Top Five Black and Movies

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

This week, we listened to you, and focus this week’s episode on the Top Five Black and White Movies! We know Peter Lorre is on the list, but what about Orson Welles? Did Humphrey Bogart make it, or not?


Direct Download

Contact us at

Contact us at

A big Thank You goes out to everyone who downloads, subscribes, listens, and supports this show. We really appreciate you taking the time to listen to our ramblings each week. Tell your friends about the podcast, get them to subscribe and, be sure to visit the Major Spoilers site and forums.


About Author

Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to the Robot Overlord. Robot Overlord may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds. The Robot Overlord contains a liquid core, which if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at. If Robot Overlord begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head. Do not taunt the Robot Overlord.


  1. This is sort of a tricky one for me, since I haven’t really seen a whole lot of black and white movies, but here’s a quick stab at a list at least.

    5. Skenbart – En film om tåg (tl: Seemingly – A film about trains. Yeah, the pun doesn’t really translate well. Known internationally as Illusive Tracks, it seems.)
    A wonderfully silly swedish movie about a to say the least interesting train ride in December of 1945 boud from Stockholm to Berlin. Much of the the people who defined swedish humor in the 1980’s (and in some cases since before then) all appear and the film has a delightful hint of black comedy all the way through. Not the best movie of all time, but good fun and a throwback to some really good 80’s swedish humor.

    4. The Seventh Seal
    I was expecting a drastically slower and heavier film, being a Bergman film and all, but it surprised me with terrific timing between the actors and genuinely warm scenes. Don’t get me wrong though, there is the heavier more thought provoking stuff there also, but it was much eeasier of a watch then I expected. I also find the medieval setting visually and thematically compelling. It would probably rank higher on my list if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve never actually seen it the whole way through since things have gotten in the way. One of these days though.

    3. Young Frankenstein
    Pretty much everything you mentioned in the episode. There are just so many funny moments and quotes that spring into my mind so often that I can’t justify keeping it off my list. (“Yes! Yes! Say it! HE VAS MY BOYFRIEND!”)

    2. Psycho
    Now where to begin here, there are just so many elements that makes Hitchcocks Psycho such a compelling film. The actors are fantastic, the sudden change in the story when Janet Leigh as Marion Crane pulls into the Bates Motel is somehow still effective even when you already know that the famous shower seen will be coming up (or maybe even more because of it?), there is a since of dread hanging over the entire film and the very last scene… it’s perhaps more cognitive horror then body horror, but I find it just as disturbing. Terrific thriller.

    1. Casablanca
    So obvious it could make you sick, I know. But it really is that good. It is one of the defining moments of cinema and for a good reason. Once again terrific acting, wonderful script, very good music and one of those bittersweet endings I so adore. If you haven’t seenthis you are only doing yourself a disservice.

    The list maker in me says that most of this list is waaaaaaay to predictable, but oh well. You can’t make a list that blows everyone’s mind every time, and I suppose there is a reason for them coming up so frequently.

  2. I’m not sure I’ve seen 5 B&W movies but I love Young Frankenstien, Gojira and I liked the original King Kong.

  3. There are so many great movies in B&W, I could easily rattle off a top five for comedy, drama, sci-fi, etc.

    Cutting the list to just five would seem impossible. How do you pick between, say His Girl Friday and Some Like It Hot and Arsenic & Old Lace? There are at least five Bogart B&W movies that I find equally enjoyable. How could I even choose between In a Lonely Place and To Have & Have Not? I have a top five just for cinematography. Add in foreign films and it really gets insane. Ask me tomorrow, and my list would shift. Everything I would leave off my list would be a “Sophie’s Choice” struggle. I better stick with a Top 50.

  4. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid is not a cop out. It marvelously predicts the mashup/YouTube culture of today. It’s brilliant.

    5. A Touch of Evil – Orson Welles’ noir masterpiece. Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh with Welles as a corrupt, but complex character. Amazing.

    4. Todd Browning’s Freaks – A really disturbing movie, filled with actual circus freaks. Great, horrifying stuff.

    3. Bringing Up Baby – A leopard, a dog, and a missing dinosaur bone. Throw in Katherine Hepburn, and Cary Grant taking you to school in comedic timing and you have one of my favorite comedies of all time.

