classic movies The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made  

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List Rules Top monochrome BW films

List of the best black and white movies ever made, as listed by movie critics and film fans from all over the world. From the time that movies were first being made until the late '60s, black and white was the exclusive color of movies, since that was the only filming technology available. Although movies are now almost all shot in color, the old black and white movies feel classic, like there’s a higher quality to their storytelling.

Even though color technology has existed for shooting movies since the late 1960s, some filmmakers choose to shoot their movies in black and white for either budget, aesthetical, or storytelling purposes. Movies like Schindler’s List, Paper Moon, and The Artist were all made when color was available but because the black and white makes viewers feel transported to a former time period. For some movies, like The Night of the Living Dead and Raging Bull, the lack of color makes the horror and violence seem even more frightening.

What are the best black and white movies of all time? This list features movies made in the '20s to those made in the last few years, covering all types of genres. These movies are often ranked among the best of the best.

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1
165 63
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Casablanca 1942 Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid; it ...more

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2
161 45
It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
It's a Wonderful Life 1946 It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra, based on the short story "The Greatest Gift", which Philip Van Doren Stern wrote in 1939 and published privately in ...more

3
160 66
To Kill a Mockingbird is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
To Kill a Mockingbird 1962 To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama film directed by Robert Mulligan. The screenplay by Horton Foote was based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Harper Lee. It stars Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus ...more

4
141 45
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Psycho 1960 Psycho is a 1960 Psychological thriller and horror film written by Joseph Stefano and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

5
142 46
12 Angry Men is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
12 Angry Men 1957 12 Angry Men is a 1957 American drama film adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. Written and co-produced by Rose himself and directed by Sidney Lumet, this trial film tells the story of a jury made up of 12 men as they ...more

6
128 61
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Schindler's List 1993 Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally, an Australian novelist. The film is ...more

7
105 58
Citizen Kane is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Citizen Kane 1941 Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced by, co-written by, directed by and starring Orson Welles. The picture was Welles's first feature film. The film was nominated for Academy Awards in nine categories; it won an Academy Award for ...more

8
88 38
Ranker Video
laustcawz added Young Frankenstein 1974 Young Frankenstein is a 1974 American comedy film directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder as the title character, a descendant of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The supporting cast includes Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Marty ...more

9
79 33
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
The Grapes of Wrath 1940 The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 drama film directed by John Ford. It was based on John Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by Nunnally Johnson and the executive producer was Darryl F. Zanuck. ...more

10
85 41
Sunset Boulevard is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Sunset Boulevard 1950 Sunset Boulevard—stylized onscreen as SUNSET BLVD.—is a 1950 American film noir directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, and produced and co-written by Charles Brackett. It was named after the boulevard that runs through Los Angeles and Beverly ...more

11
85 32
Double indemnity is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

12
101 38
Some Like It Hot is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Some Like It Hot 1959 Some Like It Hot is a 1959 American comedy film set in 1929, directed by Billy Wilder, starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The film is about two musicians who dress in drag in order to escape from mafia gangsters whom they ...more

13
86 46
The Maltese Falcon is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
The Maltese Falcon 1941 The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 Warner Bros. film noir based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. Directed by John Huston, the film stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade and Mary Astor as his femme fatale client. ...more

14
71 48
The Third Man is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
The Third Man 1949 The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. It is considered one of the greatest films of all time, celebrated for its atmospheric cinematography, ...more

15
91 38
All About Eve is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
All About Eve 1950 All About Eve is a 1950 American drama film written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. It was based on the 1946 short story "The Wisdom of Eve" by Mary Orr, although screen credit was not given for ...more

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78 21
Arsenic and Old Lace is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
soxcat added Arsenic and Old Lace 1944 Arsenic and Old Lace is a 1944 American dark comedy film directed by Frank Capra, starring Cary Grant, and based on Joseph Kesselring's play Arsenic and Old Lace. The script adaptation was by Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein. Capra ...more

