Coote, El Brendel, Tom Dugan, Jan Duggan ..
Directed by: Joe May
Release date: 1939-06-30
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation

Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation

6.5/10 IMDB

Mr. Moto is in Egypt to thwart a criminal mastermind determined to steal the priceless crown of the Queen of Sheba. When the precious treasure is transported to America, Mr. Moto must race against time to unmask the cunning thief who will stop at nothing—not even murder—to get what he wants.

Starring: Peter Lorre, Joseph Schildkraut, Lionel Atwill, Virginia Field, John 'Dusty' King, Iva Stewart, G.P. Huntley, Victor Varconi, John Bleifer, Honorable Wu ..
Directed by: Norman Foster
Release date: 1939-07-07

Q Planes

6.5/10 IMDB

An eccentric Scotland Yard inspector thinks something beamed from a spy ship is dropping planes.

Starring: Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Valerie Hobson, George Curzon, George Merritt, Gus McNaughton, David Tree, Sandra Storme, Hay Petrie, Frank Fox ..
Directed by: Tim Whelan, Arthur B. Woods
Release date: 1939-02-21
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : The Four Just Men

The Four Just Men

6.2/10 IMDB

The Four Men of the title are British WWI veterans who decide to work secretly against enemies of the country. They aren't above a bit of murder or sabotage to serve their ends, but they consider themselves to be true patriots.

Starring: Hugh Sinclair, Griffith Jones, Francis L. Sullivan, Frank Lawton, Anna Lee, Alan Napier, Basil Sydney, Lydia Sherwood, Edward Chapman, Athole Stewart ..
Directed by: Walter Forde
Release date: 1939-06-01
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Raffles


6.4/10 IMDB

Man about town and First Class cricketer A.J. Raffles keeps himself solvent with daring robberies. Meeting Gwen from his schooldays and falling in love all over again, he spends the weekend with her parents, Lord and Lady Melrose. A necklace presents an irresistible temptation, but also in attendance is Scotland Yard's finest, finally on the trail.

Starring: David Niven, Olivia de Havilland, May Whitty, Dudley Digges, Douglas Walton, E. E. Clive, Lionel Pape, Margaret Seddon, Hilda Plowright, Gilbert Emery ..
Directed by: Sam Wood
Release date: 1939-11-11
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Bulldog Drummond's Bride

Bulldog Drummond's Bride

5.9/10 IMDB

Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond is on the precipice of matrimony to his beloved Phyllis -- but a bank robbery and a daring escape is going to get in their way before they reach the altar.

Starring: John Howard, Heather Angel, H.B. Warner, Reginald Denny, E. E. Clive, Elizabeth Patterson, Eduardo Ciannelli, Gerald Hamer, John Sutton, Neil Fitzgerald ..
Directed by: James P. Hogan
Release date: 1939-07-12
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Bulldog Drummond's Secret Police

Bulldog Drummond's Secret Police

6.2/10 IMDB

Captain Drummond and his girlfriend want to marry but a hidden treasure in the house in which they want to celebrate their marriage is complicating the situation involving a series of deaths and an elusive murderer.

Starring: John Howard, Heather Angel, H.B. Warner, Reginald Denny, E. E. Clive, Elizabeth Patterson, Leo G. Carroll, Forrester Harvey, Clyde Cook, David Clyde ..
Directed by: James P. Hogan
Release date: 1939-03-29
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Panama Lady

Panama Lady

5.8/10 IMDB

A weary dance-hall girl in a Panama saloon is given the choice of jail or going with a rough-and-tumble oil driller's jungle oil-field in order to pay him back for being slipped a mickey and robbed.

Starring: Lucille Ball, Allan Lane, Steffi Duna, Evelyn Brent, Donald Briggs, Bernadene Hayes, Abner Biberman, William Pawley, Earle Hodgins, Lynton Brent ..
Directed by: Jack Hively
Release date: 1939-05-12
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : The Mystery of Mr. Wong

The Mystery of Mr. Wong

6.1/10 IMDB

Detective James Lee Wong must find the "Eye of the Daughter of the Moon," a priceless but cursed sapphire stolen in China and smuggled to America. His search takes him into the heart of Chinatown and to the dreaded "House of Hate" to find the deadly gem before it can kill again.

Starring: Boris Karloff, Grant Withers, Dorothy Tree, Craig Reynolds, Ivan Lebedeff, Holmes Herbert, Morgan Wallace, Lotus Long, Chester Gan, Hooper Atchley ..
Directed by: William Nigh
Release date: 1939-03-08
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Espionage Agent

Espionage Agent

5.9/10 IMDB

When Barry Corvall discovers that his new bride is a possible enemy agent, he resigns from the diplomatic service to go undercover to route out an espionage ring planning to destroy American industrial capability.

Starring: Joel McCrea, Brenda Marshall, Jeffrey Lynn, James Stephenson, Howard Hickman, Martin Kosleck, Nana Bryant, Rudolph Anders, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, George Davis ..
Directed by: Lloyd Bacon
Release date: 1939-09-30
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Secret Service of the Air

Secret Service of the Air

5.6/10 IMDB

Brass Bancroft and his sidekick Gabby Watters are recruited onto the secret service and go undercover to crack a ruthless gang that smuggles illegal aliens.

