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Best black and white films of all time

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Universal International Pictures (UI)

Best black and white films of all time

Thanks to ongoing advancements in technology and resolution, modern films are more colorful than ever before. Yet there’s something to be said for movies shot in black and white. For proof, look no further than Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” which just took home two Golden Globes for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director. Based on Cuarón’s own childhood experiences, the movie uses black and white to consciously evoke mood, history, and memory. It also lends the work a heightened sense of intimacy, suggesting that black and white movies are often more personal than their colorful counterparts.

Of course, Cuarón is merely the last in a long line of directors to employ black and white for aesthetic purposes. In fact, one could even argue that his decision was partly inspired by the works of numerous Italian and French auteurs before him, who likewise used black and white to convey a range of moods and ideas. Along similar lines, plenty of Old Hollywood directors still opted for black and white even when Technicolor was taking the industry by storm. That’s not to mention the early days of cinema, when black and white movies were omnipresent.

To determine the best black and white films of all time, Stacker dug into IMDb's broad database, which yielded a list spanning genres, decades, and nationalities. To qualify, each film had to be primarily in black and white, meaning color films with black and white sequences were not included. However, black and white films with sparse color sequences (e.g. “Schindler’s List”) were included. Each film also needed at least 10,000 votes to make the list. In the case of a rating tie, the movie with more votes ranked higher. Counting down from #100, here are the best black and white films of all time.  

ALSO: 100 best films of the 21st century, according to critics

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RKO Radio Pictures

#100. Out of the Past (1947)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 28,265
Director(s): Jacques Tourneur
Featuring: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming
Runtime: 97 min.

Daniel Mainwaring (writing as Geoffrey Homes) adapted his own novel into this classic film noir. It stars Robert Mitchum as a private eye turned small-town gas station owner, who plunges back into the dangerous world he left behind. The film was remade in 1984 as “Against All Odds” with Jeff Bridges and James Woods.  
 

3/
Toho Company

#99. The Hidden Fortress (1958)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 28,959
Director(s): Akira Kurosawa
Featuring: Toshirô Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki, Kamatari Fujiwara
Runtime: 126 min.

Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was behind some of international cinema's most iconic black and white films, including this one from 1958. It follows two scheming peasants as they escort a man and a woman into hostile territory in pursuit of gold. Combining dry wit and thrilling action, the film was a major influence on George Lucas' “Star Wars.”

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Réalisation d'art cinématographique (RAC)

#98. La Grande Illusion (1937)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 30,527
Director(s): Jean Renoir
Featuring: Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim
Runtime: 113 min.

Considered a forebearer to modern escape films, this gripping drama follows two French soldiers as they try to break out of a German P.O.W. camp during WWI. Like a number of Jean Renoir films, it comes bolstered by terrific performances, expert pacing, visual finesse, and thematic undercurrents. According to critic Roger Ebert, “La Grande Illusion” is less about war than it is about “the collapse of the old order of European civilization.”

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Cineguild

#97. Brief Encounter (1945)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 30,950
Director(s): David Lean
Featuring: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey
Runtime: 86 min.

As the man behind “Lawrence of Arabia,” director David Lean was no stranger to sweeping color. However, this romantic drama from 1945 proves he was just as adept shooting in black and white. It centers on the doomed love affair between a housewife and a doctor, who convene every Thursday at a railway station cafe.  

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Ealing Studios

#96. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 31,298
Director(s): Robert Hamer
Featuring: Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood
Runtime: 106 min.

Long before he tackled the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Sir Alec Guinness played multiple members of the same family in this comedic thriller. Taking a classic premise to extremes, the film follows a poor man (Dennis Price) as he attempts to murder eight of his distant relatives. Should the man succeed, he will be next in line to inherit the title of Duke of Chalfont.

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Paramount Pictures

#95. Paper Moon (1973)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 36,832
Director(s): Peter Bogdanovich
Featuring: Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal, Madeline Kahn, John Hillerman
Runtime: 102 min.

Using black and white to evoke the atmosphere of the Great Depression, director Peter Bogdanovich brought this award-winning comedic drama to life. The film chronicles the misadventures of traveling grifter Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal), who sells overpriced Bibles to unwitting marks. When a young girl (Tatum O'Neal) who may or may not be his daughter insists on tagging along, the two form an unlikely partnership.  
 

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Columbia Pictures Corporation

#94. The Last Picture Show (1971)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 36,846
Director(s): Peter Bogdanovich
Featuring: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson
Runtime: 118 min.

According to legend, it was filmmaker Orson Welles who suggested that Peter Bogdanovich shoot this iconic drama in black and white. Set in an impoverished West Texas town circa 1951, the movie explores the lives of high schoolers as they grapple with their bleak futures. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, taking home two.

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Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica

#93. The Nights of Cabiria (1957)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 37,559
Director(s): Federico Fellini
Featuring: Giulietta Masina, François Périer, Franca Marzi, Dorian Gray
Runtime: 110 min.

This prime slice of Italian neorealism comes to viewers from master filmmaker Federico Fellini. It stars Fellini's wife and muse Giulietta Masina as a young prostitute who searches for romance and happiness in the streets of Roma. What she finds instead is a cruel world filled with greed and duplicity, though the movie does end on a somewhat uplifting note.
 

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Toho Company

#92. Throne of Blood (1957)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 38,827
Director(s): Akira Kurosawa
Featuring: Toshirô Mifune, Minoru Chiaki, Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura
Runtime: 110 min.

Setting Shakespeare's “Macbeth” in feudal Japan, this Kurosawa film follows a warrior and his ambitious wife as they plot to usurp the throne in Spider Web Castle. The movie blends elements of Japanese Noh drama with traditional Western themes, and endures as one of the most acclaimed Shakespeare adaptations ever committed to celluloid. 


 

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Esperanto Filmoj

#91. Roma (2018)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 42,099
Director(s): Alfonso Cuarón
Featuring: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta
Runtime: 135 min.

