There's been a recent debate as to the validity of black-and-white films. Many of the youngsters say, "I just don't get it." Well, don't feel like the Lone Ranger young children. Ted Turner has similar thoughts on the supposed curse of black and white.
Whether one would like to admit it or not, the greatest films in history, to include horror, science fiction, suspense and drama, have been made in the breathtaking anti-color of black and white. According to film director John Carpenter in his inventive opus They Live, the reason films are now in color is because of an invasion of aliens during the 1950s. Nice going John, for you are not far from the truth.
I have compiled an unquestionable list made up of the 20 greatest black and white films in the history of mankind. And mind you, I have added a bonus of five Honorable Mentions. For those of you unacquainted, this list is as good a place to start as any. Enjoy some of the greatest films ever made, and they are all in glorious black and white.
1. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Billy Wilder's film noir classic about the decay of Hollywood is alternately hilarious, shocking and extraordinary. William Holden plays a broke screenwriter who literally stumbles into the driveway of a seedy mansion owned by Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), a forgotten silent movie star. The old movie diva is trapped in the past. Poor Norma dreams of making a comeback and Holden becomes her screenwriting gigolo. One of the greatest films ever made and certainly the greatest black-and-white film in history.
2. Touch of Evil (1958)
Orson Welles's film noir masterpiece elevates in classic status year by year. Its brilliantly choreographed opening shot (lasting well over three minutes) will be studied as long as there are lovers of cinema. This seedy tale of murder and corruption is highlighted by Welles as a love-struck cop matching wits with narcotics officer Charlton Heston. The entertaining plot twists and turns like a ride at the carnival. A great example of Welles' matchless directorial style.
3. The Seventh Seal (1957)
Ingmar Bergman's breathtaking Swedish film is one of the universal classics of cinema history. Max Von Sydow plays a knight returning from the Crusades to eventually play a game of chess with Death (Bengt Ekerot). En route, we see witches, flagellants and victims of the Plague. Allegorical Medieval tale questions the meaning of life like no other film in history. A dreamlike, brilliant work.