Entertainment

The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made  

Ranker Film
Originally by
20.6k votes 1.6k voters 67.7k 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.

1
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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 ...more
2
It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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 ...more
3
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1960
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
4
Citizen Kane is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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 ...more
5
All About Eve is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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 ...more
6
The Maltese Falcon is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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 ...more
7
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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 ...more
8
Arsenic and Old Lace is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
soxcat added 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 ...more
9
What Ever Happened to Baby Jan... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
Mitchell Cope added 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 ...more
10
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
doremifasola added 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 ...more
11
It Happened One Night is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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 ...more
12
The Treasure of the Sierra Mad... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
but chickens double d added 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, ...more
13
Double Indemnity is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1944
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
14
On the Waterfront is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1954
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
15
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
doremifasola added 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 ...more
16
Sunset Boulevard is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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 ...more
17
Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
but chickens double d added 1940
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
18
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
RobLein added 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 ...more
19
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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 ...more
20
The Big Sleep is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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 ...more
21
Roman Holiday is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1953
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
22
The Philadelphia Story is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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 ...more
23
Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
jjussi added 1931
Frankenstein is a 1931 horror monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling, which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by ...more
24
The Hustler is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
LanaYoshii added 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 ...more
25
Bringing Up Baby is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
LanaYoshii added 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 ...more