    2. Duck Soup – The Marx Brothers best movie…with A Night At The Opera in a close second. The Mirror scene and the trial of Chicolini are some of the funniest moments ever put on film.

    1. The Manchurian Candidate – Talk about paranoid…This is one of my favorite movies ever. One of the ultimate conspiracy theory movies. Angela Lansbury is great as the villainous Eleanor Shaw Iselin and mother to the mind-controlled Raymond Shaw, sweatily played by Laurence Harvey. Intense.

  5. Hard to narrow it down to just five, but let’s see what we can do.

    5. Pi – pretty much for the reasons yall listed, the mood, pacing and the weird plot.

    4. Arsenic and Old Lace – Rock Hudson and Peter Lorrie 2 classic film stars, Uncle Teddy charging up the stairs, and the two old aunts doing their “charities” with elderberry wine. Just a fun romp as they used to say.

    3. Ed Wood – It’s got Johnny Depp in drag, George ‘the animal’ Steele as Tor Johnson and an Oscar winning performance by Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi.

    2. Plan 9 From Outer Space – Not the best movie by any stretch of the imagination, but one of my favorites. I’m not sure if it’s the paper plate ufos, the clear difference between Bela Lugosi and Tom Mason (who played the part after Lugosi’s death), or the childish acting but this film speaks to me for some reason.

    1. Harvey – How can you not love a film about a 6′ 3.5″ invisible rabbit. It’s a movie that says it alright to be a bit weird. I think Elwood P. Dowd himself said it best “Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.” And this movie also taught me that it’s better to be “oh so pleasant” than “oh so smart”.

    • “Plan 9 From Outer Space – Not the best movie by any stretch of the imagination” Got that right :) Did you hear the Filmsack episode where they broke it down?

    • Sorry to be a pedant, but considering what web site we’re on… :)

      Anyway, it’s not Rock Hudson, it’s Cary Grant.

      As to casting, there’s the cool Karloff joke that is even a little bit funnier because it is Raymond Massey playing the role that Karloff originated.

      “Harvey” is another great play to movie adaptation, but I always lean a little more towards Arsenic because of the creepy Halloween vibe in the look and the macabre killings.

  6. 5. Godzilla – Raymond Burr and a guy in a rubber suit!
    4. Angel and the Bad Man – John Wayne will always be the Man!
    3. Night of the Living Dead – They still have not done a better zombie movie
    2. 12 Angry Men – Such a great movie done entirely in real time.
    1. Seven Samurai – One of the best adventure movies of all time!

    • If I did make a top 50 list, 12 Angry Men would be right on it. There are a few movies that, whenever they are on TV and no matter how far into the story they are, I always end up watching until the end. And that movie is one of them. Every actor is pitch perfect, and the six or so who get to chew a little bit more of the scenery are even more perfect. Klugman and Jack Warden are truly memorable. I love Sidney Lumet. I was just watching “Murder on the Orient Express” last night. Heck, I’ll even watch The Wiz!

    • I give Night of the Living Dead massive amounts of props for inventing the modern Zombie as he/she/it is today, there were a few zombie films before that, mostly looking at the Voodoo version of zombies but Romero changed the game. The only reason I don’t include that movie on my list and why I don’t find it to actually be the best zombie movie ever is the insanely slow pacing of the film. That’s a product of the time, and while I throughly enjoy when the director lets the scene breathe, there’s almost literally 10 minutes where we watch the character Ben (Duane Jones) nailing boards over the doors and windows. I definitely thought that the movie was all about what was happening inside that house more than outside. I actually just picked up another copy of Night of the Living Dead on dvd at a Goodwill the other day. I already owned it but the copy I found has this great little college made short on it called Night of the Living Bread. It’s a ridiculous little farce that’s good for a chuckle.

  7. I CAN’T watch Citizen Kane anymore. Back when I was still delusional enough to try to study film, I took a film history class that we spent 4 weeks of 3 hour classes – 12 hours total – going through Citizen Kane shot by shot. I loved Citizen Kane before that. That class ruined it for me.

    Is it any surprise I changed majors to Creative Writing?

