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ERROL23

What Do You Think Of Colorizing Black And White Movies?

26 posts in this topic

I think they mess them up.In Suddeny,Frank Sinatra has brown eyes.(Old Brown Eyes is back)

The worst ones I think are the Film Noirs.(Blue Skies in the Maltese Falcon?No,I dont think so)

However,The Sea Hawk should have been in color from the start.(The original plan was to do it in color)

What do you think?

 

Edited by: ERROL23 on Mar 26, 2011 7:30 PM

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Almost as good an idea as the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

 

It's like painting over a famous painting by Picasso or Monet, in order to make them more appealing to the every day idiot child. Everyone has a beige face, and the whole production looks cheap and obviously not what was intended if the film was in color in the first place. Some films looks better in color, while some look better in black and white. It's for the director to decide what was right, and that decision shouldn't be made by others 70 years later.

 

I'm honestly disappointed that Cary Grant was an ardent supporter of this foolish idea.

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About the same as I would think about taking some black and white drawing by Michelangelo and adding color to it with crayons.

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It was an idea that I never agreed with but the money that Ted Turner made from colorizing films he plowed back into the preservation of the old MGM film library that he owned at the time. He preserved the original *Ben-Hur* and did the first restoration of that film and he bankrolled a number of other restorations as well including the restoration, with stills, of *Greed*.

 

Because of those profits, a number of silents and other films were preserved and restored. Turner then made them accessible not only on video but also TNT and, ultimately, TCM (in the early years of the channel).

 

Without that, they would have foundered far longer in the vaults.

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The best thing that came from colorization of film, is film restoration. It was decided early on, that in order to colorize a film, the film need to be spruced-up a bit. This lead to, many films being cleaned up in order to undergo their colorization process. Of course, for most, it was just a video version that was cleaned, but still, it resulted in a restored print of sorts. Of course, this ultimately led to a lot of actual film restoration. Much good has come of it. For that I'm glad Turner did it. As for the actual results of colorization, they vary. There are some films that, due to budget, would have and should have been in color (Yankee Doodle Dandy comes to mind), so I'm okay with that one. Really, I'm okay with all of them. It's not as if the black and white versions don't exist. But I don't have any issue with black and white films. When I was a kid going to the movies, we saw just as many black and white movies as we did color films. Besides, many black and white films are beautifully photographed. Colorizing them would destroy their beauty, not enhance it. Finally, I'm not sure why everybody mentions Frank Sinatra's brown eyes in SUDDENLY. Who cares if he has brown eyes? Why can't the character have brown eyes? He has black eyes in the black and white version.

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It depends on the film- but even now when the process has really improved it still is a weird effect- nothing can match the vibrant technicolor hues.

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While we're on the subject of colorizing Black & White film, the television Military Cable Channel has a series underway entitled, "World War Two In Color." Well, the series can be viewed as being sort of deceptive, because all that was done was the colorization of old Black & White documentary footage, shown for years on television! No actual color film from that time period of the War has been utilized. One has to wonder about whether or not it was really necessary to undergo this new means of documentation of historical world events!

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> {quote:title=MovieProfessor wrote:}{quote}

No actual color film from that time period of the War has been utilized. One has to wonder about whether or not it was really necessary to undergo this new means of documentation of historical world events!

 

Not to knit pick, but I do believe that there is a small amount of actual color film used in the series.I say that because I have seen some of that film used in other shows that didn't colorize footage. However, as you pointed out the vast majority of "World War II In Color" is colorized and as I see it faked.

 

Unfortunately, many of today's TV viewers simply won't watch anything in black & white. So I suppose, it's the only way to get them to watch.

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> markfp2 you wrote:

> Not to knit pick, but I do believe that there is a small amount of actual color film used in the series.I say that because I have seen some of that film used in other shows that didn't colorize footage

 

You are probably right. I would guess most of the real color footage woud be of the Pacific Theater and then that of Europe showing scenes after the war. I say this because I did feel that a few scenes also looked familiar to me. Did you know that the original footage of the attack on Pearl Harbor of the Battleship Arizona being blown up was in 16mm color? The film was then transfered to countless newsreels in Black & White. This continued until most of the original color footage was lost. Only fragments of the original print have managed to survive.

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I agree with colorizing costume pics like The Sea Hawk or Westerns but film noir just seems to work best in b&w.

 

In the case of the 1945 Postman Always Rings Twice it was deliberate. Lana Turner and John Garfield had so much chemistry on screen M-G-M feared the production code would put the film down. Dressing Lana in white in every scene but the post-funeral one was supposed to make her look virginal and tone down the heat. When it was colorized she appeared in her opening scene in a coral halter top, shorts, and turban. I think this tampered with a piece of Hollywood history as it showed the mores of the time and how the studios had to work around them. It sounds childish to us today but helps us understand how things were in that time.

