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
365 134
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
347 102
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
292 86
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
234 109
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
253 113
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
144 63
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
155 71
Sunset Boulevard is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
177 71
The Maltese Falcon is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
159 61
Double indemnity is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

10
180 61
All About Eve is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
129 71
The Third Man is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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

12
130 58
On the Waterfront is listed (or ranked) 12 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

13
123 63
The Big Sleep is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
130 68
The Apartment is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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

15
111 55
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 15 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

16
160 52
Arsenic and Old Lace is listed (or ranked) 16 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

17
119 58
The Elephant Man is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
srjthnk added 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
108 25
What Ever Happened to Baby Jan... is listed (or ranked) 18 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

19
83 60
The Seventh Seal is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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

20
99 40
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
80 27
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is listed (or ranked) 21 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

22
77 29
The Treasure of the Sierra Mad... is listed (or ranked) 22 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

23
115 59
The Philadelphia Story is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
59 34
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
96 49
Touch of Evil is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1958 Touch of Evil is a 1958 American 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 ...more

26
89 45
The Best Years of Our Lives is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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

27
85 26
Bringing Up Baby is listed (or ranked) 27 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

28
78 23
Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 28 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

29
109 48
Mildred Pierce is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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

30
83 63
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf... is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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

31
66 31
Cape Fear is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
but chickens double d added 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

32
135 36
It Happened One Night is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
69 34
A Streetcar Named Desire is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
2probb added 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

34
63 20
Strangers on a Train is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1951 Strangers on a Train is an American psychological 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 ...more

35
85 53
High Noon is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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
69 26
Sabrina is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
RobLein added 1954 Sabrina is a 1954 American romantic comedy film directed by Billy Wilder, adapted for the screen by Wilder, Samuel A. Taylor, and Ernest Lehman from Taylor's play Sabrina Fair. It stars Humphrey ...more

37
76 53
Gilda is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
2probb added 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
68 47
The Great Dictator is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
doremifasola added 1940 The Great Dictator is a 1940 American satirical political comedy-drama film starring, written, produced, scored, and directed by Charlie Chaplin, following the tradition of many of his other ...more

39
48 43
Hud is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
2probb added 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

40
73 53
Modern Times is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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

41
81 44
Metropolis is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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

42
50 17
All Quiet on the Western Front is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
RobLein added 1930 All Quiet on the Western Front is a 1930 American epic 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 ...more

43
67 32
M is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
but chickens double d added 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

44
66 32
The 39 Steps is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
soxcat added 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

45
128 50
Roman Holiday is listed (or ranked) 45 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

46
69 35
The Manchurian Candidate is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
2probb added 1962 The Manchurian Candidate is a 1962 American Cold War suspense thriller directed by John Frankenheimer that stars Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Janet Leigh and co-stars Angela Lansbury, ...more

47
76 45
Harvey is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1950 Harvey is a 1950 film based on Mary Chase's play of the same name, directed by Henry Koster, and starring James Stewart and Josephine Hull. The story is about a man whose best friend is a pooka ...more

48
85 53
Paper Moon is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
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

49
42 14
From Here to Eternity is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
RobLein added 1953 From Here to Eternity is a 1953 drama film directed by Fred Zinnemann and based on the novel of the same name by James Jones. The picture deals with the tribulations of three soldiers, played by ...more

50
79 69
Raging Bull is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made
1980 Raging Bull is a 1980 American biographical black-and-white sports drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler and adapted by Paul Schrader and Mardik ...more