Skip to main content

10 black and white movies that will make your kids love them

The late critic Roger Ebert was a champion of black and white movies. “Black and white,” he said, “creates a mysterious dream state.” But according to a 2017 survey, almost one-third of millennials admitted they never watched an entire black and white film. Less than half said they had never seen such American classics as To Kill a Mockingbird. Appreciation for America’s rich film heritage begins at home. The right black and white film can change any resistance to watching something that’s not in color. Here are 10 classics that parents and children can share with equal pleasure.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Comedy and horror generally don’t mix, but Abbott and Costello perfected the formula in their best feature film. Universal’s A-list monsters, Dracula (Bela Lugosi), Frankenstein’s creature (Glenn Strange), and the Wolfman (Lon Chaney, Jr.) supply the scares while Abbott, especially, provides the laughs as an unwitting (and unwilling) potential brain donor for the Count’s latest experiments with Dr. Frankenstein’s revived creation.

Related Videos

The Absent-Minded Professor

This live-action Disney classic stars Fred MacMurray as a college professor who invents Flubber, an anti-gravity goop. The special effects hold up pretty well. You will believe a car can fly, and the basketball game, in which the players wearing Flubber-enhanced gym shoes give new meaning to the phrase “hang-time,” is hilarious.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

“Klaatu, barada, nikto.” These iconic words are Sci-fi 101. Billy Gray is featured as Bobby, a young boy who befriends the newest tenant in his boarding house. He thinks Mr. Carpenter is “a real screwball.” If he only knew that Carpenter is actually an alien, Klaatu, who has come to Earth to urge the nation’s leaders to live in peace… or else. His robot, Gort, is low-tech by today’s CGI standards, but there’s no stopping him when Klatuu’s life is threatened. Don’t forget those three words!

A Hard Day’s Night

Beatlemania, defined. From that opening chord (a Fadd9, if you’re playing along at home) on the classic title tune, The Beatles’ first film hits the ground running as the Fab Four prepare for a television show appearance while eluding fans and babysitting Paul’s trouble-making grandfather. From “Can’t Buy Me Love” to “She Loves You,” the hits just keep on coming in this fast and furiously funny lark that at times resembles a Marx Brothers farce.


I interviewed Shirley Temple, and she told me this was her favorite of all her films. “I so enjoyed the book as a child,” she told me, “and it was a great thrill to actually play the character and to wear her clothes.” Temple was a once-in-a-generation talent who lifted America’s spirits during the Depression. A curly-haired, dimple-cheeked charmer, she could sing and dance and could make you laugh or break your heart. She is the quintessential child star and this adaptation of Johanna Spyri’s 1881 novel is a great introduction to her. Just be sure to have plenty of tissues on hand.

King Kong

It’s a little creaky at the get-go, but once a film crew finds its way to an uncharted island where dwells the behemoth “Eighth Wonder of the World,” kids will go bananas for this 1933 classic. Modern CGI effects look real but feel fake, while the stop-motion that animates the giant ape Kong looks fake but feels really, really real. Kong atop the Empire State is one of the screen’s most indelible images.

Miracle on 34th Street

Not the 1994 remake, never the remake! The original 1947 holiday classic may just be the best Christmas movie ever. Edmund Gwynn won an Academy Award as “a nice old man with whiskers” who claims he is the actual Kris Kringle. Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood star as a mother and daughter who have a lot to learn about believing even when common sense tells them not to.

A Night at the Opera

Speaking of the Marx Brothers, Groucho, Harpo, and Chico bring down the house as they come to the aid of two aspiring opera singers. While not as flat-out funny as “Duck Soup,” this is the perfect blend of story and Marx Brothers mayhem. The crowded stateroom scene and the grand finale in which Verdi’s “Il Travatore” gets the madcap Marx treatment are comedy classics.

Road to Utopia

And now, for something completely silly. Bing Crosby and Bob Hope made seven “Road” movies, and this is their best. It has all the hallmarks that make this franchise a hit with kids: lots and lots of jokes, wisecracking to the camera, the “patty-cake” routine, talking animals, and even a cameo by Santa Claus.

To Kill a Mockingbird

What this Oscar-winning coming-of-age classic gets so right are the wonders of a kid’s summer spent exploring neighborhood mysteries, like what’s up with the spooky Radley family next door. But at the heart of this story is how 6-year-old Scout and her pre-teen brother Jem gain a new appreciation for their father, Atticus, a lawyer who defends a black man accused of assaulting a white woman. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

We’d love to know your experience watching black and white movies as a family. What films worked for your kids? Which did not? Please share your recommendations.

Editors' Recommendations

Immerse your kids in culture by teaching them about holidays around the world
There are a lot of fun winter holidays around the world to explore
Kwanzaa holiday table setting

Who doesn't love holidays? Celebrating holidays adds some fun to the calendar and gives people something to look forward to. Children absolutely adore holidays and all the preparation and traditions around them. Holidays don't have to be limited to the ones your family celebrates each year. Experiencing a cornucopia of holidays around the world for kids is a wonderful way to teach them about cultural diversity.

School curriculums typically teach holidays around the world for kids, touching on global seasonal holidays. Parents can continue the lesson at home, exploring global holidays in a bit more detail through foods, music, traditions, and books.

Read more
5 winter crafts for kids to make when they’re bored and stuck indoors
Too cold for sledding? Then do these winter crafts for kids
Adorable felt snowman craft

There is definitely a "sweet spot" when it comes to winter weather. It's either time to embrace your inner Queen Elsa and truly enjoy all the cold weather and the snow have to offer, or it's so frigid that everyone would be happier indoors. But no matter the weather, you can still have fun and enjoy the winter season.

Coming up with new, fun, and easy winter crafts for the kids is one way to keep them from being bored if you're stuck indoors. If you've been looking for some new inspiration to step up your craft game during the winter season, try these winter crafts for kids on your next snow day.

Read more
Indoor activities during the rain to keep kids busy and happy
Learning meets fun: What to do when it's raining and children are bored
Child and parents playing hide-and-seek in their living room

For children who like to play outside (and who doesn’t?!), a rainy day can hamper their plans. You might be wondering how to keep them occupied. And you might be frantically planning out activities for bored kids -- those that are limited indoors, at least. But don’t worry! Even inside, there are still lots of ways to have fun. Check out some of the following indoor activities during the rain, and adjust them to suit your family’s needs.

Sensory play that uses everyday items to boost brain development
Exploring the world through the senses is an important part of child development. There are numerous ways you can encourage sensory play in your household. The possibilities are endless when it comes to appropriate materials. From kneading dough to placing their hands in a bowl of uncooked rice to wafting scents of extracts, many foods are a great choice to explore with the senses. Sensory bins can be created (and later modified) according to a theme, such as desert ecology or animals on a farm. But whatever you choose to place in a sensory bin, be mindful of potential choking hazards.

Read more