Movies always cover a broad spectrum and subjects that mean a lot of different things to everyone in the world. This statement couldn’t be made more true especially when the movie business started back in the early 20th century. Of course, all movies started in black and white. From the early comedies with Charlie Chaplin and the Little Rascals, The Three Stooges, and Laurel and Hardy to even “Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” and “Citizen Kane.” These types of movies are classics whether they are made in the 1930s or even today depending on who you talk to. Jeff Genung and the Toddster decided to so something different with this one and Tyler Murphy got the honor of picking the topic for this one. We all had some really great choices on this one. Let’s find out if any of this appeals to you.
“King Kong” 1933
I grew up watching just about every black and white science fiction and horror flick out there, thanks to my stepfather, a notorious movie buff. From “Dracula” to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” “Night of the Living Dead” to “Young Frankenstein,” the list goes on and on. When it comes to my all-time favorite B&W motion picture, however, let’s just say there’s really only one choice for me – the truly timeless Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack-directed, 1933 adventure classic “King Kong.”
Starring Robert Armstrong as movie director Carl Denham, Fay Wray as the beautiful Ann Darrow and Bruce Cabot as First Mate Jack Driscoll (not to mention Frank Reicher’s excellent performance as Captain Englehorn), the film is beyond compare when it comes to the jungle adventure format popular for that day and age, featuring the absolutely brilliant stop-motion special effects of Willis O’Brien.
I’m sure most people know the premise of the film already – giant gorilla takes girl, menfolk rescue girl and capture giant gorilla, transporting him thousands of miles to New York City where he’s put on display before finally falling to his death from the heights of the Empire State Building. And while all of that is well and good, the movie’s fantastic plot is not my primary reason for its status as the best of the best in black and white.
No, that particular classification is due to the amazing battle Kong gets into with a Tyrannosaurus Rex mid-way through the film, which my young mind could barely comprehend thanks to the scene’s absolutely breathtaking magnificence. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, well, let’s just say my inner geek was probably born the moment I saw this.
Even though a lot of people out there may only be familiar with “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson’s re-telling of this classic motion picture, those who have never seen the original are truly missing out. The effects may seem dated now, but back in 1933 they were absolutely awe-inspiring. An all around fantastic movie that ends with one of the all-time best lines ever delivered on the Silver Screen – “Well Denham, the airplanes got him.”
To which the director replies, “No, it wasn’t the airplanes ... it was beauty killed the beast.”
“Teacher’s Pet” 1958
Really, Todd? You want me to pick just ONE black & white movie to write about? As you might have guessed, given my penchant for old movies, this Toddster team-up was nearly impossible for me. I can’t even begin to quantify how many classic movies I’ve seen - and loved - in my 30 plus years on this planet. I was tempted to pull an eeny-meeny-miney-mo, but in the end I capitulated and selected “Teacher’s Pet,” a 1958 romantic comedy starring Clark Gable and Doris Day. Why this film over all the truly brilliant cinematic features which fall into the b&w category? Because it’s about the newspaper biz, and as one reviewer so aptly put it, the film is both “witty and wise” about the industry I have come to love.