Wednesday, July 2, 2008

BEAUTIFUL BLACK AND WHITE FILMS

Like old friends who wake up in the night and get up and e mail me their thoughts and go back to bed, here’s a list out of my head just now after my ten-year-old woke me with a call to let me know he arrived safely in West Virginia with a friend’s family.

I had trouble going back to sleep so, I thought about my last post on SINCE YOU WENT AWAY and then of other black and white movies whose use of light and shadow, and/or framing, left indelible images in my head, and maybe yours, and came up with this list:

ASPHALT JUNGLE, THE (for the pre-stardom shots of Marilyn Monroe and that pre-climactic jukebox jitterbug scene) and ALL ABOUT EVE (for some of the shots)
BREATHLESS (Goddard’s original with some shots that look like Lee Friedlander photographs) and THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (for the naturalness of some of the shots and scenes, though the framing and lighting aren’t as amazing as the story) [and how could I have forgotten Cocteau's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which came to mind after I posted this list]
COOL WORLD, THE (The Shirley Clark movie in which she used only “natural” light, including streetlamps for the exterior night shots) and CASABLANCA (of course)
DOUBLE INDEMNITY
8 ½ (a series of great images in many ways) and ERASERHEAD (I admit I liked the way the scenes were shot and lit)
FRANKENSTEIN
GRAND HOTEL
HUSTLER, THE (some of the framing of some of these shots, and the flat lighting, make the mostly static scenes seem almost abstract) A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (it’s like Richard Avedon’s black and white portraits come to life)
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
JEZEBEL (I dug the cinematography more than the film)
KING CREOLE
LAURA
MALTESE FALCON, THE
NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
OUT OF THE PAST and ON THE WATERFRONT
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (the old black and white one obviously)
Q?
RED RIVER and RAGING BULL (another movie where I dug the cinematography more than the film, even though most people I know loved it)
SINCE YOU WENT AWAY, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and SUNSET BOULEVARD
THIS GUN FOR HIRE and A TOUCH OF EVIL (I like the cinematography here too better than I do the movie even though it’s another favorite of many I know)
U?
V? [Ray DiPalma suggested, wisely, VIRGIN SPRING for this letter]
WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND
X?
YOUNG SAVAGES, THE (great framing and lighting I thought)
ZORBA THE GREEK

1 comment:

Toby Thompson said...

Good list. David Lynch told me, years ago in an interview, that he preferred black and white because it was a more exotic, once-removed world, closer to that of a viewer's imagination. He also said he became so immersed in the character of Eraserhead's Henry, that he slept on the set, locking himself in at night with wrenches, emerging at dawn for his Wall Street Journal paper route and the shakes at Bob's Big Boy. "There's no dark side to Bob's," he explained. "The dark side is in me."