Best Thriller Movies of 1940



8.1/10 IMDB

Story of a young woman who marries a fascinating widower only to find out that she must live in the shadow of his former wife, Rebecca, who died mysteriously several years earlier. The young wife must come to grips with the terrible secret of her handsome, cold husband, Max De Winter. She must also deal with the jealous, obsessed Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, who will not accept her as the mistress of the house.

Starring: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson, Nigel Bruce, Reginald Denny, Gladys Cooper, Florence Bates, Leo G. Carroll, Leonard Carey ..
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Release date: 1940-03-23

Foreign Correspondent

7.4/10 IMDB

The European war was only beginning to erupt across national borders. Johnny Jones, an American crime reporter dispatched by his New York publisher to put a fresh spin on the drowsy dispatches emanating from overseas, has a nose for a good story—which promptly leads him to the crime of fascism and Nazi Germany's designs on European conquest. In attempting to learn more about a seemingly noble peace effort, Jones walks into the middle of an assassination, uncovers a spy ring and—not entirely coincidentally—falls in love.

Starring: Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, George Sanders, Albert Bassermann, Robert Benchley, Edmund Gwenn, Eduardo Ciannelli, Harry Davenport, Martin Kosleck ..
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Release date: 1940-08-16

Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum

7.0/10 IMDB

A wax museum run by a demented doctor contains statues of such crime figures as Jack the Ripper and Bluebeard. In addition to making wax statues the doctor performs plastic surgery. It is here that an arch fiend takes refuge. The museum also houses a statue of Charlie. Frustrated number-two son kicks statue in rear; oops, number-two son wrong in his assumption

Starring: Sidney Toler, Victor Sen Yung, C. Henry Gordon, Marc Lawrence, Joan Valerie, Marguerite Chapman, Ted Osborne, Michael Visaroff, Hilda Vaughn, Charles Wagenheim ..
Directed by: Lynn Shores
Release date: 1940-09-06

They Drive by Night

7.2/10 IMDB

Joe and Paul Fabrini are Wildcat, or independent, truck drivers who have their own small one-truck business. The Fabrini boys constantly battle distributors, rivals and loan collectors, while trying to make a success of their transport company.

Starring: George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart, Gale Page, Alan Hale, Roscoe Karns, John Litel, George Tobias, George Lloyd ..
Directed by: Raoul Walsh
Release date: 1940-07-26
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Night Train to Munich

Night Train to Munich

7.2/10 IMDB

Czechoslovakia, March 1939, on the eve of World War II. As the German invaders occupy Prague, inventor Axel Bomasch manages to flee and reach England; but those who need to put his knowledge at the service of the Nazi war machine, in order to carry out their evil plans of destruction, will stop at nothing to capture him.

Starring: Margaret Lockwood, Rex Harrison, Paul Henreid, Basil Radford, Naunton Wayne, James Harcourt, Felix Aylmer, Wyndham Goldie, Roland Culver, Eliot Makeham ..
Directed by: Carol Reed
Release date: 1940-08-31
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Gaslight


7.3/10 IMDB

Twenty years removed from Alice Barlow's murder by a thief looking for her jewels, newlyweds Paul and Bella Mallen move into the very house where the crime was committed. Retired detective B.G. Rough, who worked on the Barlow case, is still in the area and grows suspicious of Paul, who he feels bears a striking resemblance to one of Barlow's relatives. Rough must find the truth before the killer can strike again and reclaim his bounty.

Starring: Adolf Wohlbrück, Diana Wynyard, Frank Pettingell, Cathleen Cordell, Robert Newton, Jimmy Hanley, Minnie Rayner, Marie Wright, Aubrey Dexter, Mary Hinton ..
Directed by: Thorold Dickinson
Release date: 1940-06-25


7.0/10 IMDB

An American goes to Germany to find his mother and discovers her in a concentration camp. With the help of an American-born widowed countess he seeks to engineer her escape.

Starring: Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, Conrad Veidt, Alla Nazimova, Felix Bressart, Albert Bassermann, Philip Dorn, Edgar Barrier, Bonita Granville, Elsa Bassermann ..
Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy
Release date: 1940-11-01
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Charlie Chan in Panama

Charlie Chan in Panama

7.1/10 IMDB

Charlie impersonates an employee of the U.S. government to foil an espionage plot which would destroy part of the Panama Canal, trapping a Navy fleet on its way to the Pacific after maneuvers in the Atlantic.

Starring: Sidney Toler, Jean Rogers, Lionel Atwill, Mary Nash, Victor Sen Yung, Kane Richmond, Chris-Pin Martin, Lionel Royce, Helen Ericson, Jack La Rue ..
Directed by: Norman Foster
Release date: 1940-03-01
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise

Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise

7.1/10 IMDB

On a cruise ship from Honolulu to San Francisco, the famous Chinese detective encounters four more murders while trying to figure out the murder of a Scotland Yard friend.

