Sunday, December 6, 2009

Monday Movie Meme - Monochrome Movies

This week's Monday Movie Meme from the Bumbles is all about those classic Black & White movies. When you think of these films, you automatically think of the ones made back prior to the 1950's. But not so fast. Some of the best in this class are actually modern films that took the road less traveled, adding authenticity to their story. Here are some of my favorites, new and old:

Raging Bull - made in 1980 about a tortured boxer in the 1940's, this movie has atmosphere to spare. I will stick my neck out there and proclaim it to be Robert deNiro's best work ever (and that is saying something from a Godfather-lover like me.) It is dark, it will turn your stomach, but you will never forget it.

Schindler's List - another stomach-turner, but an amazing work of art and labor of love by Spielberg. What made such an impression on me was that everything in the story was black & white but a little girl's doll, which you only see a couple times throughout the film. Devastating.

To Kill a Mockingbird - believe it or not, I only saw this movie for the first time this year, but I knew going into it what I was in for. In my mind, nobody but Gregory Peck could have played the ever-moral, ever-admirable Atticus Finch. Most intriguing though was the bit part of Boo Radley played by Robert Duvall. It just made me want to cry.

On the Waterfront - not everyone may be in my camp, but I am a huge fan of Marlon Brando. He often played unsavory, detestable human beings, but he did so with heart and gusto, and a spark of insanity. (Only a true fan can watch Last Tango in Paris and still call themselves a fan!). In this star-studded film, you get drawn into the Mob and their informers, unions, selling out, regret, and doing the right thing.

The Bicycle Thief - a poignant story of class and poverty and the importance of a bicycle in the life of a struggling peasant, this movie is so simple but powerful. It is routinely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.

The Best Years of Our Lives - C.B. James originally described this as the movie that drives him to tears at every viewing. It is a nostalgic tribute to servicemen returning to their homes after fighting in WWII, and trying to adjust to normal lives. With seven Academy Awards to back it up, including best picture, this film will move you.

Citizen Kane - another one that has been touted as the best film of all time, Orson Wells plays a character that was blatantly modeled after the American newspaper magnate William Hurst. The opening of the film shows a pathetic, lonely Kane, holding a snowglobe with the word "Rosebud" on his dying lips. You can't help but stay around to witness Kane's rise and fall, and solve the mystery of what the hell Rosebud really is.

I'm starting to feel like a broken record when I say that I KNOW I've missed some good ones. But that is the fun in playing. So tell me...which masterpieces have I missed?


Frances said...

Rebecca! Have you seen it yet? Squared away with the silly NetFlix people who did not have it stocked? I had to resort to buying one but it was very much worth it.

Susan said...

Sandy, your list is great! I've only been able to watch Schindler's List one time. It totally devastated me. I want to cry just thinking about it. IMO, it is Spielberg's best film. I haven't been able to watch Ralph Fiennes in anything since then.

You already know how I feel about To Kill a Mockingbird. #1 on my list.

Dial M for Murder is a really good one with Ray Milland. His Oscar-winning performance is in The Lost Weekend. You should check them out...very film noir!

Anonymous said...

What a fun theme to think about! Isn't Todd Haynes movie about Bob Dylan (partly) in Black & White?

I've read To Kill a Mockingbird just a few weeks ago. I figured I didn't need to see the movie since I saw it as a child... But now you've mentioned ROBERT DUVAL! OMG I need to reconsider ;)

And I know I should be able to think of more great black-and-white post-fifties films. Maybe I'll write a blogpost myself!

Margot said...

I like your list. I haven't seen The Bicycle Thief but I like your description. I'm adding to my NetFlix queue as I read all the Monday Movie posts.

Ti said...

This is a great list. I seem to recall a lot of Hitchcock movies such as Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest. Another one that comes to mind, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? FREAKY!

Kathleen said...

I'm embarrassed to tell you how many on your list have not been seen by me! I've been so bad with movies and really want to take more time in the coming year to just sit down, relax, and watch one. My son gets so mad at me because I will watch a movie and be doing 5 other things at the same time! It's a bad habit that I need to break!

