In the broadest sense, “classic” is anything before the recent past. Most people think of the “classic” age of Hollywood cinema as the black and white era, but the first great color movie is a Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler, The Black Pirate (1924), and the most recent black and white movie is Alexander Payne’s Nebraska (2013). The point in time when color movies became more common than black and whites is the 60s, the decade of the most radical changes in the motion picture industry. Specifically, the end of the classic era is 1966, the last year the Academy honored black and white cinematography.
Since 1940, the Academy handed out awards for both types of cinematography, and every year through 1966, great black and white movies were made, including many from the first half of the 60s; Psycho, The Apartment, Black Sunday, Bird Man of Alcatraz, The Hustler, One Two Three, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Exterminating Angel, Hud, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Manchurian Candidate, To Kill a Mockingbird, Dr Strangelove, The Best Man, Fail Safe, A Hard Day’s Night, I Am Cuba, Night of the Iguana, Seven Days in May, The Bedford Incident, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!