Friday, May 9, 2008

My Top Ten Beauties in Black and White

I love films in black and white. As much as some scholars used to believe that silent movies were superior to those with sound, with every passing year my affinity for classic black and white films grows stronger. I feel like there was a greater emphasis on the image then and most starlets of the time had a favorite director of photography that would be the only one allowed to film them. Hollywood lore is full of tales of actresses carrying on affairs with their cameramen instead of directors or actors. Whatever the dynamic in the relationship, it did capture some of the most beautiful women in the world on film forever. With this blog, I present to you a loving tribute of my top ten favorites.

10. Carla Gugino in Sin City (2005)

This is more of a special mention since the film was released in 2005, but not only has Carla Gugino been smoldering hot since Son in Law, in this movie she commits fully to the character as originally conceived in the graphic novel, which is more than I can say for other actresses in the film. *cough JessicaAlba

9. Tracy Reed in Dr. Strangelove (1964)

As Ms. Scott, the only woman in the cast of one of my favorite movies of all time, Tracy Reed on this list is a bit of an indulgence. But, she is simply stunning in her bikini and again in her Playboy spread that the crew admires on the B-52 bomber.

8. Jane Russell in The Outlaw (1943)

She may have exuded more sex appeal later in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but in this picture her ample assets defied the Hays Code, caused the Motion Picture Censor Board to demand cuts in the film (as depicted in The Aviator), was banned in several states, got theater owners arrested for indecency after playing it, had Howard Hughes designing custom brassieres and made Ms. Russell a star.

7. Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946)

We all know that Rita Hayworth was a Latina and that she was the first poster purchased by Andy Dufrense up in the ‘Shank, but did you know she gave birth to Orson Welles’ baby just before filming this movie and before that was the first choice to star in Casablanca?

6. Teri Garr in Young Frankenstein (1974)

This might be my favorite movie of all time and every time I watch it, I cannot decide who is better looking, Teri Garr or Madeline Kahn? I bit the bullet and cast my vote for Teri, because she never looked better in anything else she did and Madeline had more to do in Paper Moon.

5. Audrey Hepburn

Sabrina, Roman Holiday, Funny Face, who can decide? Regardless of your personal preference, Audrey remains one of the most beautiful women ever to shine on the silver screen and became immortalized by hipsters and teeny boppers to this day. And I have to choose Sabrina, even though she won the Oscar for Roman Holiday.

4. Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita (1960)

In one of the most influential films ever, Anita captivated audiences all over the world and was practically canonized in Italy, even though she was a native Swede. A classic beauty, she set the standard for such Europeans actresses to follow including Monica Bellucci and Eva Green.

3. Ingrid Bergman

In spite of being the most attractive nun ever in The Bells of St. Mary, how many other movies do we remember her from? Casablanca? Notorious? But, to truly understand and appreciate the beauty of Ingrid, you have to watch her films with Rossellini, which she considered her best work.

2. Natalie Wood in Love with a Proper Stranger (1963)

I have been in love with Natalie Wood since I was twelve years old and watched her in West Side Story. I fell in love with her all over again a few months back when I caught her in this movie opposite Steve McQueen. She was gorgeous, talented and taken from us far too soon.

1. Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot (1959)

Yes, she was a troubled woman creating a troubled production in the midst of her troubled marriage. But, through sheer screen presence and charisma, Marilyn turned her most memorable performance in one of the most beloved films of all time. She was the penultimate sex symbol, the Blonde Bombshell, but above all else, she took her craft seriously and studied under Lee Strasberg at The Actor’s Studio, in order to be thought of as more than just a pretty face.


Maz said...

Did you get my e-mail with some of the pictures from Happy Holy Days?

Michael Mendez said...

I did not, sir.

maz said...

I sent you the photos.

Text me if they got to you or not.

Phillip said...

Nice list. How about Eva Marie Saint in "On The Waterfront", or Claudette Colbert in "It Happened One Night"? Hard to argue with any of your choices though.

Michael J. Mendez said...

Eva Marie Saint is #11 for sure. I just couldn't find a picture I thought did her justice, so I bumped her. No disrespect intended. Claudette Colbert was great too, for sure, but I guess I was looking more more at the Fifties and Sixties than the Thirties, a few Forties.