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I'm all for it. Especially since it doesn't affect the original product. Yankee Doodle Dandy was mentioned earlier. This seems to be a poor (or early?) colorizing effort and I think that detracts from the film. On the other hand I have a colorized copy of The Thing From Another World, (1951) and I can't get enough of it.

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Of course it affects the original product.

 

This idea falls into the same category as the one somebody had about adding dialogue to silent movies.

 

And if someone is disinclined to watch a black and white film, they clearly don't care about old movies, and colourizing it isn't going to change that. You could colourize all you want, and it's not going to get someone who doesn't watch old movies to change their minds about them.

 

I can never understand why so many people who seemingly love old "classic" movies suggest these kinds of changes. And yet we also get an inordinate number of people complaining about new movies. I've got an idea...let's leave old silent and /or black and white movies alone, appreciate them for the cinematic beauties they are, and just try to be more open to current movies, which, surprise ! - have sound and are in colour !

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Mar 28, 2011 11:07 AM

Actually, it just struck me, maybe by "original product" you meant the actual original film celluloid, in which case, I guess it wouldn't affect that. I thought you meant it wouldn't affect the look and feel of the movie. If you meant the former, my apologies.

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I still feel that a better use of colorization would be to "restore" Two color Technicolor films that only exist in black and white prints. The colorization process resemble the hues found in two color technicolor, so why not use it for that purpose?

 

Warner Brothers films like BRIDE OF THE REGIMENT (1930), GOLDEN DAWN (1930), HOLD EVERYTHING (1930), THE LIFE OF THE PARTY (1930), SONG OF THE FLAME (1930), SWEET KITTY BELAIRS (1930), BRIGHT LIGHTS (1931), FIFTY MILLION FRENCHMEN (1931), MANHATTAN PARADE (1931), all survive in black and white only.

 

Why not try it out on these films?

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How does it affect the original exactly? It doesn't destroy the black & white version at all. That's still there to be seen if you want to. All colorizing does is give the viewer a choice and it seems they usually take that choice. You may like it or hate it and never watch it again but that's your option.

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The real question to be asked is why people would rather view colorized films than the original black and white films. It's easy to call these individuals Philistines and dismiss them, but they obviously have some interest in classic films or they wouldn't be watching them in the first place, colorized or not. My thought is that it takes time to orient oneself to black and white films. I grew up watching black and white films on TCM, so it's always felt natural to me, but for others who grew up without much exposure to it, I imagine it would be quite jarring. It's the same reason adaptations of Shakespeare into modern language sell so well. It takes time to learn to understand Shakespeare in the original language; one can't just start reading Shakespeare one day and have complete understanding, so there is a desire for a simplified version. But when one is either exposed to Shakespearean language early in his/her education, or when one devotes him/herself to learning the language, it makes it much more likely that he/she will appreciate Shakespeare's work on a deeper level than the simplified version could ever offer. Unfortunately, black and white films aren't promoted in schools the way Shakespeare is, so many never develop the understanding of the medium. I agree that films originally shot in black and white are superior when viewed in their original state, but I don't blame those who find them more appealing in color. Hopefully their exposure to the classic films will create a curiosity that will lead them to the originals.

 

-Matt

http://EveryOscarEver.blogspot.com

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chaney7, if you'd read my post completely you would have seen an edit I added, which said:

 

"...Actually, it just struck me, maybe by "original product" you meant the actual original film celluloid, in which case, I guess it wouldn't affect that. I thought you meant it wouldn't affect the look and feel of the movie. If you meant the former, my apologies."

 

I'm glad to know the "colourization" process wouldn't alter the original film. But I still am at a complete loss as to understanding why anyone would want to see a colourized version of an old movie that was made in black and white.

 

kidhendrix made a point I was thinking of making, which is, colourizing a b and w film is to cinema what modernizing Shakespeare's plays is to literature. I do recognize the purpose behind both, which is to interest people who find Shakespeare or black and white films inaccessible as they are.

But I think there should be some other way to accomplish this. In both cases, it takes both the art and the heart out of the original.

 

Also, I still believe that if someone has any interest in "classic" films, they will watch them whether they are in black and white or not.When I first started watching old movies I too was used to mostly colour films, but the b and w, far from hindering me from pursuing them further, had the opposite effect. They were mysterious, from another world and another time. Colourizing them would not only subtly alter the original cinematographer's or director's intention, it would diminish that ineffable out-of-time quality they have.

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Mar 29, 2011 12:11 AM

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I'm against colorizing particularly because the results are usually poor. Certain films, like Yankee Doodle Dandy, wouldn't be so adversely affected but a film like The Fountainhead would be.

