Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday Thirteen # 51: Black & White Films Made After 1970

Thirteen Black & White Movies Made After 1970

Since the mid 60s, most films have been shot in color. Since then, due to either artistic reasons or budget constraints, directors have occasionally forgone tints and pastels in favor of the monochrome look. Below, in alphabetical order, are 13 movies that came out post-1970 that are shot primarily in glorious black and white.

Because several films fit this category, there are some that didn't make the list. Having said that, feel free to comment on not only the 13 movies below, but any other post-1970 black and white films that are not on the list.

1. Clerks- This 1994 film about two foul mouthed register jockeys is one that I've seen over 20 times. By the way, is that shoe polish I smell?

2. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid- This 1982 homage to film noir of the 1940s and 1950s is a treat for movie buffs. In addition to watching private eye Steve Martin weave his way through a maze of murder, part of the fun is trying to identify the movie clips from various 1940s and 1950s dramas that the film integrates into the plot.

3. Ed Wood- It's ironic that a film about the man often called the worst director ever is such an outstanding piece of moviemaking. Along with Johnny Depp (who's superb in the title role), the movie also features solid supporting performances from Sarah Jessica Parker, Bill Murray, and Martin Landau (who won a Best Supp. Actor Oscar for his role as down on his luck horror legend Bela Lugosi). Parker is especially good in this and seems to have a sense of humor about her appearance. One of my favorite lines takes place near the beginning of the film. When her character, Ed Wood, and a few others read a scathing review of Ed's latest play, she wonders aloud, "Do I really have a face like a horse?"

4. The Elephant Man- Loosely based on the life of Joseph Merrick (called John in the movie), this 1980 film stars John Hurt as the titular character.

5. Good Night and Good Luck- Although I was a little disappointed, this 2005 film about legendary radio/TV journalist Edward R. Murrow's battles with with Senator Joseph McCarthy does an excellent job of evoking the look and feel of 1950s America.

6. The Last Picture Show- Set in 1951 and centered around the lives of various residents of a sleepy Texas town, this 1971 movie features the film debut of Cybill Shepherd and features Oscar winning turns by Cloris Leachman and Ben Johnson.

7. Lenny- Released in 1974, this biopic stars Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce, the stand-up comic who was persecuted for most of his career for breaking obscenity laws in his stage act.

8. Paper Moon- Starring the father/daughter duo of Ryan & Tatum O'Neal, this 1973 Depression era comedy tells the story of Moses Pray and Addie Loggins as they travel the Midwest conning newly widowed women with Moses' Bible scam. For her starmaking debut performance as Addie, Tatum O'Neal won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. One of my favorite scenes takes place near the beginning when Addie demands that Moses give her the $200 that she feels is hers. "I want my $200!" I wonder if the subplot in Better Off Dead involving the persistent paperboy (I want my two dollars!) was inspired by Paper Moon.

9. Raging Bull*- This is without question, one of the best sports movies ever made. Starring Robert DeNiro in his Oscar-winning role as middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta, this 1980 film is not for the squeamish.

10. Rumble Fish- Based on the S.E. Hinton novel, this 1983 film centers around the relationship between Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke) and his younger brother Rusty James (Matt Dillon).

11. She's Gotta Have It*- Made in 1986, director Spike Lee's feature film debut focuses on the love life of Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) as she juggles three men of very different backgrounds and temperaments. Highly influential, this movie ushered in a new era of black cinema.

12. Under the Cherry Moon- If you were like me and went in expecting this 1986 movie to be at least remotely similar to Prince's film debut Purple Rain, this had to be a major letdown. However, the benefit of being 20-plus years older than when I first saw this movie may cause me to give it another look. Along with Prince, the movie also features Jerome Benton and Kristin Scott Thomas.

13. Young Frankenstein- Because I was a big fan of the 1930s Universal horror movies as a kid, I thoroughly enjoyed this 1974 parody which starred Gene Wilder (as Fronkensteen, not Frankenstein), Marty Feldman (as eye-gor, not eegor), and Peter Boyle as Fronkensteen's Monster.

*= brief parts in color

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Nicholas said...

When I saw what your pic was, the only one I cold think of was Paper Moon, but in fact, as i scrolled down, I saw several that I have seen.

Wasn't Schindler's List in b/w or is my memory playing tricks?

Jay said...

I've seen all of them except Lenny.

pjazzypar said...

I had forgotten all about Lenny and I absolutely loved that movie. There is something kind of romantic about black and white films. Sometimes it adds a certain realism, much like the old crime dramas of the 50's and 60's, like "The Untouchables" or "The Naked City". There are some absolute gems on the list.

Lori said...

Great list.I loved the Elephant Man..Happy TT:)

SandyCarlson said...

How I love No. 8!

Saved77 said...

the only one i could think of before peeking at your list was rumble fish, but that's got a teensy bit of color in it, doesn't it? :) i have seen almost every movie in your list, great list, happy TT! my link is here, click here

David Amulet said...

I recall Under the Cherry Moon being a huge disappointment.

Another interesting one (mostly) in black and white was Pleasantville.

citizen jane said...

And now I want to have a post-1970 B&W film festival this weekend. I love movies that are, as you say "shot primarily in glorious black and white."

For my own list, I'd have to include Woody Allen's "Manhattan."

marcia said...

The Elephant Man was so sad

Candy Minx said...

Wonderful list, I had so much reading your comments about each film.

I also felt overwhelmed by how good most of these were...I felt the same letdown with Cherry Moon...maybe I should watch it again. (we are huge Prince fans around here...have tons of concerts on dvd)

I thought of Manhattan, Schindlers List, parts of JFK, Deadman (? with Depp), Mystery Train...

Cool list here is my TT:

Pop Art Diva! said...

Paper Moon - yeegods, two pretty people in one film is too much, lol.

I loved Ed Wood - it was just weird enough to suit me and I love Johnny Depp in anything.

Do you count films that do part of the filming in black and white? Like Pleasantville?

I would love to see the Elephant Man again.

Yes, same question as nicholas, wasn't Schindler's List in BW?

Bryan said...

Great list and commentary. I've actually seen most of them. I think Under The Cherry Moon went straight to video.

Just an aside, I refuse to watch anything made before 1970.

Gayle said...

Geez, I haven't seen any of them and at this point I don't think I'd watch a b&w film.

DoubleDeckerBusGuy said...

Gotta be picky here... The Goldfish in Rumble Fish... okay, so I'm reaching! A goodly list!

Firefly mom said...

We love Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and Young Frankenstein! And I loved the way that they had McCarthy play himself in Good Night, and Good Luck.

pussreboots said...

I've seen all but about three of them on your list. Happy TT.

The Gal Herself said...

While it's probably true of all of them, Good Night and Good Luck would not have been anywhere near as good in color. I wonder if AMC shouldn't try Mad Men in B&W .... Thanks for visiting my TT.

Arlene said...

Great list I have seen quite a few. I can not believe some folks have never seen a black and white film......they are missing some grat movies.

Qtpies7 said...

I haven't seen any of those. I'm not a huge movie watcher, though.

SJ Reidhead said...

I have not seen one of these films - and I consider myself a movie 'buff'. Strange, isn't it?

The Pink Flamingo

Meju said...

I loved the Elephant Man. Black and white films are wonderful.I am working on my girls, I want them to appreciate the classics.

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