Black and white films can be difficult to approach if they haven't been your cup of tea, especially when you don't know where to start. I was talking to a friend about this and tried to think of an actor who is accessible but also encourages newcomers to jump down the rabbit hole of black and white movies. For my money, that would be Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca.
I'll be the first to admit some black and white movies are absolutely ridiculous or mind-numbingly boring and not worth the time, but Casablanca will show you how rich they can be. Besides, it's fun to watch a movie that has been quoted and parodied endlessly and finally be able to understand the context of the lines like this one:
All too often I run across someone who has never seen this movie, and that's a tragedy. It's a very accessible romantic drama with sharp dialogue - a welcomed departure from the all-too-frequent cheesy lines associated with films of this era. Casablanca is about a cafe owner named Rick who claims to be neutral in all things, which is especially interesting since this is set during WWII. However, his claim is challenged when a former lover of his returns (with her new husband in tow), and they're looking for refuge from the Nazis.
I realize that of the movies I'll be writing about there's a greater chance that this one is already sitting on your shelf (DVDs are still a thing, right?), but perhaps you've been hesitant to explore Bogart's other movies. Some are just as iconic as Casablanca and others can admittedly be quite difficult to follow. I suggest that you generally work backward with his titles, and I've linked each suggestion to an IMDB page so you can read up on them. They're not ordered in terms of best to worth but rather a good sequence to follow to better enjoy some of his career highlights.
2. Sabrina (Starring Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. Later remade in 1995, starring Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond)
5. Key Largo (Also starring Lauren Bacall)
6. To Have and Have Not (Click here and zip to 2:30 in the video, and you'll understand why this is a must-see. Further proof of this being a must-see is that this movie started the life-long romance between Bogart and Lauren Bacall).
7. The Maltese Falcon (A rite of passage into black and white films)