Starring: Sidney Toler, Marjorie Weaver, Lionel Atwill, Victor Sen Yung, Don Beddoe, Leo G. Carroll, Robert Lowery, Harlan Briggs, Cora Witherspoon, Kay Linaker ..
Directed by: Eugene Forde
Release date: 1940-05-02

The House of the Seven Gables

7.0/10 IMDB

In 1828, the bankrupt Pyncheon family fight over Seven Gables, the ancestral mansion. To obtain the house, Jaffrey Pyncheon obtains his brother Clifford's false conviction for murder. Hepzibah, Clifford's sweet fiancée, patiently waits twenty years for his release, whereupon Clifford and his former cellmate, abolitionist Matthew, have a certain scheme in mind.

Starring: George Sanders, Margaret Lindsay, Vincent Price, Nan Grey, Dick Foran, Cecil Kellaway, Alan Napier, Gilbert Emery, Miles Mander, Charles Trowbridge ..
Directed by: Joe May
Release date: 1940-02-29
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Contraband


6.9/10 IMDB

When a neutral Danish merchant ship is forced to put into port after trying to evade British wartime contraband control, its captain becomes involved in a beautiful British Naval Intelligent agent's efforts to capture a group of German spies operating from a London cinema.

Starring: Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, Hay Petrie, Joss Ambler, Raymond Lovell, Esmond Knight, Charles Victor, Phoebe Kershaw, Harold Warrender, John Longden ..
Directed by: Michael Powell
Release date: 1940-05-11

Brother Orchid

7.0/10 IMDB

When retired racket boss John Sarto tries to reclaim his place and former friends try to kill him, he finds solace in a monastery and reinvents himself as a pious monk.

Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Ann Sothern, Humphrey Bogart, Donald Crisp, Ralph Bellamy, Allen Jenkins, Charles D. Brown, Cecil Kellaway, Morgan Conway, Richard Lane ..
Directed by: Lloyd Bacon
Release date: 1940-06-07
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Stranger on the Third Floor

Stranger on the Third Floor

6.8/10 IMDB

Newspaper reporter Michael Ward plunges into a nightmare of guilt, fearing that his "evidence" has sentenced the wrong man to death.

Starring: Peter Lorre, John McGuire, Margaret Tallichet, Charles Waldron, Elisha Cook Jr., Charles Halton, Ethel Griffies, Cliff Clark, Oscar O'Shea, Alec Craig ..
Directed by: Boris Ingster
Release date: 1940-08-16

Murder Over New York

6.9/10 IMDB

When Charlie's old friend from Scotland Yard is murdered when they attend a police convention in New York, Chan picks up the case he was working on.

Starring: Sidney Toler, Marjorie Weaver, Robert Lowery, Ricardo Cortez, Donald MacBride, Melville Cooper, Joan Valerie, Kane Richmond, Victor Sen Yung, John Sutton ..
Directed by: Harry Lachman
Release date: 1940-12-13

The Invisible Man Returns

6.5/10 IMDB

The owner of a coal mining operation, falsely imprisoned for fratricide, takes a drug to make him invisible, despite its side effect: gradual madness.

Starring: Cedric Hardwicke, Vincent Price, Nan Grey, John Sutton, Cecil Kellaway, Alan Napier, Forrester Harvey, Jimmy Aubrey, Billy Bevan, Harry Cording ..
Directed by: Joe May
Release date: 1940-01-12
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : The Fatal Hour

The Fatal Hour

5.4/10 IMDB

When a police officer is murdered, Captain Street looks to Mr. Wong to catch the killer. Prime Suspect: Frank Belden Jr., whose father is a businessman well known for both his success and dishonesty. Mr. Wong faces increasing danger and is nearly executed himself as the investigation develops in treachery and complexity. As Mr. Wong follows the trail of dead bodies, he uncovers a jewel smuggling ring on the San Francisco waterfront and a case much larger than the death of a police officer.

Starring: Boris Karloff, Marjorie Reynolds, Grant Withers, Charles Trowbridge, Frank Puglia, Craig Reynolds, Lita Chevret, Harry Strang, Hooper Atchley, Jason Robards Sr. ..
Directed by: William Nigh
Release date: 1940-01-15
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Doomed to Die

Doomed to Die

5.5/10 IMDB

Shipping magnate Cyrus Wentworth, downcast over a disaster to his ocean liner 'Wentworth Castle' (carrying, oddly enough, an illicit shipment of Chinese bonds) is shot in his office at the very moment of kicking out his daughter's fiance Dick Fleming. Of course, Captain Street arrests Dick, but reporter Bobbie Logan, the attractive thorn in Street's side, is so convinced he's wrong that she enlists the help of detective James Lee Wong to find the real killer.

