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The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made 

Ranker Film
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Updated February 24, 2020 22.4k votes 1.7k voters 69.6k views 232 items

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
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1942

Actors: Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid, + more

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

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 ...more

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#29 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #158 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

2
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1960

Actors: Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam, + more

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Psycho is a 1960 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film centers on an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane, who ends up at a secluded motel after taking money from ...more

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#8 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #612 of 1,208 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #7 of 847 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

3
The Maltese Falcon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1941

Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, Walter Huston, Ward Bond, + more

Directed by: John Huston

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 ...more

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#635 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #192 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #51 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books

4
Citizen Kane is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1941

Actors: Orson Welles, Alan Ladd, Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten, Arthur O'Connell, + more

Directed by: Orson Welles

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 ...more

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#575 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #239 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guyslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
All About Eve is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1950

Actors: Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Thelma Ritter, + more

Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

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 ...more

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#507 of 1,208 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #364 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1946

Actors: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Ward Bond, Gloria Grahame, + more

Directed by: Frank Capra

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 ...more

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Ayn Rand Tried To Convince The US Government "It's A Wonderful Life" Was Communist Propaganda #89 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #134 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

7
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1993

Actors: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Embeth Davidtz, Norbert Weisser, + more

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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 ...more

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#8 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #50 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

8
Roman Holiday is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1953

Actors: Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert, Silvio Bagolini, Harcourt Williams, + more

Directed by: William Wyler

Roman Holiday is a 1953 American romantic comedy directed and produced by William Wyler. It stars Gregory Peck as a reporter and Audrey Hepburn as a royal princess out to see Rome on her own. ...more

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#379 of 1,208 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #96 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

9
Sunset Boulevard is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1950

Actors: William Holden, Buster Keaton, Gloria Swanson, Yvette Vickers, Cecil B. DeMille, + more

Directed by: Billy Wilder

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 ...more

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#19 of 24 The Best Movies That Break the Fourth Wall #112 of 126 Movies That Should Never Be Remadelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

10
On the Waterfront is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1954

Actors: Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Steiger, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, + more

Directed by: Elia Kazan

On the Waterfront is a 1954 American drama film about union violence and corruption amongst longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon ...more

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#824 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #374 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guyslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
The Treasure of the Sier... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
but chickens double d added 1948

Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Barton MacLane, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett, + more

Directed by: John Huston

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, ...more

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#48 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #229 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books #406 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

12
What Ever Happened to Ba... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Mitchell Cope added 1962

Actors: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Robert Aldrich, Anna Lee, Dave Willock, + more

Directed by: Robert Aldrich

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 ...more

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#79 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #376 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
doremifasola added 1946

Actors: Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, Claude Rains, nm0129894, + more

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

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 ...more

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The Most Memorable Quotes From 'Notorious' #98 of 147 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time #28 of 50 The Best Movies Based on Short Stories

14
The Philadelphia Story ... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1940

Actors: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Roland Young, Ruth Hussey, + more

Directed by: George Cukor

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 ...more

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#268 of 1,208 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #230 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
Double Indemnity is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1944

Actors: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson

Directed by: Billy Wilder

Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir crime drama directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, based on James M. Cain's 1943 novella of the same name, which originally ...more

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16
The Big Sleep is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1946

Actors: Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Dorothy Malone, Martha Vickers, Regis Toomey, + more

Directed by: Howard Hawks

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 ...more
17
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
doremifasola added 1933

Actors: Fay Wray, Merian C. Cooper, Bruce Cabot, James Flavin, Frank Reicher, + more

Directed by: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack

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 ...more

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#260 of 847 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #28 of 568 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #81 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

18
Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
but chickens double d added 1940

Actors: Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson, + more

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Rebecca is a 1940 American psychological thriller-drama film. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it was his first American project, and his first film produced under contract with David O. Selznick. ...more

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#86 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #429 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

19
It Happened One Night is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1934

Actors: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Ward Bond, Joseph Crehan, Bess Flowers, + more

Directed by: Frank Capra

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 ...more

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#284 of 1,208 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #298 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

20
Arsenic and Old Lace is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
soxcat added 1944

Actors: Cary Grant, Peter Lorre, Raymond Massey, Edward Everett Horton, Charles Lane, + more

Directed by: Frank Capra

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 ...more

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#123 of 1,208 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #274 of 804 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made #119 of 1,027 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

21
The Third Man is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1949

Actors: Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Joseph Cotten, Carol Reed, Alida Valli, + more

Directed by: Carol Reed

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 ...more

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#142 of 250 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #293 of 314 The Top Must-Read Books of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

22
The Best Years of Our Li... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1946

Actors: Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Virginia Mayo, + more

Directed by: William Wyler

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 ...more

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#115 of 374 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #185 of 293 The Top Tearjerker Movies That Make Men Crylisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

23
Mildred Pierce is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1945

Actors: Joan Crawford, Eve Arden, Butterfly McQueen, Ann Blyth, Jack Carson, + more

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

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 ...more
24
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1940

Actors: Henry Fonda, John Carradine, John Qualen, Jane Darwell, Eddie Quillan, + more

Directed by: John Ford

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 ...more

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#760 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #89 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Bookslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

25
Stagecoach is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1939

Actors: John Wayne, John Carradine, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, Thomas Mitchell, + more

Directed by: John Ford

Stagecoach is a 1939 American Western film directed by John Ford, starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne in his breakthrough role. The screenplay, written by Dudley Nichols, is an adaptation of ...more

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#21 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #432 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever