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The Best Black and White Movies

OK, kids (that's anybody under 40 who refuses to watch "crappy, old, black and white movies"), listen up: Some of the greatest films ever were photographed in black and white and you are really missing out by ignoring them.

Yes, some of them are decades old, but remember that Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning Schindler's List (1993) was also mostly filmed in black and white, save for a short colour sequence about Holocaust survivors at the end. It worked well in black and white, evoking the horrors of the Second World War. Colour would have cheapened the movie, in my view.

Colour movie film dates back more than 70 years. However, while some classic flicks of the 1930s and 1940s were filmed in colour - The Adventures of Robin Hood, Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz among them - the process was very expensive, technically challenging and usually reserved for prestige projects.

That doesn't mean everything else was low-budget schlock. Far from it. And in the case of, say, the Universal Studios horror movies like Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy, the sinister black and white shadow effects worked to the advantage of these creepy classics.

Today's digital remastering has restored many black and white films to breathtaking clarity. You really should give some of them a shot.

Here are five black and white classics (all with extra features) that I strongly recommend. Click on the image to get a great price from Amazon.

1. Citizen Kane: Made way back in 1941, Citizen Kane is still making headlines - the American Film Institute voted it the best American movie of all time for 2007. Director Orson Welles was at his 24-year-old creative peak, yet the movie strangely foreshadowed his own decline as it told the gripping story of the rise and fall of a media mogul.

Full review.

2. Casablanca: This is a magnificent 1943 cocktail of wartime intrigue set in exotic Morocco. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman make one of the most memorable romantic couples, the music is fabulous (As Time Goes By) and the screenplay is stuffed with great lines - "We'll always have Paris" and "Here's looking at you, kid" among them.

Full review.

3. Double Indemnity: Rated the greatest film noir of all, Double Indemnity is a 1944 crime flick that has an insurance salesman (Fred MacMurray) falling for a sexy, but bored wife (Barbara Stanwyck) who wants her old man to have a little "accident". Deliciously daring morality tale from the great writer/director Billy Wilder.

Full review.

4. Sunset Boulevard: Another Billy Wilder gem, this time from 1950, Sunset Boulevard is the story of a forgotten star (Gloria Swanson) from the silent movie era dreaming of a comeback in her crumbling Hollywood mansion. A struggling young screenwriter (William Holden) becomes her personal writer and lover. The best expose on the rotten reality of Hollywood life.

Full review.

5. The Hound Of The Baskervilles: Made in 1939, this is the greatest Sherlock Holmes mystery of them all, starring the peerless Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as his trusted friend, Dr. John Watson. The great detective investigates the legend of a hound from hell stalking the fog-shrouded Dartmoor wilderness in England and killing off members of the Baskerville family. Creepy!

Full review.

 

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