  8. This was a tough one. I had to eliminate all the ones you mentioned on the show, because you already talked about them. My top 5 would be:

    5: The General – Buster Keaton’s civil war comedy. Mostly because it filmed here in Oregon and used a lot of old 4-4-0 locomotives that haven’t survived to modern times. Plus, it is funny, and Keaton does things with locomotives that would make the Workers Comp people and insurance adjuster cringe.

    4: The Informer – A forgotten John Ford classic about an IRA terrorist who informs on his best friend in order to collect the reward and go to America with his girl friend. He squanders the reward in one night of drunkeness and debauchery, driven by his guilty consciousness, and hunted by his IRA compatriots. John Ford made this movie for like, maybe $12, and made up for the lack of money for sets by using dark scenes and foggy streets, and the movie turned out to be a masterpiece. It was film noir before film noir existed.

    3: The Hidden Fortress: A classic Samurai film, but also the inspiration, according to George Lucas, for Star Wars. Akira Kirisawa filmed it on the side of an active volcano! What more need be said?

    2: The Seven Samurai: A classic Samurai film that inspired a whole genre of lesser Western remakes and imitations. It’s even been remade as an sci-fi anime series (wtf?)!!! Perhaps one of the more noteworthy things about this classic was that Kirisawa’s favorite actor, Toshi Mirfune, was given a lesser role, of a farm boy who is torn between his contempt for the Samurai class and his desire to become a Samurai himself. Also, his character doesn’t survive the movie, which was probably as shocking to the Japanese audience as those rare westerns where John Wayne bites the dust were for American audiences. This movie holds up to repeat viewings, too.

    1: Casablance: Without a doubt, Humphrey Bogart’s best film. The entire cast of The Faltese Falcon, except maybe Mary Astor, is here, in roles that are even more enduring than in the Falcon. Nobody is really a good guy, and nobody is completely evil, and the whole movie is shot in tones of gray that echo the ambiguous morals of the characters. Moreover, this is a movie that shouldn’t have worked. The script wasn’t even finished until after the movie was in the can, the studio went through teams of scriptwriters faster than Matthew goes through an IHOP on free pancake day, and they even had to call back the main actors to reshoot scenes after they’d moved on to other projects. It should have been a cluster(censored) but it turned out to be a classic. Even that dreadful theme “As Time Goes By” and the awful way they reduce the character of Sam to a Jim Crow stereotype couldn’t kill this film.

    There are so many others, like Psycho, that belong on the list, but these are my personal top picks.

    • High Noon almost made my list. It was the first of the psychological westerns and deserves a mention just for that. However, it is painful to see an aging Gary Cooper playing a coward, and, no matter how you slice it, his character is so cowardly that it is left up to his poor Quaker bride to violate the tenants of her religion and save his sorry behind. I could have forgiven that – almost – but every time I’ve tried to see it since the first viewing, the ticking clock on the wall puts me to sleep. That’s not the sign of a great movie. Groundbreaking in its scope and execution, yes. One of the first westerns to focus on the psychology of the players, yes. One of the early movies to cast a superstar hero in the role of an anti-hero, yes. But not the greatest western ever made. Others have taken the tools fist forged first in High Noon and made much better movies in my humble opinion.

      • I like High Noon, and could easily put it on a list. Hey, John Wayne hated it and that’s good enough for me!

        There’s always Stagecoach and My Darling Clementine to fill a top B&W western slot! (I discovered the latter through what I think is my favorite episode of M*A*S*H).

  9. Meet the Glenn Stone on

    It looks like most of my choices have already been mentioned but I’ll play along anyway.
    5. The Road to Morocco. It’s hard to pick only one Hope and Crosby road picture. This one is considered the best of the bunch, so who am I to argue.
    4. A Hard Day’s Night. An excellent snapshot of Beatlemania, and possibly the first mockumentary, except with a real band.
    3. 12 Angry Men. A great look into our justice system, with hints of what each man’s life is like outside the jury room.
    2. Duck Soup. The Marx Brothers at their finest.
    1. To Have and Have Not. The first pairing of Bogart and Bacall is the best (The Big Sleep is a close second).

