What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

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Dargo
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What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by Dargo »

Have just run across the following link on the Net in which someone compiled what they felt was a list of the "25 of the Most Beautiful Films Ever Created":

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/tra ... 32#image=1

All of them listed save for one (De Sica's 'Bicycle Thieves') were filmed in color.

And so my question(s) to the learned assembled here being:

(1) Do you think it's possible for monochromatic films to be considered visually "beautiful"?

(2) And if so, then what movies would you list as being so?

(...while you're answering this, I'll be right over there trying to think of the movies I would choose)
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jamesjazzguitar
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by jamesjazzguitar »

Dargo wrote: June 26th, 2023, 1:46 pm Have just run across the following link on the Net in which someone compiled what they felt was a list of the "25 of the Most Beautiful Films Ever Created":

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/tra ... 32#image=1

All of them listed save for one (De Sica's 'Bicycle Thieves') were filmed in color.

And so my question(s) to the learned assembled here being:

(1) Do you think it's possible for monochromatic films to be considered visually "beautiful"?

(2) And if so, then what movies would you list as being so?

(...while you're answering this, I'll be right over there trying to think of the movies I would choose)
I think a B&W film can be beautiful. E.g. Night of the Hunter.
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jimimac71
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by jimimac71 »

Okay Dargo, I'm going to round up one of the usual suspects.
Casablanca.
I suppose the word "beautiful" means different things to different people.
Key Largo?
I'm likely confusing beauty and quality.
Now look what you've done.
It's like my feeling that good mono is better than bad stereo sound.
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HoldenIsHere
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by HoldenIsHere »

Two that immediately come to mind for me are THE ROSE TATTOO and HUD.
James Wong Howe was the cinematographer for both movies.

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GaryCooper
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by GaryCooper »

1. Red River
2. My Darling Clementine
3. Casablanca
4. The Grapes of Wrath
5. Schindler's List
6. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
7. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
8. Touch of Evil
9. High Noon
10. 3:10 to Yuma 1957

G.C.
Movies are written in sand: applauded today, forgotten tomorrow.
D. W. Griffith
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jimimac71
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by jimimac71 »

Okay, here's one, an odd one:
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.
I remember it from years ago, when I had The Movie Channel.
Someone went into depth to describe how the film was made, documentary style.
Like I can remember for sure over 35 years ago.
It was intentionally filmed using old fashioned techniques, beyond just B&W.
What I remember was they would dolly the camera versus zoom.
Moving the camera (dolly) produces completely different results over zooming in or out.
Just don't say, "Cleaning Woman."
Just for giggles Dargo, since this is your baby, are there any Noir films in color?
What I know about Noir would fit in a thimble and still leave room to swim.
I learned that phase decades ago.
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Belle
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by Belle »

I love monochrome film and always have. Today the finest cinematographer working in this medium is Roger Deakins from the UK. He has worked a lot with the Coen Brothers. "The Man Who Wasn't There" is a visual symphony.



Before that anything shot in monochrome by Gregg Toland or James Wong Howe is absolute poetry.
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Detective Jim McLeod
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by Detective Jim McLeod »

Night Of The Hunter (1955)
From Here To Eternity (1953)
Paths Of Glory (1957)
A Patch Of Blue (1965)
Ed Wood (1994)
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Dargo
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by Dargo »

jimimac71 wrote: June 26th, 2023, 2:42 pm Okay Dargo, I'm going to round up one of the usual suspects.
Casablanca.
I suppose the word "beautiful" means different things to different people.
Key Largo?
I'm likely confusing beauty and quality.
Now look what you've done.
It's like my feeling that good mono is better than bad stereo sound.
Yep, if you ask me here Jimimac, I would say you might indeed be confusing the idea of beauty or a beautiful looking movie with that of being of high quality and/or a film that someone thinks highly of.

Ya see, as much as I also love 'Casablanca' and have always considered it as being in my list of top 5 favorite all-time films, I still don't think I consider it a "beautiful looking" film. One reason for my thinking here being that there are a few scenes in it which obviously look as if they were filmed inside the W-B studio lot, and indeed they were.

And now even thinking of my absolute favorite top of the list movies, 'The Best Years of Our Lives" and 'The Apartment', I don't think I'd call the visuals in them as being "beautiful" either, and even though they're both excellently photographed, and in particular the aircraft boneyard scene in the former.

I now have to say some of the suggested offerings I've so far seen in this thread could indeed rightly and easily also in my opinion be called very good examples of "beautiful" B&W filmmaking, and such as James' pick of 'The Night of the Hunter', Holden's pick of 'Hud', GC's picks of 'Schindler's List' and 'My Darling Clementine', Belle's pick of "The Man Who Wasn't There', and Det. Jim's picks of 'From Here to Eternity' and "Paths of Glory'.

(...and as for the present, I'm still in the process of conjuring up a short list of films I think fit this criteria...and so stay tuned)
Belle
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by Belle »

Dargo, you have nominated "Best Years of Our Lives", which is my number one all-time film. Agree with what you said about "Casablanca" but, despite the fact that (a visably-aged - and yet still only 48) Conrad Veidt is in it, this film is well down the list of my top films. It's not especially beautiful looking, as you say, because of the matt shots etc., which you acknowledge. And yet it was photographed by the very-famous Arthur Edeson who did manage to light some wonderful sequences in it.

This velvet-textured lighting from "Best Years of Our Lives" is one of the ineffable scenes in this great, great film: I literally adore every frame of the whole film. And I love celluloid; its textures in particular.



The loss of Gregg Toland at the young age of 48 years was incalculable. Masterful cinematography masked the sometimes one-dimensional acting of the inexperienced Harold Russell, but this film is visual dynamite. I'll never grow tired of this phenomenal film and, of course, it takes a great director working with a master cinematographer for a film to achieve this level of excellence and cultural cachet. (Love the use of the solo flute over this scene to convey the loneliness and fundamental nature of Homer's anxiety and insecurity with Wilma. And, after the swelling orchestral theme, the quasi military call to arms in the clarinet in a tiny fragment of that part of the score! I believe Friedhofer's score is built around that fragment, no less than any symphonist building his work from a tiny motivic cell.)

Cathy O'Donnell; her stillness, intelligence, authenticity and grace cannot be over-stated. She puts her arms around Homer in this scene as though she's never put her arms around a man before!!

Last edited by Belle on June 26th, 2023, 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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jimimac71
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by jimimac71 »

I don't know how to be critical regarding beautiful, so I must surrender.
My eyesight and earsight are both pretty sloppy.
Dargo, you ignored my question about Noir.
Are they all B&W?
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Belle
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by Belle »

Here is one Technicolor noir, "Leave Her to Heaven", John M. Stahl 1946. I'm not sure how many other noir films were made in colour, but Polanski's "Chinatown" is definitely another one of these. Both films I mention are formulations of incest/the Oedipus Complex, strangely enough.

Leon Shamroy, master cinematographer in "Leave Her to Heaven".

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GaryCooper
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by GaryCooper »

Movies are written in sand: applauded today, forgotten tomorrow.
D. W. Griffith
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norfious
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Re: What B&W films would you consider visually "beautiful"?

Post by norfious »

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) is probably the most visually stunning films I have ever seen. The soft focus and the exaggerated sparkles used in the scenes in the fairy forest give the setting an ethereal quality and are just gorgeous. Apologies for the low-quality videos. These were the only ones I could find of these particular scenes.



_Broadway_ from the TCM forums.
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