Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Black and White Cinema - a Primer

Michael Blowhard waxes, at length, on the virtues of Black and White Cinema. I can hardly argue with a word that he says, and can only point you, gentle reader, in his general direction. Especially if you are of the younger generation who may not have grown up with a taste for black and white, he may just convince you to give it a chance.

He ends this discussion with a call for recommendations of great films to introduce young people to the joys of black and white film. So here is my list of great movies to look out for on Turner Classic or AMC, or potentially to rent or purchase. (with bullets, just to stay with the trend).

  • Touch of Evil - Orson Welles, amazing camera angles, the longest pan shot ever (at that time), wonderful shadows, and some very odd casting
  • Frankenstein - James Whale's horror classic. I couldn't imagine this movie in color
  • Grapes of Wrath - in fact I could list a number of classic John Ford films, but this is one of my favorites
  • The Maltese Falcon - John Huston's classic noir has it all, mood, great acting, smart plot, humor
  • The Philadelphia Story - Hepburn and Cary Grant. Silky and smooth. These two always go down like a well chilled martini
  • Arsenic and Old Lace - Frank Capra's film of the classic stage play. Had to pick a Capra, this just happens to be my favorite
  • To Be or Not to Be - Another classic comedy. Ernst Lubitsch directs Jack Benny and Carole Lombard in this wartime gem. (Remade by Mel Brooks in 1983)

Michael beat me to It Happened One Night, or that would be on my list as well. I've focused on classics before 1950, as these are the movies I grew up on and loved the most as a child, but there are some great films after that time that make excellent use of black and white film. Psycho, Raging Bull, Lenny, A Streetcar Named Desire, just to name a few worth watching.

Read the whole thing here.

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