Alfonso Cuarón's critical darling was originally shot in color, then edited during post-production, resulting in a distinctive black and white palette. The film takes place in Mexico City in the early 1970s, and centers on the trials and tribulations of a maid as she works for an upper middle class family.  


 

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The Associates & Aldrich Company

#90. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 44,025
Director(s): Robert Aldrich
Featuring: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono, Wesley Addy
Runtime: 134 min.

The recent FX show “Feud” sparked a renewed interest in this legendary horror flick. The film stars Joan Crawford and Bette Davis as once-famous siblings who are now engaged in a bitter rivalry that turns more and more demented as the story progresses, mirroring the actresses' real-life discord.


 

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Casbah Film

#89. The Battle of Algiers (1966)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 46,327
Director(s): Gillo Pontecorvo
Featuring: Brahim Hadjadj, Jean Martin, Yacef Saadi, Tommaso Neri
Runtime: 121 min.

Based on a true story, this war drama depicts the Algerian Revolution from both the French and Algerian perspectives. Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo's documentary-like film is considered one of the most influential political movies of all time.

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Compagnie Industrielle et Commerciale Cinématographique (CICC)

#88. The Wages of Fear (1953)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 47,017
Director(s): Henri-Georges Clouzot
Featuring: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck, Folco Lulli
Runtime: 131 min.

This 1953 French thriller follows four desperate men as they transport a shipment of nitroglycerine through Latin America without proper safety equipment. In addition to its brutal action sequences, the work explores a range of anti-capitalist themes. Both this film and the book upon which it was based would later inspire the 1977 remake “Sorcerer.”

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Decla-Bioscop AG

#87. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 48,415
Director(s): Robert Wiene
Featuring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover
Runtime: 67 min.

One of the most famous German expressionist films ever made, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” emanates with creepy atmosphere and avant-garde style. It centers on a crazy hypnotist and his somnambulist companion, who enact a murder and a kidnapping in the shadowy village of Holstenwall. Not only is the work often pointed to as one of cinema's first cult classics, it retains a loyal following nearly 100 years after its release.

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The Samuel Goldwyn Company

#86. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 52,092
Director(s): William Wyler
Featuring: Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Fredric March, Teresa Wright
Runtime: 170 min.

Winner of seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture), this timeless drama chronicles the lives of three WWII veterans as they struggle to return to small-town society. Playing the role of Homer Parrish is real-life veteran Harold Russell, who lost both hands in the war.
 

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Ponti-De Laurentiis Cinematografica

#85. La Strada (1954)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 52,197
Director(s): Federico Fellini
Featuring: Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart, Aldo Silvani
Runtime: 108 min.

According to most cinephiles, Italian director Federico Fellini truly hit his stride with this 1954 drama. It tells the story of a traveling showman (Anthony Quinn) and his begrudging female captive (Giulietta Masina), who helps with his act. In 1957, it won the inaugural Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

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Universal Pictures

#84. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 52,622
Director(s): Lewis Milestone
Featuring: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray, Arnold Lucy
Runtime: 136 min.

Based on a popular German novel, this 1930 classic is considered the first major anti-war film of the sound era. When confronted with the brutalities of WWI, young German soldiers become disillusioned with the precepts of battle. The film won two Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
 

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Filmsonor

#83. Diabolique (1955)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 55,111
Director(s): Henri-Georges Clouzot
Featuring: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel
Runtime: 117 min.

In this gripping French thriller, the wife and the mistress of a cruel school headmaster join forces to murder him. The plot takes a turn for the worse when the headmaster's supposedly dead body goes missing, and people start seeing him around town. Nail-biting suspense ensues.

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Road Movies Filmproduktion

#82. Wings of Desire (1987)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 55,910
Director(s): Wim Wenders
Featuring: Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, Curt Bois
Runtime: 128 min.

Guardian angels hover over the city of Berlin in this romantic fantasy from 1987. When one of the angels falls in love with a mortal, he embarks on a quest to become human. Presented in black and white, the arthouse film offers an intimate glimpse of both the angels and the people they observe.  

21/
Riama Film

#81. La Dolce Vita (1960)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 57,657
Director(s): Federico Fellini
Featuring: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée, Yvonne Furneaux
Runtime: 174 min.

“La Dolce Vita," hailed as one of Federico Fellini's finest achievements, follows an amorous journalist (Marcello Mastroianni) and his well-heeled companions on various hedonistic adventures throughout Rome. Not only does the title endure in the cultural lexicon, but the words “paparazzi” and “Felliniesque” are likewise indebted to this singular work.  

22/
Paramount Pictures

#80. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 61,345
Director(s): John Ford
Featuring: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin
Runtime: 123 min.

One among many collaborations between director John Ford and actor John Wayne, this western drama takes place in the town of Shinbone. That's where Senator Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) once famously shot a ruthless outlaw known as Liberty Valance. Or did he?

23/
Twentieth Century Fox

#79. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 79,148
Director(s): John Ford
Featuring: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Charley Grapewin
Runtime: 129 min.

Grainy black and white footage brings the Depression era to life in this acclaimed adaptation of John Steinbeck's famous novel. It centers on the Joads, a poor family who move from Oklahoma to California after being forced off their land. Upon their arrival, the Joads realize that California is not the paradise they hoped it would be.  
 

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2.4.7. Films

#78. Persepolis (2007)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 80,501
Director(s): Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Featuring: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Gena Rowlands, Danielle Darrieux
Runtime: 96 min.

Employing brilliant black and white animation with touches of color, this biographical drama takes place during and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. At the heart of the story is a precocious girl named Marji, whose world is shattered by the new tyrannical regime. When she attends a boarding school in Vienna, Marji discovers an entirely new culture that's no easier to bear.

25/
Columbia Pictures Corporation

#77. It Happened One Night (1934)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 82,757
Director(s): Frank Capra
Featuring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns
Runtime: 105 min.

Director Frank Capra is more or less synonymous with feel-good cinema, and this screwball comedy duly abides. Upon fleeing from her new husband, a spoiled heiress (Claudette Colbert) crosses paths with a shameless out-of-work reporter (Clark Gable). What follows is one of the most iconic road trip movies of all time, with the record-setting Academy Awards to show for it.

26/
American International Pictures (AIP)

#76. Persona (1966)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 84,039
Director(s): Ingmar Bergman
Featuring: Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Margaretha Krook, Gunnar Björnstrand
Runtime: 83 min.

Exploring themes of identity, duality, and insanity, this surrealist drama opens with one of the most unforgettable sequences ever filmed in black and white. As the relationship between a nurse and her mute patient unfolds, the two women seemingly merge into one. Bergman's film would later inspire David Lynch's seminal masterpiece “Mulholland Drive.”

27/
Les Films du Carrosse

#75. The 400 Blows (1959)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 89,709
Director(s): François Truffaut
Featuring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier, Guy Decomble
Runtime: 99 min.

This 1959 classic from François Truffaut helped launch the French New Wave movement. It follows a troubled boy named Antoine Doinel as he delves into a life of petty crime after being neglected by his parents. Both the film and the broader movement dramatically influenced a slate of Hollywood directors, paving the way for new modes of artistic expression.

28/
Cineriz

#74. 8½ (1963)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 97,437
Director(s): Federico Fellini
Featuring: Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée, Claudia Cardinale, Sandra Milo
Runtime: 138 min.

Chronicling the misadventures of an overstressed director, "La Dolce Vita" weaves reality, memory, and fantasy together in a vivid tapestry. Everyone from Woody Allen to Terry Gilliam has cited this film as an influence on their work.

29/
Selznick International Pictures

#73. Rebecca (1940)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 108,432
Director(s): Alfred Hitchcock
Featuring: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson
Runtime: 130 min.

Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock has a bevy of black and white masterpieces to his name, including this award-winning romantic thriller. The movie finds a newlywed bride (Joan Fontaine) playing second fiddle to her husband's (Laurence Olivier) deceased wife, Rebecca. While trying to get out from under Rebecca's shadow, the bride discovers a dangerous secret.

30/
Paramount Pictures

#72. Roman Holiday

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 115,501
Director(s): William Wyler
Featuring: Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert, Hartley Power
Runtime: 118 min.

Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn gallivant around Rome in this celebrated romantic comedy, in which they play a American news reporter and royal princess, respectively. What starts as a relationship built on deception becomes something far more genuine as the chemistry builds.

31/
Canal+

#71. La Haine (1995)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 128,892
Director(s): Mathieu Kassovitz
Featuring: Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui, Abdel Ahmed Ghili
Runtime: 98 min.

Presented in gritty black and white, this intense drama follows three ethnically diverse men on the heels of a racially motivated riot. The action unravels over the course of 24 hours and takes place in the lower-income suburbs of Paris. When one of the men (Vincent Cassel) finds a policeman's handgun, the stakes reach a tipping point.  

32/
Warner Bros.

#70. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

IMDb user rating: 8.1
Votes: 137,590
Director(s): John Huston
Featuring: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre
Runtime: 100 min.

The big-screen adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's novel makes for one of cinema's most quintessential examples of film noir. It sees private detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) taking on the case of a missing woman. Before long, Spade is embroiled in a plot involving dangerous men, a duplicitous dame, and a priceless statuette.

33/
13 Productions

#69. Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 10,870
Director(s): Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky
Featuring: Lars Rudolph, Peter Fitz, Hanna Schygulla, János Derzsi
Runtime: 145 min.

Based on a novel, this surrealist mystery finds a small Hungarian village losing its collective mind when the circus rolls into town. The movie consists of just 39 shots, while the use of black and white reinforces its cinema verite style. Lurking just beneath the bizarre surface are meditations on chaos and capitalism, according to The Guardian writer Richard Williams.

34/
Paramount Pictures

#68. Trouble in Paradise (1932)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 11,442
Director(s): Ernst Lubitsch
Featuring: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall, Charles Ruggles
Runtime: 83 min.

An accomplished con man and a clever pickpocket team up in this comedic caper from 1932. As the pair tries to bilk a perfume company owner out of her riches, the man finds himself romantically torn between two women. Trouble in paradise, indeed.  

35/
Paramount Pictures

#67. The Heiress (1949)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 11,474
Director(s): William Wyler
Featuring: Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson, Miriam Hopkins
Runtime: 115 min.

Set in the mid-1800s, this film centers on a wealthy surgeon and his somewhat awkward daughter (Olivia de Havilland). When a handsome man (Montgomery Clift) expresses interest in the daughter, the surgeon wonders if there's a sinister plot afoot. Before it was an Academy Award-winning film, “The Heiress” was both a Henry James novel (called “Washington Square”) and a Broadway play.

36/
Newtown Productions

#66. A Face in the Crowd (1957)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 11,640
Director(s): Elia Kazan
Featuring: Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal, Anthony Franciosa, Walter Matthau
Runtime: 126 min.

Marking Andy Griffith's film debut, this 1957 drama follows Lonesome Rhodes (Griffith) as he goes from backwoods guitar-picker to overnight media sensation. It comes from director Elia Kazan, whose name is synonymous with a number of iconic black and white films. Popular figures such as Burl Ives, Faye Emerson, and Mike Wallace make cameos as themselves.

37/
Palladium Film

#65. Ordet (1955)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 11,871
Director(s): Carl Theodor Dreyer
Featuring: Henrik Malberg, Emil Hass Christensen, Preben Lerdorff Rye, Hanne Aagesen
Runtime: 126 min.

Religious convictions—or lack thereof—threaten to tear a family apart in this Danish masterpiece. The film is based on a play by Kaj Munk, a Lutheran priest and famous martyr who died at the hands of the Gestapo. It won director Carl Theodor Dreyer the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival.  

38/
Gaumont

#64. A Man Escaped (1956)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 15,483
Director(s): Robert Bresson
Featuring: François Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock, Roland Monod
Runtime: 101 min.

Based on the true story of Andre Devigny, this 1956 docudrama chronicles the imprisonment and escape of a French resistance fighter during WWII. Employing a realist style, director Robert Bresson confines most of the action to the prisoner's cell. He even shot much of the film in real-life prison cells.

39/
Hal Roach Studios

#63. Safety Last! (1923)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 15,844
Director(s): Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor
Featuring: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Bill Strother, Noah Young
Runtime: 70 min.

Harold Lloyd was among the biggest names in silent film, and this 1923 comedy contains one of the era's most iconic sequences. After a publicity stunt goes awry, Lloyd's character ends up hanging from a clock near the top of a skyscraper. As if taking the movie's title to heart, Lloyd performed the famous stunt using only eight fingers.

40/
Daiei Studios

#62. Ugetsu (1953)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 17,415
Director(s): Kenji Mizoguchi
Featuring: Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyô, Kinuyo Tanaka, Mitsuko Mito
Runtime: 96 min.

Director Kenji Mizoguchi was a living legend by the time he made this epic fantasy drama. Set during the Japanese civil wars of the 16th century, the movie chronicles the trials and tribulations of two provincial neighbors. As one of the men struggles to survive, he brushes up against a seductive spirit with deadly intentions.  

41/
Unión Industrial Cinematográfica (UNINCI)

#61. Viridiana (1961)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 19,234
Director(s): Luis Buñuel
Featuring: Silvia Pinal, Francisco Rabal, Fernando Rey, José Calvo
Runtime: 90 min.

Spanish surrealist Luis Buñuel co-wrote and directed this comedy-drama, which was loosely based on a novel. In the film, a young nun visits her widowed uncle before taking her final vows. When the uncle notices how much the nun resembles his deceased wife, he attempts to seduce her to tragic results.   

42/
Rizzoli Film

#60. Umberto D. (1952)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 19,660
Director(s): Vittorio De Sica
Featuring: Carlo Battisti, Maria Pia Casilio, Lina Gennari, Ileana Simova
Runtime: 89 min.

Depicting the brutal realities of post-war Italy, this drama follows an elderly Roman man and his dog as they struggle to survive on a government pension. Finding himself alone in a bleak and modern world, the man tries to retain a sense of personal dignity while attending to his most basic needs. It's all presented by Italian neorealist filmmaker Vittorio De Sica with documentary-like authenticity.

43/
Pathé Consortium Cinéma

#59. Rififi (1955)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 22,301
Director(s): Jules Dassin
Featuring: Jean Servais, Carl Möhner, Robert Manuel, Janine Darcey
Runtime: 118 min.

Long before “Baby Driver” and “Reservoir Dogs,” there was this heralded heist film. Four men team up to execute what appears to be a perfect crime, but human foibles threaten to tear the whole thing apart. More than a genre milestone, the film actually inspired copycat crimes in real life.

44/
Romaine Film Corporation

#58. To Be or Not to Be (1942)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 22,700
Director(s): Ernst Lubitsch
Featuring: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack, Felix Bressart
Runtime: 99 min.

The Nazi occupation of Poland might not sound like the stuff of comedy gold, but director Ernst Lubitsch makes it work in this 1942 satire. After their theater company gets shut down by the Nazis, a troupe of stage actors become unlikely operatives for the resistance. Using their collective wit and questionable talent, the troupe prevents a spy from handing vital information over to the Germans.

45/
Paramount Pictures

#57. Ace in the Hole (1951)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 23,641
Director(s): Billy Wilder
Featuring: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur, Porter Hall
Runtime: 111 min.

A critical and commercial disaster upon its release, this 1951 drama is now regarded as one of Billy Wilder's most poignant and timeless efforts. Kirk Douglas stars as struggling reporter Chuck Tatum, who exploits the story of a man trapped in a cave for personal gain. In order to stay ahead of the subsequent media storm, Tatum ends up taking dangerous measures.

46/
Norma Productions

#56. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 23,725
Director(s): Alexander Mackendrick
Featuring: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner
Runtime: 96 min.

This cynical and stylish drama takes place in the dog-eat-dog world of New York tabloid journalism. Burt Lancaster plays a powerful Broadway columnist named J.J. Hunsecker, who will do whatever it takes to prevent his sister from marrying a jazz musician. It's another movie that initially tanked with audiences and critics, but has since been reappraised as a bonafide masterpiece.

47/
Stanley Kramer Productions

#55. Inherit the Wind (1960)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 23,885
Director(s): Stanley Kramer
Featuring: Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly, Dick York
Runtime: 128 min.

Based on the true story of the Scopes Monkey Trial, this Broadway play-turned-film includes lines lifted out of the actual courtroom transcripts. When a teacher is accused of teaching evolution to his class, two lawyers square off in a battle of science versus religion. Both the film and the play are also regarded as thinly veiled attacks on 1950s McCarthyism.

48/
Warner Bros.

#54. White Heat (1949)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 23,968
Director(s): Raoul Walsh
Featuring: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien, Margaret Wycherly
Runtime: 114 min.

Hollywood icon James Cagney plays a psychopathic criminal with mommy issues in this 1949 crime drama. After breaking out of prison, Cagney's character leads his old gang on a dangerous chemical plant heist. It all paves the way for an unexpected ending of near-mythic proportion.

49/
Barcino Films S.A.

#53. The Exterminating Angel (1962)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 24,111
Director(s): Luis Buñuel
Featuring: Silvia Pinal, Jacqueline Andere, Enrique Rambal, José Baviera
Runtime: 95 min.

One of the most well-known surrealist films of all time, this black (and white) comedy finds a group of upper-class adults unable to leave a swanky dinner party. As the bizarre conundrum plays itself out over multiple days, the persona of each guest starts to break down to the point of total collapse. Brimming with wicked satire, the movie reduces its elitist characters to animal behavior.  

50/
Buster Keaton Productions

#52. Sherlock Jr. (1924)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 31,300
Director(s): Buster Keaton
Featuring: Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton, Erwin Connelly
Runtime: 45 min.

A king of the silent era, Buster Keaton enters the list with this 1924 action comedy. It stars Keaton as a lowly projectionist with big dreams of being a detective. After his girlfriend's pocket watch is stolen, the projectionist gets to put his amateur skills to work.

51/
Mosfilm

#51. Andrei Rublev (1966)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 37,222
Director(s): Andrei Tarkovsky
Featuring: Anatoliy Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolai Grinko, Nikolay Sergeev
Runtime: 205 min

Master filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky loosely chronicles the life of 15th-century icon painter Andrei Rublev in this arthouse drama. Exploring themes of artistic freedom and religious faith amidst a turbulent backdrop, the movie plays out in a series of dreamlike sequences. Due to its negative political undertones, the film was censored in Russia for more than two decades.

52/
Société générale des films

#50. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 39,215
Director(s): Carl Theodor Dreyer
Featuring: Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley, Maurice Schutz
Runtime: 114 min.

Between its black and white palette, candid lighting, and overabundance of closeups, this historical drama delivers a profound sense of intimacy. It takes place in 1431, and depicts the trial of Jeanne d'Arc, charged with heresy. Most critics agree this is one of the silent era's greatest masterpieces.

53/
Fox Film Corporation

#49. Sunrise (1927)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 41,968
Director(s): F.W. Murnau
Featuring: George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston, Bodil Rosing
Runtime: 94 min.

A man's inner struggles are turned to flesh in this black and white allegory, which is subtitled “A Song of Two Humans.” Manifesting the lures of temptation is a "woman from the city," who tries to convince the man to murder his wife. Which side will he choose?

54/
Shôchiku Eiga

#48. Tokyo Story (1953)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 42,069
Director(s): Yasujirô Ozu
Featuring: Chishû Ryû, Chieko Higashiyama, Sô Yamamura, Setsuko Hara
Runtime: 136 min.

Delivered in a plain and effective style, this acclaimed Japanese drama explores themes of generational conflict in postwar Japan. It follows a provincial couple as they visit their children in bustling Tokyo, only to be treated as a burden. The movie ranks at #3 on BFI's list of The 50 Greatest Films of All Time.

55/
Roxlom Films Inc.

#47. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 60,054
Director(s): Stanley Kramer
Featuring: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich
Runtime: 186 min.

Four German judges and prosecutors are charged with crimes against humanity for helping the Nazis during WWII. As both German and Allied governments try to leave the past behind, Chief Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) must grapple with the trial's broader geopolitical ramifications. Based on a true story, this harrowing drama won two Academy Awards.

56/
Buster Keaton Productions

#46. The General (1926)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 69,914
Director(s): Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton
Featuring: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Jim Farley
Runtime: 67 min.

Buster Keaton co-wrote, co-directed, and stars in this acclaimed silent film, which takes place during the Civil War. Inspired by actual events, the movie puts Keaton on the trail of a runaway train. The action culminates with one of the era's most iconic and expensive stunts.

57/
Svensk Filmindustri (SF)

#45. Wild Strawberries (1957)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 81,879
Director(s): Ingmar Bergman
Featuring: Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand
Runtime: 91 min.

Ingmar Bergman was in the hospital with poor health when he wrote this renowned drama about an aging professor who grapples with his own mortality. The film was inspired by the Swedish director's personal memories and fears

58/
Charles Chaplin Productions

#44. The Gold Rush (1925)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 87,246
Director(s): Charles Chaplin
Featuring: Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Tom Murray, Henry Bergman
Runtime: 95 min.

Silent movie legend Charlie Chaplin heads to the Klondike in this adventure comedy. While hunting for gold, Chaplin's character encounters angry locals and a sweetheart named Georgia. Despite its comedic overtones, the film was loosely inspired by the Donner party disaster and other dramatic events.

59/
Columbia Pictures Corporation

#43. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 96,226
Director(s): Frank Capra
Featuring: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Edward Arnold
Runtime: 129 min.

After being appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate, Mr. Smith (James Stewart) goes to Washington in this Frank Capra film of the same name. There, he quite literally holds his ground against a tide of greed and corruption. Nominated for numerous Academy Awards, this is the film that established James Stewart as a veritable leading man.

60/
Warner Bros.

#42. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 99,366
Director(s): John Huston
Featuring: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett
Runtime: 126 min.

The ultimate tale of greed-fueled paranoia, this 1948 classic stars screen legend Humphrey Bogart as a down-on-his-luck man named Fred Dobbs. With help from two other men, Dobbs searches for buried gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains. When he miraculously finds what he's looking for, Dobbs begins to suspect that his two partners are plotting against him.

61/
Horizon Pictures

#41. On the Waterfront (1954)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 125,806
Director(s): Elia Kazan
Featuring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger
Runtime: 108 min.

Marlon Brando shines as ex-prize fighter Terry Malloy in this Oscar-winning drama from Elia Kazan. Upon taking a job as a longshoreman, Malloy squares off against a corrupt union boss. Kazan would draw parallels between this film and his own testimony during the McCarthy era, though screenwriter Budd Schulberg insists the work is strictly about the struggles of longshoremen.

62/
Svensk Filmindustri (SF)

#40. The Seventh Seal (1957)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 139,651
Director(s): Ingmar Bergman
Featuring: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot, Nils Poppe
Runtime: 96 min.

Ingmar Bergman asks the big questions in this acclaimed black and white drama, which takes place in medieval Sweden during the Black Plague. As disease sweeps through the countryside, various people resort to extreme and desperate behavior. Meanwhile, a knight engages in a high-stakes chess match with Death himself.

63/
London Film Productions

#39. The Third Man (1949)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 140,197
Director(s): Carol Reed
Featuring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Trevor Howard
Runtime: 93 min

What begins as a trip to postwar Vienna becomes something far more sinister in this classic film noir. As a struggling novelist tries to find out why his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) was killed, he uncovers a much broader conspiracy. 

64/
Brooksfilms

#38. The Elephant Man (1980)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 196,203
Director(s): David Lynch
Featuring: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud
Runtime: 124 min

“Black and white immediately takes you out of the real world,” director David Lynch would later say of this 1980 biopic. Adapted from a play about Joseph “John” Merrick, the movie portrays the constant struggles of its disfigured main character during the Victorian era. To make ends meet, this man of considerable sensitivity and intelligence must tragically survive as a sideshow exhibit.

65/
Chartoff-Winkler Productions

#37. Raging Bull (1980)

IMDb user rating: 8.2
Votes: 280,971
Director(s): Martin Scorsese
Featuring: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent
Runtime: 129 min.

Director Martin Scorsese's second black and white effort is also one of his best. Based on the true story of boxer Jake LaMotta (played by Robert De Niro), “Raging Bull” pulls no punches in its depiction of LaMotta's brutish behavior. The real Jake LaMotta once asked his wife if he was really as abusive as the movie suggested, to which she replied, “You were worse.”

66/
Shôchiku Eiga

#36. Late Spring (1949)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 11,682
Director(s): Yasujirô Ozu
Featuring: Chishû Ryû, Setsuko Hara, Yumeji Tsukioka, Haruko Sugimura
Runtime: 108 min.

A Japanese woman (Setsuko Hara) delays marriage to take care of her father in this drama from Yasujirô Ozu. Tangentially explored are the shifting roles of women within a rapidly changing society. Based on a novel, the movie marks the first installment of Ozu's “Noriko Trilogy,” throughout which Hara plays three different women named Noriko.

67/
Mosfilm

#35. The Cranes Are Flying (1957)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 12,549
Director(s): Mikhail Kalatozov
Featuring: Tatyana Samoylova, Aleksey Batalov, Vasili Merkuryev, Aleksandr Shvorin
Runtime: 95 min.

Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, this gripping drama depicts the unbreakable romance between Veronica and Boris. After the two lovers pledge their hearts to one another under a sky of cranes, Boris is drafted to fight in WWII. What follows is an examination on the brutality of war and the power of devotion.

68/
Titanus

#34. Rocco and His Brothers (1960)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 13,887
Director(s): Luchino Visconti
Featuring: Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot, Claudia Cardinale
Runtime: 177 min.

Upon moving to Milan from a rural area, five brothers struggle to adapt to big city life in this three-hour saga. When two of the brothers fall in love with the same woman, their rivalry threatens to tear the family apart. The film was helmed by Luchino Visconti, a seminal figure in the Italian neorealist movement.

69/
Kurosawa Production Co.

#33. Red Beard (1965)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 13,957
Director(s): Akira Kurosawa
Featuring: Toshirô Mifune, Yûzô Kayama, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Reiko Dan
Runtime: 185 min.

Culling from a short story collection by Shūgorō Yamamoto as well as a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky, this Japanese drama centers on the relationship between an honorable doctor and his arrogant new intern. As the two mean deal with a variety of difficult cases, the lives of their patients are explored in episodic fashion.

70/
Ultramar Films

#32. The Young and the Damned (1950)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 15,641
Director(s): Luis Buñuel
Featuring: Alfonso Mejía, Roberto Cobo, Estela Inda, Miguel Inclán
Runtime: 80 min.

Set in the slums of Mexico City, Luis Buñuel's gritty Mexican drama reunites reform-school runaway El Jaibo with his former gang. Determined to get revenge on the man who sent him away, El Jaibo embarks on a ruthless crime spree. In the process, a young man named Pedro becomes corrupted by the violence around him.  

71/
Société Nouvelle Pathé Cinéma

#31. Children of Paradise (1945)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 16,453
Director(s): Marcel Carné
Featuring: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Pierre Renoir
Runtime: 189 min.

Often referred to as France's answer to “Gone With the Wind,” this sweeping melodrama explores the harrowing pain of unrequited love. At the heart of the story is a beautiful courtesan named Garance, who must fend off four potential suitors. Set in Paris in the 1830s, the film takes place over the course of several years.  

72/
Toho Company

#30. Ikiru (1952)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 56,998
Director(s): Akira Kurosawa
Featuring: Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko, Shin'ichi Himori, Haruo Tanaka
Runtime: 143 min.

After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, a civil servant searches for the meaning of life in Kurosawa's meditative masterpiece. Divided into two parts, the story achieves affirmation and compassion through desperation. It's only when the man is confronted with death that he can truly live for the first time.

73/
Charles Chaplin Productions

#29. The Kid (1921)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 92,820
Director(s): Charles Chaplin
Featuring: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Jackie Coogan, Carl Miller
Runtime: 68 min.

Charlie Chaplin's first feature-length film centers on his bumbling alter-ego, The Tramp. After taking an abandoned baby under his wing, The Tramp attempts to keep the child against all odds. Blending signature comedy with palpable emotion, the film is often regarded as Chaplin's most personal effort.

74/
Kurosawa Production Co.

#28. Yojimbo (1961)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 94,176
Director(s): Akira Kurosawa
Featuring: Toshirô Mifune, Eijirô Tôno, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yôko Tsukasa
Runtime: 110 min.

In this Japanese samurai film, a crafty ronin manipulates the war between two clans in hopes of eradicating them both. Straddling multiple genres, the black and white film inspired two subsequent remakes. One was Sergio Leone's acclaimed 1964 western “A Fistful of Dollars.”

75/
Produzioni De Sica (PDS)

#27. Bicycle Thieves (1948)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 122,505
Director(s): Vittorio De Sica
Featuring: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell, Elena Altieri
Runtime: 89 min.

Set in post-WWII Italy, Vittorio De Sica's simple film follows a working-class man and his son as they track down a stolen bicycle. Should the man fail to retrieve his bike, he won't be able to earn a living. 

76/
Paramount Pictures

#26. Double Indemnity (1944)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 123,685
Director(s): Billy Wilder
Featuring: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Byron Barr
Runtime: 107 min.

Ripped straight from the pages of a James M. Cain novel is this classic film noir from Billy Wilder. It stars Fred MacMurray as insurance salesman Walter Neff, who gets lured into a murderous scheme by his client's seductive wife (Barbara Stanwyck). 

77/
Nero-Film AG

#25. M (1931)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 123,829
Director(s): Fritz Lang
Featuring: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut, Otto Wernicke
Runtime: 99 min.

While this German thriller from Fritz Lang wasn't the first serial killer movie ever made, it's easily among the most influential. As he whistles a classical tune, a man named Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) preys upon unsuspecting children in Berlin. After the police come up empty-handed, local criminals get in on the manhunt.  

78/
Daiei Motion Picture Company

#24. Rashomon (1950)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 130,059
Director(s): Akira Kurosawa
Featuring: Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura
Runtime: 88 min.

This Akira Kurosawa drama was so groundbreaking that it has an entire concept named after it, known as “the Rashomon effect.” The film presents a gruesome crime from multiple perspectives, prompting viewers to wonder which version is the truth. It would influence a broad range of popular films over the following decades.

79/
The Mirisch Corporation

#23. The Apartment (1960)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 139,142
Director(s): Billy Wilder
Featuring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston
Runtime: 125 min.

In this dark romantic comedy, C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) lends his apartment to various executives for their extramarital trysts. As a direct result of his actions, Baxter quickly ascends the corporate ladder. But what happens when one of the executives wants to take Baxter's crush (Shirley MacLaine) to the apartment for a roll in the proverbial hay?

80/
Universum Film (UFA)

#22. Metropolis (1927)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 139,236
Director(s): Fritz Lang
Featuring: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Runtime: 153 min.

More than 90 years later, the concepts and themes laid out in Fritz Lang's “Metropolis” still resonate in entertainment and society alike. The film takes place in a futuristic city, where elitists run free as laborers toil underground. When an architect's son falls in love with a working-class girl, it paves the way for a revolution.

81/
Universal International Pictures (UI)

#21. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

IMDb user rating: 8.3
Votes: 265,149
Director(s): Robert Mulligan
Featuring: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton, Rosemary Murphy
Runtime: 129 min.

When adapting Harper Lee's timeless novel, director Robert Mulligan opted to shoot in black and white for a number of reasons. One was to remind viewers that the content was meant to be taken seriously, and not merely as a piece of entertainment. Given that the story deals with racial divides in the Depression-era South, the use of black and white also turns back the clock while emphasizing local prejudices.

82/
Daiei Studios

#20. Sansho the Bailiff (1954)

IMDb user rating: 8.4
Votes: 12,206
Director(s): Kenji Mizoguchi
Featuring: Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi, Kyôko Kagawa, Eitarô Shindô
Runtime: 124 min.

Based on a short story and a popular folk tale before it, this film takes place in medieval Japan. Years after an idealistic governor is banished to a far-off land, his family sets out to find him. Consisting of elaborate long shots, the award-winning film serves as a testament to the power of human perseverance in the face of numerous obstacles.  

83/
Kurosawa Production Co.

#19. High and Low (1963)

IMDb user rating: 8.4
Votes: 22,971
Director(s): Akira Kurosawa
Featuring: Toshirô Mifune, Yutaka Sada, Tatsuya Nakadai, Kyôko Kagawa
Runtime: 143 min.

Akira Kurosawa continues to dominate the list with this gripping 1963 procedural. It finds an ambitious shoe company executive battling for corporate control while concurrently dealing with the kidnapping of his chauffeur's son. Applying some cold and calculated risk analysis, the executive must ultimately choose between the life of a company and that of a child.

84/
Edward Small Productions

#18. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

IMDb user rating: 8.4
Votes: 88,152
Director(s): Billy Wilder
Featuring: Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester
Runtime: 116 min.

Based on an Agatha Christie play of the same name, this intense courtroom drama incorporates elements of classic film noir. In the film, a sickly British barrister defends an American war veteran who's been accused of murder. After a series of unexpected surprises, the barrister realizes that nothing is what it seems.

85/
Bryna Productions

#17. Paths of Glory (1957)

IMDb user rating: 8.4
Votes: 151,438
Director(s): Stanley Kubrick
Featuring: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready
Runtime: 88 min.

Stanley Kubrick's first (anti-)war film is a stunning treatise on hypocrisy and dehumanization. It takes place during WWI and stars Kirk Douglas as a unit commander in the French army. After the commander's men refuse to follow the orders of their superiors, he must defend them against the charge of cowardice in a court-martial.   

86/
Paramount Pictures

#16. Sunset Boulevard (1950)

IMDb user rating: 8.4
Votes: 173,871
Director(s): Billy Wilder
Featuring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson
Runtime: 110 min.

“Sunset Boulevard” centers on the fraught relationship between a Hollywood screenwriter and a faded starlet from the silent era. Speaking of the silent era, look for a cameo from screen legend Buster Keaton.

87/
RKO Radio Pictures

#15. Citizen Kane (1941)

IMDb user rating: 8.4
Votes: 355,238
Director(s): Orson Welles
Featuring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead
Runtime: 119 min.

More than one of the best black and white films of all time, Orson Welles' timeless classic is also considered one of the best movies ever made. It chronicles the rise of newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, whose thirst for power seems unquenchable. Something of a commercial failure upon its release, the film is now universally acclaimed.

88/
Columbia Pictures Corporation

#14. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

IMDb user rating: 8.4
Votes: 405,715
Director(s): Stanley Kubrick
Featuring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn
Runtime: 95 min

Dark comedies don't get much darker than this one from Stanley Kubrick. Starring Peter Sellers in multiple roles, the film depicts the end of the world by way of nuclear holocaust.

89/
Filmsonor

#13. Le Trou (1960)

IMDb user rating: 8.5
Votes: 12,334
Director(s): Jacques Becker
Featuring: André Bervil, Jean Keraudy, Michel Constantin, Philippe Leroy
Runtime: 131 min.

Facing long prison sentences, four cellmates plot their escape in this taut French thriller. When a fifth inmate gets in on the scheme, the others wonder if they can trust the newcomer. One critic called this “the last great flowering of French classicism.”

90/
Toho Film (Eiga) Co. Ltd.

#12. Woman in the Dunes (1964)

IMDb user rating: 8.5
Votes: 14,326
Director(s): Hiroshi Teshigahara
Featuring: Eiji Okada, Kyôko Kishida, Hiroko Itô, Kôji Mitsui
Runtime: 123 min.

This arthouse flick hails from Japan, and features a distinctive surrealist style. It follows an entomologist as he spends the night with a young widow at the bottom of a sand dune. What ensues is a gripping sexual encounter rife with dangerous undertones.  

91/
Government of West Bengal

#11. Pather Panchali (1955)

IMDb user rating: 8.5
Votes: 18,505
Director(s): Satyajit Ray
Featuring: Kanu Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee, Subir Banerjee, Chunibala Devi
Runtime: 125 min.

Representing the debut film from Indian director Satyajit Ray, this low-budget drama kicks off what later became known as the “Apu Trilogy.” Set in the 1910s, the film depicts the struggles of young Apu and his impoverished family in a small Indian village. Sitar player Ravi Shankar provided the music.  

92/
Charles Chaplin Productions

#10. City Lights (1931)

IMDb user rating: 8.5
Votes: 141,590
Director(s): Charles Chaplin
Featuring: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers
Runtime: 87 min.

The Tramp is back in this 1931 classic from Charlie Chaplin. To raise money for the blind girl he loves, The Tramp resorts to all sorts of desperate and comedic measures. Talkies were proliferating at the time, but Chaplin stuck to his silent era roots.

93/
Charles Chaplin Productions

#9. The Great Dictator (1940)

IMDb user rating: 8.5
Votes: 174,835
Director(s): Charles Chaplin
Featuring: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner
Runtime: 125 min.

Chaplin didn't miss a beat when he transitioned into the all-talking format. The result was this 1940 satire, in which he tackles the dual roles of a ruthless dictator (who resembles Adolf Hitler) and a Jewish barber. Predictably, the movie was not shown in Germany during its initial run.  

94/
Charles Chaplin Productions

#8. Modern Times (1936)

IMDb user rating: 8.5
Votes: 183,790
Director(s): Charles Chaplin
Featuring: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford
Runtime: 87 min

Skewering the industrial era, this 1936 comedy finds The Tramp trying to make ends meet in a modern world. Though it contains snippets of sound, the black and white film is largely a silent affair. Featured in the movie is one of cinema's most iconic gags, in which Chaplin slithers his way through the gears of a large machine.

95/
Warner Bros.

#7. Casablanca (1942)

IMDb user rating: 8.5
Votes: 464,304
Director(s): Michael Curtiz
Featuring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains
Runtime: 102 min.

A perfect script comes to life in this black and white masterpiece, which takes place during the early stages of WWII. Humphrey Bogart stars as nightclub owner Rick Blaine, who lives in Morocco and "sticks [his] neck out for nobody." When a former flame comes seeking help, it sends Blaine into a world of trouble.  

96/
Shamley Productions

#6. Psycho (1960)

IMDb user rating: 8.5
Votes: 520,855
Director(s): Alfred Hitchcock
Featuring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin
Runtime: 109 min.

Alfred Hitchcock had been filming in color for years by the time he unleashed this seminal black and white thriller about serial killer Norman Bates. Reportedly, the director felt the infamous shower scene might be too much for audiences to bear if it were shown in color. They freaked out anyway.  

97/
Liberty Films (II)

#5. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

IMDb user rating: 8.6
Votes: 346,878
Director(s): Frank Capra
Featuring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell
Runtime: 130 min.

If one can believe it, this heartwarming holiday film was originally a commercial disappointment. Only after repeat TV screenings in the 1970s did the movie become the Christmas staple it is today. James Stewart stars as frustrated businessman George Bailey, who is shown what life would have been like had he never existed.

98/
Shôchiku Eiga

#4. Harakiri (1962)

IMDb user rating: 8.7
Votes: 23,607
Director(s): Masaki Kobayashi
Featuring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita, Tetsurô Tanba
Runtime: 133 min.

It's hard out there for a samurai in this 1962 Japanese drama from Masaki Kobayashi. The movie takes place during a time of peace in the 17th century, when thousands of samurai were out of work. An elder ronin tells the story of his son-in-law while grappling with the samurai code, which obliges him to commit hara-kiri (ritual suicide) rather than live in poverty.

99/
Toho Company

#3. Seven Samurai (1954)

IMDb user rating: 8.7
Votes: 275,789
Director(s): Akira Kurosawa
Featuring: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima, Yukiko Shimazaki
Runtime: 207 min.

Akira Kurosawa's timeless tale of a small village under attack and the seven men hired to protect it has paved the way for a slew of adaptations. Meanwhile, the original is a black and white masterpiece unto itself. It currently holds the #17 spot on BFI's list of The 50 Greatest Films of All Time.  

100/
Orion-Nova Productions

#2. 12 Angry Men (1957)

IMDb user rating: 8.9
Votes: 573,303
Director(s): Sidney Lumet
Featuring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler
Runtime: 96 min.

The fate of a suspected murderer is in the hands of 12 angry jurors, only one of whom thinks he may not be guilty. Can Juror 8 (Henry Fonda) convince the others that this case isn't as open and shut as it seems? Set almost entirely inside the jury room, this taut drama's black and white palette intensifies an overarching sense of claustrophobia and urgency.

101/
Universal Pictures

#1. Schindler's List (1993)

IMDb user rating: 8.9
Votes: 1,053,733
Director(s): Steven Spielberg
Featuring: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall
Runtime: 195 min

When asked why he shot this award-winning film in black and white, director Steven Spielberg explained that he'd never actually seen Holocaust footage in color. The artistic decision gives the movie a palpable degree of authenticity, telling the true story of one man (Liam Neeson) who saves over a thousand Jews from execution during WWII. 

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