Black and White Films


I picked up the September/October issue of Film Comment, which was still available at my local Barnes and Noble, and found inside an intriguing list: the Best Black and White Films Since 1970, presumably chosen by the Film Comment staff. Herewith:

1. The Mother and the Whore, Jean Eustacio (1973)
2. Eraserhead, David Lynch (1977)
3. Raging Bull, Martin Scorsese (1980)
4. Satantango, Bela Tarr (1994)
5. Dead Man, Jim Jarmusch (1995)
6. Killer of Sheep, Charles Burnett (1977)
7. Veronika Voss, Rainer Werner Fassbender (1982)
8. Sicilia! Daniele Huiller & Jean-Marie Straub (1999)
9. Stranger Than Paradise, Jim Jarmusch (1984)
10. Ed Wood, Tim Burton (1994)
11. Regular Lovers, Philippe Garrel (2005)
12. The Wild Child, Francois Truffaut (1970)
13. The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (1979)
14. in girum imus nocte et consummimur igni, Guy Debord (1978)
15. Effi Briest, Rainer Werner Fassbender (1974)
16. La Commune (Paris, 1871) Peter Watkins (2000)
17. Manhattan, Woody Allen (1979)
18. Khroustaliov, My Car! Alexis German (1998)
19. Je tu il elle, Chantal Akerman (1976)
20. The Man Who Left His Will on Film, Nagisa Oshima (1970)

I have seen six of these films, numbers 3, 6, 7 (I think–I saw a lot of Fassbender in college and am pretty sure this was one of them), 9, 10 and 17. I haven’t heard of half of these films.

The most significant exclusion is what I’m guessing is the highest-grossing black and white film that fits the time period, Schindler’s List. Interesting.

Any other comments or gripes? As you might expect I would consider more Woody Allen, with Stardust Memories, Zelig, or Broadway Danny Rose (not Shadows and Fog).


About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

6 responses »

  1. I’ve hardly seen any films on the list but can’t definitively judge, but I’m amazed that ‘Good Night and Good Luck’ couldn’t find a spot on there somewhere.

    Perhaps ‘Schindler’s List’ was excluded because of the colour segment at the end of the film and therefore wasn’t deemed to fully qualify.

  2. Perhaps ‘Schindler’s List’ was excluded because of the colour segment at the end of the film and therefore wasn’t deemed to fully qualify.

    More likely: the editors at Film Comment were trying to be provocative. It absolutely belongs on the list.

    Eraserhead? I’m a huge Lynch fan and even I’m rolling my eyes re: it’s ranking.

  3. Good call on Good Night, and Good Luck, Marco.

    I had a chance to see The Mother and the Whore a couple years ago or so and passed. Don’t remember why although I’m sure the length had something to do with it. I think The Man Who Left His Will on Film played here – there was a big Oshima retrospective and I saw many of his films – but I missed that one too.

    So I’ve seen 2, 3, 6, 10, 12, 17, and honestly, I’d probably pick Haneke’s The White Ribbon over all of them. I guess Wender’s Wings of Desire doesn’t count, because the final third or so is in color, but the b&w section is far more interesting than the color section so I figure it’s worth a mention.

    I’d guess Schindler’s List isn’t on there just because it’s fashionable to hate on it.

  4. Speaking of Bogdanovich, ‘Paper Moon’ (not as good as TLPS, but still fine film) probably unlucky not to be in contention.

    Young Frankenstein another one that comes to mind.

  5. I think for the most part anyone who shoots a film in black and white these days is stroking themselves heavily.

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