I am a movie nerd. I may not be as vocal on the site about my movie nerdery as I am about my video game nerdery, but the fact remains that my movie nerdery is strong. Unfortunately, at times, I can come off as a bit pretentious about the cinematic arts, and this may end up being one such occasion.
One of the classic pretensions in film is the black & white movie. Now, I say this with a fair amount of self-deprecation, because some of my favorite movies are in black & white. However, they are not in my list of favorite movies because they are in black & white. They are simply wonderful movies that happen to be in black & white. Many people now will refuse to watch a black & white film because they are under the impression that it will be boring, or irrelevantly old. They are so incredibly wrong.
Lindsey refuses, generally, to watch black & white movies with me. I find this extremely distressing, because some of the greatest movies ever made have been shot in black & white, whether by technological limitation or by choice. I have so far been unable to coerce her into sitting and watching many classics that I’ve been aching to watch again for months or years, so hopefully this article spurs you, the reader, into action. Comment on this article, send Lindsey tweets or emails, or comment on our Facebook page and do what you can to convince her to watch some of the movies you’ll read about below!
You can’t watch film today without holding an appreciation for Orson Welles’ work in Citizen Kane, whether you realize it or not. Many of you may be thinking, “Orson Welles? You mean the guy who voiced Unicron in the animated Transformers movie 25 years ago? That’s the guy you’re starting off with?”
In Citizen Kane, Orson Welles introduced new techniques and ideas that were revolutionary at the time. With advances in cinematography, story-telling, special effects, sound and more, Welles changed the face of film-making with what is commonly considered the greatest movie ever made.
Based on the news mogul, William Randolph Hearst (the man who built Hearst Castle in San Simian for you Californians in the crowd), Citizen Kane follows the rise and fall of Charles Foster Kane, played by Orson Welles himself. The story is told through the memories of the people who had been close to Kane while answering a reporter’s questions. The reporter, writing a story on Kane, is attempting to determine the meaning of Kane’s final spoken word, “Rosebud.”
At its heart, Casablanca is a story of unrequited love. Yes, there are Nazis, police, and danger, but they only exist as a vehicle for the story of Rick and Ilsa and the love they once shared. You’d think it would be easy to convince Lindsey to watch a movie about hopeless romance set during World War II, but you would be fucking WRONG.
Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund, Casablanca is consistently ranked in “Greatest Films of All Time” lists, and rightfully so. With one of the most well-known movies lines of all time, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine…,” and one of the most often misquoted movie lines of all time, “Play it again, Sam…,” Casablanca is a must-see.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
I know, quite a title, isn’t it? Starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Peter Sellers, Slim Pickens, Sterling Hayden, Peter Sellers, and James Earl Jones in his first film role, Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy masterpiece takes place in a world where a crazed Air Force general orders an attack on the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union has an ultimate doomsday device that will activate the second any attack is detected.
Peter Sellers turns in three sublime performances as the Royal Air Force liaison tasked with talking sense into the rogue Air Force general, the President of the United States tasked with working with the Russian Premier to defuse the situation, and as the titular ex-Nazi mad scientist with an out-of-control right hand, Dr. Strangelove, working for the President and providing alternate plans for the survival of the human race.
This movie stands at the top of black comedy and remains relevant to our current political atmosphere. Dr. Strangelove manages to scare the shit out of you while making you laugh your ass off at the same time, which makes it one of my favorite movies of all time.
Start with these three, then move on to such classics as Young Frankenstein, Metropolis, Good Night and Good Luck, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Seventh Seal, Schindler’s List, A Touch of Evil, On the Waterfront, Psycho, and more. You’ll thank me once your lives have been enriched by these experiences.