17
69 30
The Elephant Man is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
srjthnk added The Elephant Man 1980 The Elephant Man is a 1980 American-British biographical film about Joseph Merrick, a severely deformed man in 19th century London. The film was directed by David Lynch and stars John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy ...more

18
62 40
The Apartment is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
The Apartment 1960 The Apartment is a 1960 American comedy-drama film produced and directed by Billy Wilder, which stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray. It was Wilder's next movie after Some Like It Hot and, like its predecessor, a commercial ...more

19
67 32
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
mainpleine added King Kong 1933 King Kong is a 1933 American fantasy monster/adventure film directed and produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. The screenplay by James Ashmore Creelman and Ruth Rose was from an idea conceived by Cooper and Edgar Wallace. It ...more

20
73 40
On the Waterfront is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
On the Waterfront 1954 On the Waterfront is a 1954 American crime drama film about union violence and corruption amongst longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando and features Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod ...more

21
60 31
Ranker Video
laustcawz added Bride of Frankenstein 1935 Bride of Frankenstein is a 1935 American horror film, the first sequel to Frankenstein. Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and stars Boris Karloff as The Monster, Elsa Lanchester in the dual role of his mate and Mary Shelley, ...more

22
82 28
Mildred Pierce is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Mildred Pierce 1945 Mildred Pierce is a 1945 American drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Joan Crawford, Jack Carson and Zachary Scott and featuring Eve Arden, Ann Blyth and Bruce Bennett, in a film noir about a long-suffering mother and her ...more

23
65 40
The Big Sleep is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
The Big Sleep 1946 The Big Sleep is a 1946 film noir directed by Howard Hawks, the first film version of Raymond Chandler's 1939 novel of the same name. The movie stars Humphrey Bogart as detective Philip Marlowe and Lauren Bacall as Vivian Rutledge in a story ...more

24
43 35
The Seventh Seal is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
The Seventh Seal 1957 The Seventh Seal is a 1957 Swedish drama-fantasy film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Set in Denmark during the Black Death, it tells of the journey of a medieval knight and a game of chess he plays with the personification of Death, ...more

25
61 32
Touch of Evil is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Touch of Evil 1958 Touch of Evil is a 1958 American crime thriller film, written, directed by, and co-starring Orson Welles. The screenplay was loosely based on the novel Badge of Evil by Whit Masterson. Along with Welles, the cast includes Charlton Heston, Janet ...more

26
60 34
The Philadelphia Story is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
The Philadelphia Story 1940 The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart and featuring Ruth Hussey. Based on the Broadway play of the same name by Philip Barry, the film ...more

27
55 30
The Best Years of Our Lives is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
The Best Years of Our Lives 1946 The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell. The film is about three United States servicemen ...more

28
37 8
What Ever Happened to Baby Jan... is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Mitchell Cope added What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962 What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a 1962 American psychological thriller film produced and directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford about an actress who holds her crippled sister captive to get people to idolize her. ...more

29
42 22
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
mainpleine added Notorious 1946 Notorious is a 1946 American spy thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately entangled during an espionage operation. It was shot in ...more

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The Hustler is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
LanaYoshii added The Hustler 1961 The Hustler is a 1961 American drama film directed by Robert Rossen from the Walter Tevis's 1959 novel of the same name Rossen and Sidney Carroll adapted for the screen. It tells the story of small-time pool hustler "Fast Eddie" ...more

31
30 12
Miracle on 34th Street is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
but chickens double d added Miracle on 34th Street 1947 Miracle on 34th Street is a 1947 Christmas film written and directed by George Seaton and based on a story by Valentine Davies. It stars Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. The story takes place between Thanksgiving Day ...more

32
50 44
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a 1966 American black comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Ernest Lehman is an adaptation of the play of the same title by Edward Albee. The film stars Elizabeth Taylor as Martha and ...more

33
73 20
It Happened One Night is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
It Happened One Night 1934 It Happened One Night is a 1934 American romantic comedy film with elements of screwball comedy directed by Frank Capra, in which a pampered socialite tries to get out from under her father's thumb, and falls in love with a roguish reporter. ...more

34
55 37
High Noon is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
High Noon 1952 High Noon is a 1952 American Western film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Gary Cooper. In nearly real time, the film tells the story of a town marshal forced to face a gang of killers by himself. The screenplay was written by Carl ...more

35
48 32
Gilda is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
2probb added Gilda 1946 Gilda is a 1946 American black-and-white film noir directed by Charles Vidor and starring Rita Hayworth in her signature role as the ultimate femme fatale and Glenn Ford as a young thug. The film was noted for cinematographer Rudolph Mate's ...more

36
32 7
Bringing Up Baby is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
LanaYoshii added Bringing Up Baby 1938 Bringing Up Baby is a 1938 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film tells the story of a paleontologist in a number of predicaments ...more

37
30 15
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
RobLein added Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 1939 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a 1939 American political comedy-drama film, starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur, about one man's effect on American politics. It was directed by Frank Capra and written by Sidney Buchman, based on Lewis R. ...more

38
62 34
Paper Moon is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Paper Moon 1973 Paper Moon is a 1973 American comedy-drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich and released by Paramount Pictures. Screenwriter Alvin Sargent adapted the script from the novel Addie Pray by Joe David Brown. The film, shot in black-and-white, is ...more

39
28 15
The Treasure of the Sierra Mad... is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
but chickens double d added The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is an American dramatic adventurous neo-western written and directed by John Huston. It is a feature film adaptation of B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name, about two financially desperate Americans, Fred C. ...more

40
30 28
Hud is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
2probb added Hud 1963 Hud is a 1963 Western film directed by Martin Ritt and starring Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal. It was produced by Ritt and Newman's recently founded company, Salem Productions, and was their first film for Paramount Pictures. ...more

41
28 17
A Streetcar Named Desire is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
2probb added A Streetcar Named Desire 1951 A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1951 American drama film adaptation of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 play of the same name. It is the story of a southern lady, Blanche Dubois, encountering a series of personal losses, seeking ...more

42
24 14
Seven Samurai is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
2probb added Seven Samurai 1954 Seven Samurai is a 1954 Japanese Jidaigeki adventure film co-written, edited, and directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film takes place in 1587 during the Warring States Period of Japan. It follows the story of a village of farmers that hire seven ...more

43
46 38
Modern Times is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Modern Times 1936 Modern Times is a 1936 comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin in which his iconic Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a comment on the desperate employment and fiscal ...more

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44
28 20
Cape Fear is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
but chickens double d added Cape Fear 1962 Cape Fear is a 1962 American psychological thriller film starring Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Martin Balsam and Polly Bergen. It was adapted by James R. Webb from the novel The Executioners by John D. MacDonald. It was directed by J. Lee ...more

45
39 20
M is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
but chickens double d added M 1931 M is a 1931 German drama-thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre. It was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou and was the director's first sound film. Now considered a classic, Lang himself believed it was his ...more

46
49 31
Judgment at Nuremberg is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
soxcat added Judgment at Nuremberg 1961 Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 American drama film dealing with the Holocaust, with non-combatant war crimes against a civilian population, and with the post-World War II geo-political complexity of the Nuremberg Trials. The picture was ...more

47
23 8
Strangers on a Train is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Strangers on a Train 1951 Strangers on a Train is an American psychological crime thriller film produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and based on the 1950 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith. It was shot in the autumn of 1950 and released by Warner Bros. ...more

48
36 19
The 39 Steps is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
soxcat added The 39 Steps 1935 The 39 Steps is a 1935 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. Loosely based on the 1915 adventure novel The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, the film is about a man in London who ...more

49
45 30
Metropolis is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Metropolis 1927 Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist epic science fiction drama film directed by Fritz Lang. The film was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou, and starred Brigitte Helm, Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel and Rudolf Klein-Rogge. A ...more

50
23 8
All Quiet on the Western Front is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
RobLein added All Quiet on the Western Front 1930 All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 American epic war film based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel of the same name. It was directed by Lewis Milestone, and stars Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres, John Wray, Arnold Lucy and Ben Alexander. All ...more