Starring: Boris Karloff, Marjorie Reynolds, Grant Withers, William Stelling, Catherine Craig, Guy Usher, Henry Brandon, Melvin Lang, Wilbur Mack, Kenneth Harlan ..
Directed by: William Nigh
Release date: 1940-08-12
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Saloon Bar

Saloon Bar

6.9/10 IMDB

A bookmaker with a fancy for detective work attempts to prevent the execution of a potentially innocent man.

Starring: Gordon Harker, Elizabeth Allan, Mervyn Johns, Joyce Barbour, Anna Konstam, Cyril Raymond, Judy Campbell, Al Millen, Norman Pierce, Alec Clunes ..
Directed by: Walter Forde
Release date: 1940-11-02
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : The Lady in Question

The Lady in Question

6.3/10 IMDB

When a jury member takes in the defendant he couldn't convict, she has a bad influence on his son.

Starring: Brian Aherne, Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, Irene Rich, George Coulouris, Lloyd Corrigan, Evelyn Keyes, Edward Norris, Curt Bois, Frank Reicher ..
Directed by: Charles Vidor
Release date: 1940-08-07
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Girl in the News

Girl in the News

6.8/10 IMDB

An elderly lady manages to sneak some pills away from her nurse and dies of an overdose. The nurse is tried for murder and acquitted. Some time later the nurse, under a new name and identity, cares for a patient who also dies of an overdose. When her real identity comes out, suspicions arouses.

Starring: Margaret Lockwood, Barry K. Barnes, Emlyn Williams, Roger Livesey, Basil Radford, Margaretta Scott, Wyndham Goldie, Irene Handl, Mervyn Johns, Betty Jardine ..
Directed by: Carol Reed
Release date: 1940-08-28
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : A Window in London

A Window in London

6.5/10 IMDB

A man witnesses a murder that isn't a murder, only to get involved with the magician and his wife who created the illusion. The insanely jealous magician husband eventually kills his wife, making for complications in life of unhappily married man who is now involved more than he ever thought he would be.

Starring: Michael Redgrave, Sally Gray, Paul Lukas, Hartley Power, Patricia Roc, Glen Alyn, Gertrude Musgrove, George Carney, Bryan Coleman, Alf Goddard ..
Directed by: Herbert Mason
Release date: 1940-06-15
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : The Lone Wolf Strikes

The Lone Wolf Strikes

6.5/10 IMDB

Delia Jordan's father is murdered and some very valuable jewelry stolen. She hires The Lone Wolf.

Starring: Warren William, Joan Perry, Eric Blore, Alan Baxter, Astrid Allwyn, Montagu Love, Robert Wilcox, Don Beddoe, Fred Kelsey, Addison Richards ..
Directed by: Sidney Salkow
Release date: 1940-01-26
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : East Side Kids

East Side Kids

5.5/10 IMDB

After living all his chilhood in the street, a young boy notices rapidly that crime doesn't pay and that´s why he decides to become a policeman. One day, one of his best friends go in prison for a murder he didn't commit. Immediately the policeman tries his best to release him and prove his innocence.

Starring: Leon Ames, Dennis Moore, Joyce Bryant, Hal E. Chester, Harris Berger, Frankie Burke, Vince Barnett, Dave O'Brien, Ted Adams, Maxine Leslie ..
Directed by: Robert F. Hill
Release date: 1940-02-10
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : The Case of the Frightened Lady

The Case of the Frightened Lady

6.3/10 IMDB

A classic British thriller set in a sinister old house, based on a story by Edgar Wallace.

Starring: Marius Goring, Helen Haye, Penelope Dudley-Ward, Felix Aylmer, George Merritt, Ronald Shiner, Patrick Barr, Roy Emerton, George Hayes, John Warwick ..
Directed by: George King
Release date: 1940-09-28

The Mad Doctor

6.4/10 IMDB

A reporter sleuths the mystery behind an oft-married Viennese doctor whose wives met mysterious fates.

Starring: Basil Rathbone, Ellen Drew, Barbara Jo Allen, Ralph Morgan, Martin Kosleck, Kitty Kelly, Hugh O'Connell, Henry Victor, Wanda McKay, James Seay ..
Directed by: Tim Whelan
Release date: 1940-12-20
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Phantom of Chinatown

Phantom of Chinatown

5.8/10 IMDB

In the middle of a pictorial lecture on his recent expedition to the Mongolian Desert, Dr. John Benton,the famous explorer, drinks from the water bottle on his lecture table, collapses and dies. His last words "Eternal Fire" are the only clue Chinese detective Jimmy Wong and Captain Street of the police department have to work on.

