Classic films shot in black and white will always hold a certain beauty that can’t be captured today. It’s not just the drama created by the perfect lighting or the romance of the transatlantic accent. No, many old movies have a knack for being good, grounded in a moral center without the need for extraneous romances or egregious gore or violence. Of course, the movies I picked for this list much more of a moral center than other movies of their era, but that’s the reason I put them on this list, right?
I Confess (1953)
Set against the beautiful historic Quebec City, I Confess is a classic Hitchcock film about a priest who is the main suspect in a murder and is bound by the seal of confession from telling the police who the real murderer is.
Red Light (1949)
Business owner Johnny Torno is on a manhunt for his army chaplain brother’s murderer instead of leaving the job for the police. That doesn’t sound morally centered, I know, but the clue is in the Bible.
On the Waterfront (1954)
I know that I said that ol movies can be good without the need for egregious violence, and while On the Waterfront has its fair share of violence, I don’t think it’s egregious for the story it is telling. While the shipping workers struggle under the reign of the corrupt union, Fr. Barry gives Terry Molloy and the audience a lot to think about in terms of conscience.
This German expressionist silent film may seem a little out of place among the American talkies twenty to thirty years its junior that are on this list. Fritz Lang’s masterpiece is laden with religious symbolism taking form in everything from the miracle of the Eternal Garden (the Garden of Eden) to Maria (a messenger of peace and unity whose name sounds really familiar for some reason) to Moloch (the machine that powers the Metropolis -also a Canaanite god who to whom children were sacrificed) to basically everything else in the film.