I recently held an impromptu poll on Twitter asking people what their favorite black and white film is. The top spot went to Casablanca. While my favorite goes to Seven Samurai, it would more than likely be in my top 5 films of all time even if it was in color. But a great film that is defined by black and white, and would lessen should it be in color, is Carol Reed's The Third Man.

While the cinematography and production design of The Mercury Men is generally influenced by all the great classic black and white films, the high contrast, sharp angles, and use of shadows in The Third Man played heavily into our storyboards. Orson Welles has often noted black and white as the superior format for an actor, as it draws attention to them, rather than a colorful background. If you haven't seen this film yet, I highly suggest either buying or Netflixing the latest Criterion edition.


  1. I still would love to see this!

  2. Criterion Collection films are the highest quality both in technical quality and in the subject matter. They should always be in the rental cue of someone who enjoys classic film.

    I'll mention here a more obscure Orson Welles film from 1958 called "Touch of Evil". It's a film noir with Janet Leigh, Charlton Heston and Orson Welles who plays a dirty, mean, alcoholic cop. It's a great performance.

    Good movies take you to a place you've never been. "Touch of Evil" takes you to a crime ridden Mexican border town and a story of murder, kidnapping, perversion and police corruption. I liked it at least as well as "The Third Man".

    I've blogged a Orson Welles movies that you can watch online:


  3. "The Third Man" is great, but for my money, "Touch of Evil" wins hands down. A few years ago I read an article in Cineaste comparing the two films. There are actually quite a few similarities between the two.

  4. Why are the same films mentioned in surveys every time? Lack of independent/original thought? No imagination? A desire to follow the herd? Interesting.

    I went to film school 35 years ago and it was the same old boring crap mentioned over and over back then. I love the people who when asked to name a favorite film, blurt out with great glee something like ROBOT MONSTER or IT CONQUERED THE WORLD. They instantly gain my respect for being rebels and free thinkers.

  5. While I agree that lists/surveys often repeatedly contain the same films, that doesn't necessarily make it any less true.

    Old Filmmaker, what's your favorite film?

  6. While "The Third Man" is a fave of mine for the dialogue just as much as the music and cinematography, and "Touch Of Evil" also gets high marks (gotta love that Mancini score), I would place "The Mark Of Zorro", "The Misfits", "Some Like It Hot", and "Lonely Are The Brave" in my top B&W list...just slightly behind "The Day The Earth Stood Still". Wait- I still haven't ranked "Casablanca", "The Maltese Falcon", "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon",...


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