Hurrah for Black-and-White
Screenwriter Daniel Fuchs wrote of the B&W era: “An excitement filled the theater, a thralldom. People forgot they were sitting on the seats; they forgot themselves, their bodies. They lived only for the film.” Gregg Toland, the greatest cinematographer of his generation, never shot in color. He and his A-picture directors, including John Ford, Orson Welles, and William Wyler, preferred to give audiences the sense that they were watching a suite of etchings. Who needed color when the haunting landscapes of Wuthering Heights materialized on screen, as if photographed in Emily Brontë’s nineteenth century? Or when Citizen Kane’s deep-focus montages breathed life into the story of a fatally ambitious press lord? Or when The Best Years of Our Lives made an American epic out of the interrupted lives of three World War II vets?
Read the rest of Stefan Kanfer's 2008 City Journal article here.
[Can you imagine films such as To Kill a Mockingbird or The Third Man in color?]