Heather said...

I'm in agreement on 2, 3, and 4. I didn't care much for Citizen Kane, and have not seen the others.

My List

Alyce said...

I love It's a Wonderful Life, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (one of my favorites not just for the plot but because it stars both John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart). Which makes me realize that those are both Jimmy Stewart movies. I guess I just have a fondness for his acting. :)

I also love Casablanca!

The Gal Herself said...

Citizen Kane! I'm kicking myself for not listing it. Fabulous choice. Love the scene where Kane is making shadow puppets to distract Susan from her tooth ache. Beautiful B&W photography.

Heidenkind said...

What?! No Young Frankenstein? Oh, the humanity....

NerdyMe said...

hmmm. is this a book blog or a movie blog?

Sandy Nawrot said...

Frances - No!!! I think I'm going to have to buy the damn thing. Glad you reminded me. If I get my requested Amazon gift card, I shall partake.

Susan - I would whole-heartedly agree with you! Fiennes is a force in that movie, but I warmed back up to him in The English Patient!

Gnoegnoe - I've not seen that Dylan movie! Hmmm...I'm off to check that out on Netflix. Oh, you must watch TKAM again. Fabulous!

Margot - it is well worth a watch. I've seen it several times.

Ti - yes you are right...I totally spaced the Hitchcock films. Rear window! OMG! This always happens to me, as I come up with my list so early in the morning!

Kathleen - this is the curse of the mom. We never stop, ever. I have been often known to fold laundry while watching a movie.

Heather - I'm a little slow today. I am off to see your list!

Alyce - oh yes, Casablanca is wonderful! I did think of It's a Wonderful Life, but the Bumbles listed it, and I already copied Schindler's List from them.

The Gal - that movie, as so many, seem so much more artistic because they are in black & white. Rosebud!

Tasha - haha! I've never seen that one! Should I be shot?

My Last Read - officially, I am a book blog. But I love movies and I like to change things up a bit, just to give us a little break from books one day a week! I post pictures on Wednesdays too.

Zibilee said...

I haven't seen most of these, but I will have to agree that Schindler's List and Citizen Kane are excellent movies that I'd happily watch again and again. Some of the others sound quite interesting, and I will be adding a few to my Netflix queue. Thanks!

Alice said...

I can't believe I haven't watched TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Need to rectify that.

Lisa said...

Schindler's List would not have been the same movie had it been done in color. That one little girl in the red coat that was the only bit of color in the whole thing was so incredible.

Literary Feline said...

My husband really likes the old black and white movies. I do too, just perhaps not as much as he does. :-)

Schindler's List is such an amazing movie. I've only seen it once but it has had such a lasting impression on me. Not a story I'll forget for a very long while.

Citizen Kane is one of my husband's favorites.

Great list, Sandy.

Unknown said...

This is a great list. Loved Schindler's List, On the Waterfront, Mockingbird and Best Years. Kane was okay, but I felt it was overrated. I just hated Raging Bull.

Thanks for sharing your list. I'll have to check out The Bicycle Thief.

Heidenkind said...

*gasp* You've never seen it? Gene Wilder as a young Victor Frankenstein and classic lines like, "Roll, roll, roll in zie hay" and Abbey Normal????

The Bumbles said...

I own many of your selections and love the rest that I don't. Raging Bull is one I wish I had thought of. B&W allows the true emotion to just exude in that film.

And On The Waterfront is wonderful - Andy just saw it for the first time recently when I cam across it on TCM and couldn't believe he'd never seen it. I actually think we own it on VHS!

caite said...

TKaM is one of the few where I love the book, love the movie.
..and I love Gregory Peck.

Carrie K. said...

One of my favorite black and whites is The Philadelphia Story - Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart - how can you go wrong?

Anonymous said...

I've seen all of these but The Bicycle Thief. I've never heard of it, so you know I'm putting it on my library list. Great list!