 

I think a lot of the aversion to black and white is predicated on the notion that films are supposed to be "realistic" - an undefinable and unreachable plateau. Certainly, preference for acting seems oriented this way (the supposed realism of a De Niro or, laughably, a Pacino vs. Grant or Stewart.) We sometimes see the same reaction in other art & literature (like Shakespeare) but film seems most susceptible to it. Knocking out the superficial importance of "realism" would go a long way in not only getting audiences to accept black and white but also a wider variety of films in general.

 

> {quote:title=misswonderly wrote:}{quote}

> but the b and w, far from hindering me from pursuing them further, had the opposite effect. They were mysterious, from another world and another time.

 

So true.

 

Last November TCM showed a package of early Shakespeare films circa 1900-1910. None of them were any good, as films or as Shakespeare (but I actually think it is theoretically possible to do a great silent Shakespeare film), yet they all had a quality unique to the earliest days of cinema - the jerky frame rate, the tinting and hand coloring, the gestures, the silence, and the added piano music. I found these qualities fascinating and they felt "new" in a sense. It's not the first time I'd encountered these things, far from it, but they've become so distant and alien that it is an entirely fresh experience each time.

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> {quote:title=MovieProfessor wrote:}{quote}

> While we're on the subject of colorizing Black & White film, the television Military Cable Channel has a series underway entitled, "World War Two In Color." Well, the series can be viewed as being sort of deceptive, because all that was done was the colorization of old Black & White documentary footage, shown for years on television! No actual color film from that time period of the War has been utilized. One has to wonder about whether or not it was really necessary to undergo this new means of documentation of historical world events!

 

 

I haven't seen the series running on the Military channel, but, a few years back there was a series called WWII in Color on PBS, first in Europe (IIRC,) then the Pacific. They made quite a point of saying that all the film they showed was originally in color, most rarely seen, and some fairly recently found. It totaled 4-6 two hour shows, IIRC. It was very good. Much of the film was 16mm, some was 35mm. Most was in good shape.

 

I am, of course, totally against colorizing anything. Supposedly Orson Welles' dying words were "Keep Ted Turner's crayolas off of my film!" (referring to Citizen Kane.) I agree strongly with those sentiments. B&W film was not composed for color, with its use of light and shadow, and can't be retrofitted.

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I am, of course, totally against colorizing anything.

 

As if any other opinion has any merit. How funny to even consider the counterpoint.

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Well, this is a classic movie site. One would expect a near-unanimous belief that films shouldn't be colorized, thus the "of course." Would one go to a site discussing classical music, and expect a lot of support for making rap versions of great operas? That wouldn't bother me, but I don't like opera.

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> {quote:title=willbefree25 wrote:}{quote}

> I am, of course, totally against colorizing anything.

>

> As if any other opinion has any merit. How funny to even consider the counterpoint.

 

willbefree, I'm not clear if you'[re agreeing with ValentineX or not. He seems to think you're sarcastically insinuating that he's too opinionated and close-minded about colourizing classic b &w movies, but it sounded to me as though you're just emphatically seconding his point. Which is it?

 

I will go on record -in fact I already have - as saying that I don't believe colourizing black and white movies is a good idea, 99 times out of 100. There may be one or two movies (someone once suggested the 1930s *Midsummer Night's Dream* ) that might look good in colour, but they would be the exception.

 

I still wonder why someone who presumably cares about old movies would even consider this. The classic films that are black and white are just fine in black and white. Some of them, as Valentine said, were meant to be b & w and would be diminished visually and artistically if they were colourized.

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Like most of us I have seen some of these attempts. I watched John Wayne's "Red River" or rather, I watched as much as I could of it before turning it off. They even tried to do it to "The Maltese Falcon". I never really understood the desire to do this to these films. It would be like trying to go back and sculptor clothes on Michaelangelo's David. You could do it but why? I don't think it is criminal but just not something that people should do to films. If you want to colorize one, just remake it. That would also bring up a favorite topic of mine: The top ten worst remakes of all time, one was a remake of Casablanca with David Soul playing Humphrey Bogart's role. What a turkey!

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> {quote:title=misswonderly wrote:}{quote}

> willbefree, I'm not clear if you'[re agreeing with ValentineX or not. He seems to think you're sarcastically insinuating that he's too opinionated and close-minded about colourizing classic b &w movies, but it sounded to me as though you're just emphatically seconding his point. Which is it?

>

 

You are quite right, Miss W. It could be interpreted both ways, and I did not see that. Willbefree, if I misunderstood you, I apologize.

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Please do not ever do that. I will have to turn in my classic film idolization card, and retreat into a corner somewhere, forever more. Won't you be sad? Ok?

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