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.

list ordered by

1
181 51
It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 1 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 ...more

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2
176 70
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 2 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 ...more

3
174 68
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. ...more

4
152 47
12 Angry Men is listed (or ranked) 4 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 ...more

5
153 48
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 5 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.

6
139 65
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 ...more

7
119 59
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 ...more

8
96 42
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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 ...more

9
85 35
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 ...more

10
87 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 ...more

11
89 33
Double indemnity is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

12
108 40
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 ...more

13
101 39
All About Eve is listed (or ranked) 13 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 ...more

14
89 48
The Maltese Falcon is listed (or ranked) 14 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 ...more

15
74 49
The Third Man is listed (or ranked) 15 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 ...more

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16
81 25
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 ...more

17
73 32
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, ...more

18
70 42
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 ...more

19
77 40
On the Waterfront is listed (or ranked) 19 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 ...more

20
69 33
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 20 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 ...more

21
87 29
Mildred Pierce is listed (or ranked) 21 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 ...more

22
61 33
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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 ...more

23
69 43
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 ...more

24
46 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 ...more

25
64 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 ...more

26
63 35
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 ...more

27
56 31
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 ...more

28
45 22
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 28 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 ...more

29
81 20
It Happened One Night is listed (or ranked) 29 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 ...more

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30
39 9
What Ever Happened to Baby Jan... is listed (or ranked) 30 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 ...more

31
38 7
Bringing Up Baby is listed (or ranked) 31 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 ...more

32
34 14
Miracle on 34th Street is listed (or ranked) 32 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 ...more

33
27 19
The Hustler is listed (or ranked) 33 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 ...more

34
34 15
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is listed (or ranked) 34 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 ...more

35
56 37
High Noon is listed (or ranked) 35 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 ...more

36
51 46
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf... is listed (or ranked) 36 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 ...more

37
50 34
Gilda is listed (or ranked) 37 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 ...more

38
63 35
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 ...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, ...more

40
31 29
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, ...more

41
27 15
Seven Samurai is listed (or ranked) 41 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 ...more

42
48 38
Modern Times is listed (or ranked) 42 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 ...more

43
28 17
A Streetcar Named Desire is listed (or ranked) 43 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, ...more

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44
29 21
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 ...more

45
40 21
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 ...more

46
37 19
The 39 Steps is listed (or ranked) 46 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 ...more

47
47 30
Metropolis is listed (or ranked) 47 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 ...more

48
50 32
Judgment at Nuremberg is listed (or ranked) 48 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 ...more

49
24 9
Strangers on a Train is listed (or ranked) 49 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 ...more

50
39 35
The Gold Rush is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
The Gold Rush 1925 The Gold Rush is a 1925 American silent comedy film written, produced, and directed by Charlie Chaplin. The film also stars Chaplin in his Little Tramp persona, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain, Tom ...more