We don’t see much of Black and White Movies these days. And even if we come across any, while channel surfing, we tend to fast forward the remote. Our actions mirror our racing inner wheel. Acceleration is thrill, no-doubt, but one needs pause to admire.
Likes and dislikes are subjective. Everyone has their list. I have come across few movies from the Black & White era which I love to mention. They are all simple stories simply told. The movies listed below are akin to an enjoyable sip and there taste lingers.
It’s a wonderful life (1946, James Stewart, Donna Reed)
This is a “What If” movie. What If, you never existed? A life touches so many other lives. The movie derives its motivation from the suicide ridden great Depression of 1930’s and 1940’s.
James Stewart is a self-abnegating husband with children who is always on the Help-Mode. He runs a bank which gives cheap Home loans to the poor. His generosity provokes other Loan-Sharks into destroying his business. Some Sabotage and further helped by a collapsing economy is a last straw which kills his bank. Bankrupt and bereft, James Stewart proceeds to the river to drown himself.
There he meets an Angel. How this Angel brings a turn around in James’s life is the beauty of this movie.
It’s noteworthy how Hollywood compares with Bollywood of that period. In our dark hours we had Dilip Kumar stricken with melancholia. Raj Kapoor impersonating Chaplin also did not fare any better. Our comic characters where only side shows. In the main plot we loved to wallow in self-pity. While we celebrated pessimism after Independence, Hollywood, with depression and World War, made optimistic movies with Laurel and Hardy, Chaplin etc. which held out a promise of a Wonderful Life.
The Apartment (1960, Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine)
If you are single and you have an apartment you better have plans to use it yourself. Or else, others will have “ideas” with your apartment. You know what I mean.
Jack Lemmon is single and solitary. He has an apartment but he can’t go to bed “in order to sleep”. His apartment serves as “sleep haven” for his bosses and their dates. While his bosses spend their amorous evenings depressing his cozy bed, Jack’s career progresses as he sleeps on the Park bench.
Jack finally puts a stop when he discovers that his love Shirley Maclaine was taken in by his highest Boss on his own bed.
Jack Lemmon’s acting is effervescent. Check out this Legend of an actor.
Sunset Boulevard (1950, William Holden and Gloria Swanson)
The central character is Gloria Swanson. She was the Superstar of the Silent Movies. In this movie she speaks. Her character typifies a Prima-Donna stuck in her past era. She gloats about her glorious silent era with her young catch William Holden. The movie also stars the legendry director Cecil B DeMille.
The Older you get the more you like to act young. Celebrities, who had seen “hay-days”, want one last gulp of youth just for the road. The movie brings out those characteristics and antics with some fatal consequences.
Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles)
This movie starts like a documentary. This made me “shelve” this movie several times before I finally made myself to see it. I am still enthralled.
Released in 1941 and probably conceived before that, this movie is the “Baap (father) of all Movies“. It has a flow which will put any modern movies shame. With the Film technology of 1940’s, Orson Welles produced and directed a movie which is truly an example for all times. We normally associate Black & White movies of the 40’s with stationary camera, dim lightings with someone playing cross-nuts on the screen. Not this one.
You would like to see this movie if you appreciate cinema. It embeds in you a yardstick.