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The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made 

Ranker Film
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Updated February 24, 2020 22.7k votes 1.7k voters 70.4k 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 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #267 of 481 The Greatest Movies for Guyslisted 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 239 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #14 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Books #153 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

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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#51 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Books #194 of 481 The Greatest Movies for Guys #642 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

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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#240 of 481 The Greatest Movies for Guys #171 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
It's a Wonderful Life is listed (or ranked) 5 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 #152 of 481 The Greatest Movies for Guys #120 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

6
All About Eve is listed (or ranked) 6 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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#500 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #740 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #4 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Bookslisted 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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#389 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #647 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted 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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#114 of 133 Movies That Should Never Be Remade #19 of 24 The Best Movies That Break the Fourth Walllisted 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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#351 of 481 The Greatest Movies for Guys #828 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted 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 399 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #228 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Books #106 of 203 The Best Adventure Movies

12
Double Indemnity is listed (or ranked) 12 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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#253 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Books #377 of 481 The Greatest Movies for Guys #477 of 693 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Made

13
What Ever Happened to Ba... is listed (or ranked) 13 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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#75 of 239 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #120 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

14
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 14 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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15
The Philadelphia Story ... is listed (or ranked) 15 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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#329 of 922 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #266 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

16
King Kong is listed (or ranked) 16 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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#262 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #30 of 406 The Greatest Disaster Movies of All Time #8 of 64 The Scariest Giant Monster Movies

17
The Big Sleep is listed (or ranked) 17 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

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#94 of 127 The Most Confusing Movies Ever Made #13 of 36 The Greatest Classic Noir Movies, Ranked #3 of 142 The Best Film Noir Movies

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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#90 of 239 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #290 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Bookslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

19
Arsenic and Old Lace is listed (or ranked) 19 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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20
It Happened One Night is listed (or ranked) 20 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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#222 of 922 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films #283 of 1,137 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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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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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#117 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #67 of 214 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted 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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#88 of 358 The Best Movies Based On Books #759 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted 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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#23 of 399 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #7 of 142 The Best Western Movies on Amazon Primelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever