Skip to main content

9 Classic Black and White Movies You Should Watch


Cinema is an art that has not stopped evolving since its creation. Especially in the last decades, technologic advances have supported its growth and have allowed the quality of the films to improve greatly. In spite of that, the good quality of a movie does not necessarily make it a classic.
Nowadays, cinema needs to be at the height of public very difficult to satisfy, a public that is familiar with technology and the way of telling stories, something that makes it more critical of which it consumes. This makes the business of film easier and more difficult at the same time. Which public expects today is easy and fast entertainment, something that is not complicated to follow and where the action happens quickly, not giving place to a second of boredom.
It is because of this that most of the times classic cinema is left aside as something out of fashion, something that no longer has a place in the world of the big special effects, forgetting that many of those films set the bases for the industry of cinema to be what it is today. They are movies that did not count with the same quantity and quality of resources that most minor movies have nowadays, but they did not need it to make themselves a place in history. Some of them did not even need color! It is about some of those that I am going to speak. Before starting, yes, I am fond of Ingrid Bergman, of Hitchcock and the combination of both.

Top Hat (1935)

Jerry Travers, the famous dancer, comes to London to be the star of a show produced by his friend Horace Hardwick. There he meets Dale Tremont, a beautiful woman who is staying at the same hotel, and he falls in love with her. A silly confusion will make Dale think that this man that fancies her so much (An to which she feels attracted) is Horace Hardwick, her friend's husband. Indignant, she will do her best to make clear how disgusted she is with him, but Travers, unaware of the situation and not used to give up, will find in every rejection a reason to keep trying to win her heart. The misunderstanding leads the characters to all kind of ridiculous situations. I know I have already recommended this one, but it fits so well in this list as well that I could not help it.

The Awful Truth (1937)

In this acclaimed comedy, Irene Dunne and Cary Grant portray a married couple who are lead to divorce by a silly misunderstanding. There is still a month until their divorce is effective, so in the meantime, both husband and wife will make the impossible for one another to have no chance at love with anybody else. This situation will constantly bring them together, and of course, make themselves wonder if being apart is what they really want.

Casablanca (1942)

During the '40s, and as a consequence of the Second World War, Casablanca was the city to where so many victims of the Nazis went to. Getting out of there was nearly impossible, especially if your name was on the Gestapo lists. In this context, the protagonist, who owns a nightclub in the city has to decide whether or not to help his former lover and her husband, a fugitive, to escape. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman star in this complicated and heartbreaking love story acclaimed by generations.

Spellbound (1945)

Constance Peterson is a young psychoanalyst who works at Green Manor, a mental institution. Completely compromised with her job, Constance is usually seen as cold and insensitive by her male colleagues, who never manage to get her attention. The arrival of Dr. Edwardes, the new director of the institution and of whom Constance will fall in love with, will change everything. The doctor’s strange behavior will call his colleagues attention, and make Constance discover that the young man not only is not Dr. Edwardes, but he does not remember who he is or where he came from. He only has one certainty: He is the murderer of the real Dr.Edwardes. Constance will try to prove the innocence of the man she loves using her knowledge on the psychoanalysis to rebuild his memories.

Notorious (1946)

Alicia Huberman, daughter of a Nazi spy who has been put into prison for treason, is convocated by an agent of the American government, Devlin, to get infiltrated in a Nazi organization set in Brazil. While they wait for instructions in Rio de Janeiro, Alicia and Devlin fall in love. Their relationship gets complicated when it is revealed that Alicia's mission will consist of seducing one of the most important members of the group to obtain information. Starring Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant.

Scroll to Continue

All about Eve (1950)

Margo Channing, a veteran theatre actress, feels very flattered when she meets Eve Harrington, a young girl with a tragic past who is her biggest fan. Eve's shy and kind nature recommend her to Margo, who will make the girl her personal assistant and take her to live at her house. There will not be long until Margo discovers that under that mask of innocence, Eve is a cold and calculative woman, who will do what it takes to get what she wants: Margo's fame and influence. With excellent performances, especially when it comes to the female characters, this film portrays envy and ambition in a very powerful and believable way.

Psyco (1960)

Trying to escape from a life of unhappiness, a woman steals an important sum of money and runs away from her home. The stormy night makes her stop at the Bates’ motel, where she is received by its owner and manager, a strange man who has a particular relationship with his mother. That same night, the protagonist is murdered in her room. In the meantime, her lover, allied with the sister of the victim and a detective, will make everything to find her. All the clues will lead them to the Bates’ motel, and to discover the dark secret hidden beneath its walls.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

This adaptation of Henry Farrell’s novel marks the brief return to the success of two great actresses: Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. The movie is about the conflictive relationship between the sisters Jane and Blanche. The first had a period of fame during her childhood when she was known as “Baby Jane”. All this made Jane be her father’s favorite, pushing Blanche aside for not being famous. Through the years it is Blanche who manages to get herself an important career as an actress, while Jane begins to be forgotten by the public. And she blames her older sister for this. It is in the best moment of Blanche’s career that she suffers a strange accident that left her invalid. Years later, both sisters, now middle-aged women, live together. Jane’s mental health, clearly deteriorated, pushes her to try to recover her artistic career at any cost, a process that will get disagreeable consequences to Blanche.

Lolita (1962)

The famous novel written by Vladimir Nabokov is brought to the screen by director Stanley Kubrick. The story of a man's obsession with a twelve-year-old girl has become a classic, and in this adaptation, the screenplay is written by Nabokov himself. Controversial at the time of its release, many provocative aspects of the original novel had to be modified due to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) restrictions. One example of this is the change in Lolita's age: In the novel, she is twelve and a half, while in the movie she is portrayed as a girl in her early teens. The critics gave it mixed reviews at the time, but today it is considered one of the best films ever made.

© 2019 Literarycreature


Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on October 06, 2020:

Thank you do much for this list.

Related Articles