Starring: Keye Luke, Grant Withers, Lotus Long, Charles Miller, Huntley Gordon, Virginia Carpenter, John Dilson, Paul McVey, John Holland, Richard Terry ..
Directed by: Phil Rosen
Release date: 1940-11-18
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : The Door with Seven Locks

The Door with Seven Locks

5.5/10 IMDB

A wealthy lord dies and is entombed with a valuable deposit of jewels. Seven keys are required to unlock the tomb and get hold of the treasure. A mad doctor uses an iron maiden to systematically eliminate the heirs to the fortune.

Starring: Leslie Banks, Lilli Palmer, Cathleen Nesbitt, Gina Malo, David Horne, Romilly Lunge, Richard Bird, J.H. Roberts, Aubrey Mallalieu, Harry Hutchinson ..
Directed by: Norman Lee
Release date: 1940-10-12
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Boys of the City

Boys of the City

5.6/10 IMDB

Street kids get sent to the country, where they get mixed up in murder and a haunted house.

Starring: Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey, Hal E. Chester, Frankie Burke, Vince Barnett, Inna Gest, Dave O'Brien, Sunshine Sammy Morrison, Minerva Urecal, Dennis Moore ..
Directed by: Joseph H. Lewis
Release date: 1940-07-15
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Murder in the Air

Murder in the Air

5.4/10 IMDB

Enemy agents are everywhere and they are sabotaging all important war deliveries. The body of a hobo found in a train wreck had a money belt with $50,000 and a tattoo of a circle and arrow. This is a tattoo for saboteurs for hire and Brass must impersonate the dead man to find out what his orders are. As Steve Coe, he meets with the band of enemy agents in California and everything goes well until the wife of the dead 'Hobo' shows up. Luckily, Gabby is able to save Brass and Brass learns what is his assignment. He is to board the USN airship 'Mason', which is testing the super secret Inertia Projector, and destroy the airship.

Starring: Ronald Reagan, Eddie Foy Jr., John Litel, Lya Lys, Frank Wilcox, James Stephenson, Julie Stevens, Helen Lynd, Robert Warwick, Victor Zimmerman ..
Directed by: Lewis Seiler
Release date: 1940-06-01
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Law and Disorder

Law and Disorder

6.1/10 IMDB

On the eve of WWII a young defence lawyer, assisted by his wife, invaigles his way into a gang of foreign saboteurs. Comedy thriller, ably executed by a satisfactory cast.

Starring: Alastair Sim, Barry K. Barnes, Diana Churchill, Edward Chapman ..
Directed by: David MacDonald
Release date: 1940-07-06
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Terry and the Pirates

Terry and the Pirates

5.8/10 IMDB

Dr. Herbert Lee, an archaeologist seeking to decipher ancient Mara inscriptions, is aided by his son Terry, Terry's pal Pat Ryan, and Normandie Drake. Jungle pirate and warlord Fang (Dick Curtis) plots to kill The Dragon Lady, Queen of the Temple of Mara, and seize the treasures of her ancestors. Both Fang and The Dragon Lady have sworn death for any foreign intruders.

Starring: William Tracy, Jeff York, Joyce Bryant, Joyce Bryant, Victor DeCamp, Sheila Darcy, Dick Curtis, John Paul Jones, Forrest Taylor, Jack Ingram ..
Directed by: James W. Horne
Release date: 1940-04-12
Best Thriller Movies of 1940 : Danger On Wheels

Danger On Wheels

5.3/10 IMDB

During a test, a race car using an experimental oil fueled engine blows up, killing the driver. Lucky Taylor, a stunt driver, is initially blamed for the accident, but is later cleared. He thinks the engine design has a real chance to win races, but the racing association has banned it since the accident. He devises a scheme to have a car equipped with the engine entered into a race, without race officials-- or the engine designer's sassy daughter -- finding out about it.

Starring: Richard Arlen, Andy Devine, Peggy Moran, Vinton Hayworth, Herbert Corthell, Harry C. Bradley, Sandra King, Landers Stevens, John Holmes, Jack Rice ..
Directed by: Christy Cabanne
Release date: 1940-02-02

Dead End Kids vs. Spies, Inc.

0.0/10 IMDB

The Dead End Kids smash a spy ring in this feature-length version of the Universal serial Junior G-Men. Billy, the leader of the Dead End Kids, learns that his scientist father has been captured by the "Order of the Flaming Torch." This group of fifth columnists plans to use America's biggest brains to destroy the country from within. When the saboteurs outwit the gang's street smarts, the kids have no choice but to ask the FBI for help. The feds send in their own teenage contingent -- The Junior G-Men! Now the two groups must form an uneasy alliance, before the Order of the Flaming Torch can turn the U.S.A. into Amerika, the Evil Empire!

Starring: Billy Halop, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, Bernard Punsly, Kenneth Lundy, Kenneth Howell, Roger Daniel, Phillip Terry, Russell Hicks, Cy Kendall ..
Directed by: Ford Beebe, John Rawlins
Release date: 1940-10-01

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