My top black and whites

March 10, 2009

This post is in response to and in praise of Blaze Danielle’s post at http://blazedanielle.wordpress.com.

Here is my list of favorite black and white movies.  It is also meant to provide great films of introduction for those who don’t watch, are indifferent of, or don’t like black and white movies.  Try a few of these.  If you have seen them please comment; if not, watch them then comment.  The top ten counts down to my favorite.

 

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

 This is the gangster movie that made James Cagney.  It’s the story of a couple of friends, one grows up to be a priest and the other a gangster.  The ending is intense.

The Wind (1928)

This excellent silent drama proves the silent era was cut short just as it was reaching its pinnacle.  It’s easily one of the best silent films made and a great showcase for Gish’s tremendous talent.  She plays a young woman moving to Dust-Bowl-Depression-era Texas where she is haunted and being driven mad by a freakish sandstorm,  isolation and a stalker.  If you don’t mind spoilers check out these fantastic closing scenes.

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

This fast paced comedy helped define the slapstick genre.  It stars Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.  The laughs come so fast and constant that during the first view you’ll miss half the jokes from laughing .
All About Eve (1950)

All About Eve (1950)

This is a hilariously witty comedy starring the great Bette Davis. It’s one of Davis’ finest performances, and that’s saying a lot.

Key Largo (1948)

Key Largo (1948)

I love this gangster movie starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren BaCall and Edward G. Robinson (love them all) where a hurricane turns the tables on some gangsters who are holding a Florida hotel hostage.
The Big Sleep (1946)

The Big Sleep (1946)

Another great Bogart and BaCall.  This one is based on a classic Raymond Chandler LA noir novel.  If you haven’t seen a Bogart and BaCall try this one.  I will warn you the plot gets fairly twisted; but a lot of people like that.
The Philadelphia Story (1940)

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

A comedy of manners starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.   Jimmy Stewart earned his only Oscar with this performance.  That’s enough for me.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

This is an absolutely gorgeous black and white film which is like watching a child’s nightmare. Robert Mitchum’s a creepy, preacher-clad murderer stalking and hunting two siblings until he meets Lillian Gish’s wonderful character in a false prophet verses true prophet showdown. There are so many beautiful and memorable images in this film which makes excellent use of light and shadow.

Casablanca (1942)

Casablanca (1942)

This is just plain classic.  It’s so well made and acted in every area.  It has a great cast (even the smallest characters) including Peter Lorre, a favorite of mine.  I only wish he had more screen time.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Love it.  It’s Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart!  See it any time of the year.
Charlie Chaplin's City Lights

Charlie Chaplin's City Lights (1931)

This silent is hilarious and touching and spectacularly smooth flowing.  This is not only my favorite black and white movie by my favorite movie of all. Chaplin was the master.  Also, the final scene is easily one of the best scenes ever fillmed.  Again, see my earlier posts (See These Movies, An Eloquent Silence).
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See these Movies

April 5, 2008

I know we have not been posting frequent enough and we are trying to change that.  We are all students and our time is easily snatched away from us by school, work and others.  Please continue checking and reading our posts.

 

In order to get something out there I thought I would put together a list of a few films that I highly recommend you go out and see if you are not already familiar with them.  If you have seen them write in what you think.  If you have not, see them and comment on what you thought. I am very interested to hear what others think of these movies.

 

THE FILMS

 

I love old movies so many of these are older and may be unfamiliar to you. See them and comment.

 

Rear Window(1954)– I have mentioned this masterpiece of suspense by Alfred Hitchcock before and it?s always worth mentioning.  Hitchcock being the ‘Master of Suspense’ makes this film like he created suspense, both the feeling and the genre.  It is one of his best if not the best.

       Possibly the best part is that it stars Jimmy Stewart and the gorgeous Grace Kelly.  Stewart’s character is confined to a wheelchair and his apartment and begins watching his neighbors out of boredom (and he has a great view thanks to an amazing set).  Things begin to get suspicious then tense as Stewart’s imagination begins to run, but is there something to it?

       Hitchcock plays with the natural curiosity that leads us all to be compulsive people watchers and he uses our own imaginations against us.  The film is so well shot and Stewart is so talented that we too are carried off in our thoughts and fears.

       There will be several scenes so tense you won’t be able to decide whether to sit or stand, hold your breath or scream.   

Jaws(1975)-This is just a great thriller.  If you haven’t seen it you must, and the whole thing (I know someone who has not been able to watch past that first scene on the beach).

        What is great about Jaws is that for most of the film you cannot see the thing you fear; all you hear is that ominous score.

         That scene with the scars and Robert Shaw telling the story of the U.S.S. Indianapolis is one of my favorite scenes in film.

 

City Lights(1931)– This is a charming, easy to watch and thoroughly pleasant silent film by Charlie Chaplin (probably his best). If you only watch one silent movie make it this one. It’s one of the greatest movies ever made. American Film Institute has it at eleventh place.

          One of the things that makes it worth seeing is to marvel at how smoothly Chaplin can communicate, develop a plot and appeal to your emotions.  The appeal to emotions is what makes silents wonderful. Without dialogue silent films communicated through pathos and emotion.

          The movie follows the misadventures of the Tramp as he falls in love with a blind flower girl and does all he can to help her. It’s sweet and hilarious.  The closing scene is also one of the best ever filmed and is so touching it may bring you to tears.  And all without sound, but when you?re Chaplin who needs sound.

 

American Graffiti(1973)– An amazing and important period piece.  It is important because it gave George Lucas the means to make STAR WARS.  It is Lucas’ record of the American car culture of the ’50s and ’60s.

          It is set on the last night of summer in a California town (filmed in Lucas’ hometown of Barstow) and has a continuous period soundtrack of Motown and first generation rock-n-roll.  If you can watch it without interruption it will cause you to lose yourself in the era.

          It follows several friends as they prepare to go back to high school and leave home for college.  It’s a very entertaining and comic look at ’60s adolescence.

          It is also notable for strong performances of young soon-to-be stars like Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Mackenzie Phillips and Harrison Ford.

 

 

 

007_FXIW1_ITS_WONDERFULL_LIFE~It-s-a-Wonderful-Life-PostersIt’s a Wonderful Life(1946)– If you have not already seen this Jimmy Stewart movie you have been deprived of life and Christmas and cannot afford to waste any more time. Words will not do the film justice so just go watch it. Now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid(1969)– This is a western everyone enjoys.  Staring Paul Newman and Robert Redford it was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four of them.

           It is funny, exciting and playful.  The filming makes the movie beautiful and has a great script.  The ‘raindrops’ scene is probably the most enjoyable of the film and has a great song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The African Queen(1951)– One of the (if not the) greatest examples of acting.  It stars Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn at the peak of their careers (and with plenty of experience).  They have natural chemistry and give the script new life as it develops into witty comedy.

          Bogart and Hepburn play Brits who get stuck behind German lines in Africa during World War I.  As they make their way up a dangerous and unpredictable river their focus moves from escaping capture to striking an offensive, their relationship humorously developing along the way.

          Since the movie is set mostly on a small boat with only Bogart and Hepburn aboard their performances are not compromised by lesser co-stars.