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The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

Updated February 24, 2020 21.7k votes 1.8k voters 71.7k views224 items

List RulesTop 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
    Psycho
    394
    121

    Psycho

    1960

    ActorsAlfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Martin Balsam

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Psycho is a 1960 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film centers on an... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    Casablanca
    477
    169

    ActorsIngrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid

    Directed byMichael Curtiz

    Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    The Maltese Falcon

    ActorsHumphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, Walter Huston, Ward Bond

    Directed byJohn Huston

    The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 Warner Bros. film noir based on the novel of the same name by... more on Wikipedia

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  • 4
    All About Eve
    219
    83

    ActorsMarilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Thelma Ritter

    Directed byJoseph L. Mankiewicz

    All About Eve is a 1950 American drama film written and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 5
    It's a Wonderful Life

    ActorsJames Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Ward Bond, Gloria Grahame

    Directed byFrank Capra

    It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas fantasy comedy-drama film produced and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 6
    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

    ActorsHumphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Barton MacLane, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett

    Directed byJohn Huston

    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is an American dramatic adventurous neo-western written and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 7
    Frankenstein
    102
    12

    ActorsBoris Karloff, John Boles, Colin Clive, Francis Ford, Paul Panzer

    Directed byJames Whale

    Frankenstein is a 1931 horror monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    Citizen Kane
    321
    144

    ActorsOrson Welles, Alan Ladd, Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten, Arthur O'Connell

    Directed byOrson Welles

    Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced by, co-written by, directed by and... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Rebecca
    135
    40

    ActorsLaurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Rebecca is a 1940 American psychological thriller-drama film. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Roman Holiday
    183
    68

    ActorsAudrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert, Silvio Bagolini, Harcourt Williams

    Directed byWilliam Wyler

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  • 11
    Double Indemnity

    ActorsFred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson

    Directed byBilly Wilder

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  • 12
    It Happened One Night

    ActorsClark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Ward Bond, Joseph Crehan, Bess Flowers

    Directed byFrank Capra

    It Happened One Night is a 1934 American romantic comedy film with elements of screwball... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Notorious
    143
    59

    ActorsIngrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock, Claude Rains, nm0129894

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Notorious is a 1946 American spy thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock,... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    Schindler's List

    ActorsLiam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Embeth Davidtz, Norbert Weisser

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by... more on Wikipedia
  • 15
    What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

    ActorsBette Davis, Joan Crawford, Robert Aldrich, Anna Lee, Dave Willock

    Directed byRobert Aldrich

    What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a 1962 American psychological thriller film produced and... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    King Kong
    177
    67

    ActorsFay Wray, Merian C. Cooper, Bruce Cabot, James Flavin, Frank Reicher

    Directed byMerian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack

    King Kong is a 1933 American fantasy monster/adventure film directed and produced by Merian C.... more on Wikipedia

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  • 17
    Sunset Boulevard

    ActorsWilliam Holden, Buster Keaton, Gloria Swanson, Yvette Vickers, Cecil B. DeMille

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    Sunset Boulevard—stylized onscreen as SUNSET BLVD.—is a 1950 American film noir directed and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 18
    Arsenic and Old Lace

    ActorsCary Grant, Peter Lorre, Raymond Massey, Edward Everett Horton, Charles Lane

    Directed byFrank Capra

    Arsenic and Old Lace is a 1944 American dark comedy film directed by Frank Capra, starring... more on Wikipedia

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  • 19
    The Philadelphia Story

    ActorsKatharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Roland Young, Ruth Hussey

    Directed byGeorge Cukor

    The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor,... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Stagecoach
    103
    38

    ActorsJohn Wayne, John Carradine, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, Thomas Mitchell

    Directed byJohn Ford

    Stagecoach is a 1939 American Western film directed by John Ford, starring Claire Trevor and... more on Wikipedia
  • 21
    On the Waterfront

    ActorsMarlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Steiger, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb

    Directed byElia Kazan

    On the Waterfront is a 1954 American drama film about union violence and corruption amongst... more on Wikipedia

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  • 22
    Strangers on a Train

    ActorsAlfred Hitchcock, Farley Granger, Leo G. Carroll, Ruth Roman, Marion Lorne

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Strangers on a Train is a 1951 American psychological thriller film noir produced and directed... more on Wikipedia

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  • 23
    The Big Sleep
    152
    71

    ActorsLauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Dorothy Malone, Martha Vickers, Regis Toomey

    Directed byHoward Hawks

    The Big Sleep is a 1946 film noir directed by Howard Hawks, the first film version of Raymond... more on Wikipedia

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  • 24
    The Best Years of Our Lives

    ActorsMyrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Virginia Mayo

    Directed byWilliam Wyler

    The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler and... more on Wikipedia

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  • 25
    The Grapes of Wrath

    ActorsHenry Fonda, John Carradine, John Qualen, Jane Darwell, Eddie Quillan

    Directed byJohn Ford

    The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 drama film directed by John Ford. It was based on John... more on Wikipedia

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