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Paris Blues (1961)
See it for Louis!
If you're looking for a film on the level of Godard's "Breathless" , which was made in the same year (1961), forget it. Belmondo and Seberg coolly ride the crest of the New Wave in some other Paris. But there's never a good reason not to see Louis Armstrong, who is wonderful, so if nothing, see it for him. And where else are you going to get Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier hanging out in a jazz cave with hipsters looking like they just flew in from planet square, but in the process looking a lot cooler than the people trying to look cool.
The love scenes are as melodramatic and corny as they can be, bordering on camp, with a lot of hand wringing and flinging about and running, but c'mon! Newman and Woodward and Poitier and gorgeous Diahann Carroll? Rent this with Diva or Charade or both and it can be a Paris street scene night., although Diva and Charade are far superior. You can definitely do a lot worse.
Lost Boundaries (1949)
Really quite daring for the time
The topic of racial boundaries is explored in fine detail in this story about a light-skinned doctor and his family who all pass for white in a New England town. All points of view and opinions are represented. What makes this such a remarkable film is that it was made in 1949, hardly a year of profound social change in America when it came to the color line. This makes the movie that much more daring. A much better look at the topic of passing than either Pinkie or the second version of Imitation of Life (the first was quite extraordinary, and far superior). There are some really wonderful scenes including one at the town dance when the doctor's son brings home a dark-skinned black friend. The levels of acceptance and non-acceptance of the young black man are nuanced and played out beautifully.
The film suffers a tiny bit from hokey dialogue and mild melodrama, but that is more a result of the year it was made.