Tuesday, December 19, 2006

And the Winner Is...

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious*

My offhand question the other day about great black-and-white movies quickly racked up a near-record number of comments. I've tallied the results (no trivial task, either—see what I do for you?) which are presented below. Note that readers made what they wished of the question; I'm sure some people nominated great films, some people nominated favorites, and others paid more attention to the actual cinematography and the use of monotone. It's all good.

I've arranged the results in order of the number of mentions a film got, and then, within each category, alphabetically. In some cases I added the year of release to avoid confusion with remakes or other films of the same title, and for consistency I've generally listed the titles in their original languages with the common English-language title, if it's known by one, in parentheses. For simplicity's sake I haven't italicized all the titles in the main list. You should be able to find all of the titles on the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com). I've added a few Amazon links here and there, but not to everything, as it would have taken me all day.

Of special mention are Sunrise, a silent film that got two votes, and In Cold Blood, which is B&W but also in Cinemascope. A few "finds" among little-known films may be Eric von Stroheim's Greed (although it's not available on DVD yet), Alphaville, and The Battle of Algiers. For obvious reasons I disallowed movies shot partly—or all!—in color; however, the runaway runner-up not on the list is no doubt Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samouraï, which got a whopping three votes despite the fact that it was shot in very subdued Eastmancolor. And, finally, the Special Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Louis Malle's Ascenseur pour l'échafaud, which is not only in B&W, but has a plot that turns on a B&W photograph—and the movie includes a scene in a darkroom! Can't beat that.

My only personal comment is that I see a subscription to Netflix in my future—I've seen nine of the top ten (gotta go rent The Third Man) and I consider myself fairly cinematically "literate," but haven't seen anywhere close to half these films.

Thanks to everyone who participated. And if you see any mistakes in the list, please let me know.

The T.O.P. Readers' List of
Great Black-and-White Films

Citizen Kane (14)
The Third Man (13)
Casablanca (7)
Dr. Strangelove (7)
Breathless (6)
Raging Bull (6)
Shichinin no samurai (The Seven Samurai) (6)
Schindler’s List (5)
Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire) (4)
Manhattan (4)
Nosferatu (4)
Touch of Evil (4)
La Dolce Vita (3)
Eraserhead (3)
Good Night and Good Luck (3)
M (3)
The Maltese Falcon (3)
Paths of Glory (3)
Psycho (3)
Rashomon (3)
Le Salaire de la Peur (Wages of Fear) (3)
Sin City (3)
Stagecoach (3)
Stranger than Paradise (3)
Throne of Blood (3)
Alphaville (2)
Ascenseur pour l'échafaud (2)
The Battle of Algiers (2)
La Belle et la bête (Beauty and the Beast) (2)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (2)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2)
Double Indemnity (2)
Down By Law (2)
Ed Wood (2)
Elephant Man (2)
High and Low (2)
High Noon (2)
Hud (2)
Ikiru (2)
Jules et Jim (2)
Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief, Bicycle Thieves) (2)
Metropolis (2)
Night of the Hunter (2)
Nóz w wodzie (Knife in the Water) (2)
One, Two, Three (2)
To Kill a Mockingbird (2)
Pather Panchali (2)
pi (2)
Rebecca (2)
Some Like It Hot (2)
Sunrise (2)
Them (2)
12 Angry Men (2)
Yojimbo (2)
Young Frankenstein (2)
El Ángel exterminador (The Exterminating Angel)
Angels with Dirty Faces
Az Én XX. századom (My Twentieth Century)
Battleship Potemkin
The Big Sleep
The Blob
Bob le Flambeur
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
C'est arrivé près de chez vous (Man Bites Dog)
Dead Man
D.O.A. (1950)
Double Indemnity
8 1/2
Les Enfants du paradis
Fort Apache (cited for innovative IR photography)
Frankenstein (1931)
The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Dictator
La Haine
A Hard Day’s Night
Hidden Fortress
Hiroshima Mon Amour
The Hustler
Ibun Sarutobi Sasuke (Samurai Spy)
In Cold Blood (cited for being in Cinemascope)
Key Largo
The Killing
King Kong (1933)
Kiss Me Deadly
Kurutta kajitsu (Crazed Fruit)
The Lady from Shanghai
The Ladykillers (1955)
The Last Picture Show
The Long Voyage Home
Lord of the Flies (1963)
Lost Horizon
The Magnificant Ambersons
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Man Who Wasn’t There
The Manchurian Candidate
Meshes in the Afternoon (short)
Mighty Joe Young (1949)
Misummer Night's Dream (1935)
Modern Times
My Darling Clementine
Night of the Living Dead
Night Mail (1936)
Of Mice and Men
On the Waterfront
Ostre sledované vlaky (Closely Watched Trains)
Les Quatre cents coups (The 400 Blows)
Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers)
Såsom i en spegel (Through a Glass Darkly)
The Scarlet Empress
Scrooge (1951)
Soy Cuba / Ya Kuba
La Strada
The Stranger
Stray Dog
A Streetcar named Desire
Sunset Boulevard
Sweet Smell of Success
Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story)
Tsubaki Sanjûrô (Sanjuro)
The Wrong Man


*The uncredited still photographer on Notorious was none other than Robert Capa, although I don't know if he took this particular picture. Thanks to robert for this information.

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