Daily Dirt: Black-and-white films can paint a special kind of picture

CITIZEN KANE, Orson Welles, 1941, running for governor

Citizen Kane (1941) RKO

Daily Dirt for Sept. 20, 2021

There’s something special about a well-crafted black-and-white movie, be it from the 1940s or last week. The atmosphere, tone and visual concepts available in that format can be equally subtle or breathtaking. Vol. 73 offers Stevie Cinema’s all-time black-and-white faves in today’s three thoughts that could change the world.

1. I’m sure you’ll notice one actor in particular who left his mark in this genre. Presenting our top 10 black-and-white films:

  • A. “Schindler’s List (1993)”: Director Steven Spielberg said he shot the film in black and white because he had never seen any Holocaust footage in color. “(That) artistic decision gives the movie a palpable degree of authenticity, telling the true story of one man (played by Liam Neeson) who saves more than 1,000 Jews from execution during World War II,” reports stacker.com.
  • B. “Psycho (1960)”: For a film in the horror genre, “Psycho” is simplistic in its black-and-white approach, memorable in its impact. To this day, the name Norman Bates is terrifying. Thank you, Alfred Hitchcock.
  • C. “It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)”: The all-time feel-good flick starring Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. Sure, it’s a Christmas film, but it works in any season. The movie would never have had half the impact it did if it had been able to have been shot in color.
  • D. “Citizen Kane (1941)”: Incredibly, this (now) much-heralded classic was considered a disappointment upon its release. Director and star Orson Welles, however, had the last laugh.
  • E. “The Maltese Falcon (1941)”: Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade. Need we say more.
Bogie. Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.
  • F. “The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948)”: Another Bogart classic, this one involving gold and mountains.
  • G. “Casablanca (1942)”: A third Bogart film in the top 10. He was nightclub owner Rick Blaine, a cynical expatriate American cafe owner in Morocco, in this timeless masterpiece.
  • H. “To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)”: Gregory Peck is a pivotal character in this award-winning film, anchored in the Depression-era south. The use of black-and-white filming added another level of emphasis to the racial subject matter.
  • I. “Judgment at Nuremburg (1961)”: The film depicts the famous post-World War II trial that saw a number of key Nazi figures brought to justice for the atrocities they oversaw. Spencer Tracy stars as a judge trying to grapple with the trial’s broader geopolitical ramifications.
  • J. “The Sea Hawk (1940)”: Errol Flynn at his swashbuckling best, proving black and white also works for great action films.

Honorable mention:

 “Night of the Living Dead (1968)”: This is the film that spawned the “Dead” movies, eventually lading us to today’s Walking Dead universe of TV shows and upcoming films. This black-and-white effort was absolutely terrifying, especially if you are prone to claustrophobia.

2. Hats off to the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA. They have tabbed Lisa Byington as their lead play-by-play announcer for the team’s TV broadcasts. Byington becomes the first full-time female play-by-play announcer for a major U.S. sports franchise. Byington played soccer and basketball at Northwestern and has worked in a variety of roles for Fox Sports, ESPN, CBS, Turner Sports and the Big Ten and SEC networks.

Lisa Byington, voice of the Milwaukee Bucks

3. Piper Perabo is back on prime-time TV. The actress will have a key role in the upcoming fourth season of the Paramount Network’s megahit “Yellowstone.” You might remember Perabo from her role in “Covert Affairs,” which was a major cable hit for the USA Network from 2010-15. I, for one, am ecstatic Perabo is back.

Piper Perabo

Steve Fact O’ The Day

I played organized baseball from fourth grade through most of high school and never once was able to hit a curve ball.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. He was born before color TV was a thing.

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