Starring: Ronald Reagan, Ila Rhodes, Eddie Foy Jr., James Stephenson, John Litel, Frank M. Thomas, Bernard Nedell, John Ridgely, Anthony Averill, Rosella Towne ..
Directed by: Noel M. Smith
Release date: 1939-03-04
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Devil's Island

Devil's Island

6.6/10 IMDB

A French doctor sentenced for treason performs brain surgery on the prison commandant's daughter.

Starring: Boris Karloff, Nedda Harrigan, James Stephenson, Adia Kuznetzoff, Rolla Gourvitch, Will Stanton, Edward Keane, Robert Warwick, Pedro de Cordoba, Tom Wilson ..
Directed by: William Clemens
Release date: 1939-01-07
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : The Gorilla

The Gorilla

4.8/10 IMDB

When an escaped circus gorilla appears to have gone on a murderous rampage, a threatened attorney calls on the detective trio of Garrity, Harrigan and Mullivan to act as bodyguards. In short order, we discover that there is more to the attorney than meets the eye, and the ape may be innocent after all. When a pretty young heiress faces peril, it's up to our heroic trio to save the day.

Starring: Jimmy Ritz, Harry Ritz, Al Ritz, Anita Louise, Patsy Kelly, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Joseph Calleia, Edward Norris, Wally Vernon ..
Directed by: Allan Dwan
Release date: 1939-05-26
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Mr. Wong in Chinatown

Mr. Wong in Chinatown

5.8/10 IMDB

A pretty Chinese woman, seeking help from San Francisco detective James Lee Wong, is killed by a poisoned dart in his front hall, having time only to scrawl "Captain J" on a sheet of paper. She proves to be Princess Lin Hwa, on a secret military mission for Chinese forces fighting the Japanese invasion. Mr. Wong finds two captains with the intial J in the case, neither being quite what he seems; there's fog on the waterfront and someone still has that poison-dart gun...

Starring: Boris Karloff, Marjorie Reynolds, Grant Withers, Huntley Gordon, George Lynn, William Royle, James Flavin, Lotus Long, Lee Tung Foo, Bessie Loo ..
Directed by: William Nigh
Release date: 1939-08-01
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : I Met a Murderer

I Met a Murderer

6.0/10 IMDB

An Englishwoman (Pamela Kellino) who writes novels meets a farmer (James Mason) who has just killed his nagging wife (Sylvia Coleridge).

Starring: James Mason, Sylvia Coleridge, William Devlin, Pamela Mason, Peter Coke, Esma Cannon, Sheila Morgan, James Harcourt, Sheppy, John Brooking ..
Directed by: Roy Kellino
Release date: 1939-03-04
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Sued for Libel

Sued for Libel

6.2/10 IMDB

A New York City newspaper is sued for libel after reporting the wrong verdict in a murder trial.

Starring: Kent Taylor, Linda Hayes, Lilian Bond, Morgan Conway, Richard Lane, Roger Pryor, Thurston Hall, Emory Parnell, Roy Gordon, Keye Luke ..
Directed by: Leslie Goodwins
Release date: 1939-10-27

Gas Light

7.9/10 IMDB

Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband. However, he has a secret that he will do anything to protect, even if means driving his wife insane.

Starring: Dennis Arundell, Gwen Ffrangcon Davies, Elizabeth Inglis, Milton Rosmer, Beatrice Rowe ..
Release date: 1939-03-19
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Swanee River

Swanee River

6.3/10 IMDB

Swanee River is a 1940 American biopic about Stephen Foster, a songwriter from Pittsburgh who falls in love with the South, marries a Southern girl, then is accused of sympathizing when the Civil War breaks out. Typical of 20th Century Fox biopics of the time, the film is more fictional than factual biography.

Starring: Don Ameche, Andrea Leeds, Al Jolson, Felix Bressart, Chick Chandler, Russell Hicks, Diane Fisher, George P. Breakston, Nella Walker, Mae Marsh ..
Directed by: Sidney Lanfield
Release date: 1939-12-29
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : Disbarred


6.0/10 IMDB

The Bar Association disbars attorney Tyler Cradon when it appears he was implicated in the murder of a prominent vice crusader. Cradon, not wishing to be without an income,is impressed by the way Joan Carroll handled a small-town murder, poses as a real estate agent and offers to get her into a law firm of a friend of his. Placed in the office of Roberts, running a front for Cradon, Joan is taught every trick of the trade. With her cases all prepared for her, she goes from one courtroom victory to another, soon becoming the darling of the underworld and the despair of all law-enforcing authorities.

Starring: Gail Patrick, Robert Preston, Otto Kruger, Sidney Toler, Helen MacKellar, Eddie Marr, Charles D. Brown, Clay Clement, Frank M. Thomas, Virginia Vale ..
Directed by: Robert Florey
Release date: 1939-01-06
Best Thriller Movies of 1939 : A Criminal at Large

A Criminal at Large

0.0/10 IMDB

At Marks Priory, Lady Lebanon is eager for her son, Lord William Lebanon, to marry Isla Crane, his cousin. But Isla is reluctant to do so, and is also frightened by the two footmen of the household who she suspects of locking her in her room at night. Following a village dance, the household's chauffeur is found strangled with an Indian scarf.

Starring: Nance O'Neil, Charles K. Gerrard, Dennis Hoey, Frances Reid, Tom Gorman, Pat Lawrence, Clarence Chase ..
Directed by: Anthony Mann
Release date: 1939-11-17

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