  10. Dr. Strangelove – It’s funny.
    Rashomon – It’s got a twist.
    Raging Bull – It’s dramatic.
    It’s A Wonderful Life – Heartwarming.
    To Kill A Mockingbird – Classic.

  11. My top 5 Black and White Movies: because it’s never too late to be topical.

    5. M: My formula for a killer movie: realistic characters in an interesting setting. This tale of a ‘good’ guys and ‘bad’ guys uniting to track down a Kindermorder. And I love me some Peter Lorre: that man is creeptastic.

    4. Dr Strangelove…: I’m generally not a fan of the “Hey look, I’m playing three parts” school of comedy. But Peter Sellers pulls it off here. This one set my expectations high for all future black comedies.

    3. Citizen Kane: For the love of Corellon and all he holds dear, can we stop talking about lighting effects and directing tricks and blah blah blah and instead talk about this is still one of the most penetrating examinations of the culture of the United States?

    2. Sin City: I had to watch this movie twice to get it. Once I got it, though, I loved how Robert Rodriguez creates a world where honorable men struggle to keep their principles. And being in black and white does somehow make the violence more palatable.

    1. Schindler’s List: Take away the hype and the emotionally wrenching setting of this movie, and what are you left with? Great acting, amazing visual moments, and a flawed hero done right. Well deserving of the top spot. :)

    • Peter Seller’s played multiple roles, eh? Was any one of them in a fat suit saying “Hercules! Hercules!” Cause if not, I don’t think I’m interested. lol.

      That’s one of those movies that I know I’m gonna like it but I just haven’t forced myself to sit down and watch it yet.

  12. I tried to be all original with my limited exposure to Black and White movies, and sure I could’ve picked a bunch of ridiculous old black and white horror films with ease, but after reflection my Top 5 has been pared down to thus:

    5. Last Man on Earth – I’ve always been a huge fan of Vincent Price and while this isn’t probably his best movie, it’s one of the first that I’d ever seen and my first exposure to the I Am Legend story and I just really can watch this movie all the time.
    4. The Day the Earth Stood Still – The original version of this movie had so much more going for it than the remake it’s ridiculous. It’s message was clear and it told a story rich with depth and told of an alien coming to earth with a message while never having to do more than have a ship and a big robot. It didn’t need a giant cloud of nanites to eat everything in it’s path. I just love that movie, I’m slightly more worried at the idea of remaking Forbidden Planet than I was with this one, but a remake doesn’t negate the original and I just have to keep telling myself that.
    3. Clerks – I thought I’d put this higher on the list given that I’d rather watch this movie more often than any of the others, but it is where it is for a reason. It’s a great film that is the product of it’s limitations and for that reason it’s the hilariously compelling movie that unfortunately for me had my wife fall for Jason Mewes. lol.
    2. It’s a Wonderful Life – I used to hate having to watch this movie around Christmas with my family, mostly because it was black and white, but now I love this movie. I think it’s so well made, intricate and could have possibly also fit in with the Top 5 Time Travel movies (sorta). It just hit that note with me of the Butterfly Effect and what life might be like if I’d never been born. What kind of impact has my life had in those around me, in a way probably not intended out of the movie, it makes me want to be that person that enjoys his time with the people he cares about and involve myself with the world, because without me, who knows we could all be living in Pottersville. Okay, well, maybe I haven’t had that big of an impact yet, but there’s still time. lol
    1. Nosferatu – I had to choose this movie because of my love for the early Universal monster movies and the horror genre for that matter. Nosferatu is still such a creepy and dark movie with such an iconic villain. There was Count Orlock looking all Willem Dafoe-y and after him, a whole slew of (semi-) interchangeable Count Dracula’s that each copied styles and behaviors from one another. The original vampire (or maybe Vampyr?) movie still resonates with me in an age of Saw 43’s and Final Destination 12’s. (If you do like Nosferatu, it’s worth checking out the movie Shadow of the Vampire which stars Willem Dafoe, John Malkovich, Cary Elwes and Eddie Izzard.)

    My honorable mention includes: Young Frankenstein, Psycho, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the old Kablammakus vs. Slagathor short from the late 40s. ;) Oh and crap, I just remembered Rebel Without a Cause, I love that movie, argh, well, it should be somewhere in my Top 5, maybe like 3.5 or something.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.