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Where are the Colorized Classics?


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I hope it is not anathema to ask such a question in these forums, but there was a time when Ted Turner was at the helm, that a great deal of energy and money was invested in colorizing some of the older B&W classics.


I understand the purity argument against altering the original intent of the artists who chose to make their film in B&W for artistic reasoning, even though color was available to them as an option.

However, color in films was an added expense, and some of those early classics were not produced in color simply because they didn?t have the budget to do so.

Colorizing such films could be considered a fulfillment of the original intent, in such cases.


In any event, several of these classics were colorized, and some rendered quite well in the process.

I remember seeing such childhood favorites as Marian Cooper's King Kong, Son of Kong, and Mighty Joe Young colorized and enjoyed them immensely.

I own the original B&W classic format, but where would one go to find and purchase those colorized versions?

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The new Support Center is now filled with great info.


Here's the link for the answer to your question:




On the left side of the screen is a search window.


Just type in colorized films and it will take you to the answer and provide the info you are looking for.


If you have trouble, let me know!


Message was edited by: lzcutter

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I understand the purity argument against altering the original intent of the artists who chose to make their film in B&W for artistic reasoning, even though color was available to them as an option.

However, color in films was an added expense, and some of those early classics were not produced in color simply because they didn?t have the budget to do so.

Colorizing such films could be considered a fulfillment of the original intent, in such cases.


Joseph L. Mankiewicz once said that he never saw a film that benefited dramatically from the use of color, with the possible exception of GONE WITH THE WIND. After the introduction of three-strip Technicolor in 1935, most films were made in black-and-white until the late 1950s because monochrome was viewed as the standard means of cinematic expression, and not because color cost more (though there certainly were b&w films that would have been made in color if the studio thought that increased boxoffice grosses would justify the extra expense).


Franky, the who notion of colorzing movies has, thankfully, become pretty much a dead issue, apart from Columbia's ill-conceived re-release of the three b&w films Ray Harryhausen made for that studio. It's unfortunate that there are still people like you who are, apparently, pining for the days of Ted Turner's greatest dispaly of Philistinism (I admire Turner a great deal, for a great many thing, but this was probably his most ignominious sheme).


"Colorization" (it's not a real word) has five major problems:


1.) Someone has to sit down and decide what colors to put where. Fifty, sixty, seventy years after a film is made, that guess isn't, and can't be, even an educated one, but merely a wild one. You're not looking at a color movie, but a mutilated one, something akin to drawing mustaches on people in photos merely because you like the way they look with them.


2.) Colors in the electronic process are not of and within the people and objects in the film, but merely applied on top of the gray values that exist in a b&w film. The color therefore operates on a separate, detached plane from the images.


3.) No electronic process can duplicate the subtlety of real-life color (let alone the glories of Technicolor): the blush of a cheek, the difference between one leaf and the next, or the crepuscular palette of a sunset.


4.) The process of "colorization" seriously alters and degrades both the sharpness and contrast of the image originally recorded in b&w; the argument from the "colorizers" that any viewer who dislikes the process can just "turn down the color" on his or her TV is nonsense. The resulting black-and-white image looks like muddy, foggy garbage.


5.) You, the viewer, are also degraded by your acceptance of the process. By doing so, you admit to the world that the subjectiveness of black-and-white story-telling is simply to much for you to assimilate, and that you demand a relentless literalism in all that you see and hear. If there's one great and enduring problem in modern films, it's that they are nothingif not literal, both textually and cinematically. Filmmakers have capitualted to the modern audience's perceived need for everything -- from exposition to character development and relationships -- to be laid out in the most obvious and undemanding manner, which is what has really driven films' descent into graphic sex and violence. People nowadays want their meal cut up into little bite-size pieces for them before they even sit down to eat it, and that's terribly, terribly sad.


I've always wanted to conduct a little experiment: take a couple of minutes of footage from a beautiful Technicolor film, make a black-and-white transfer of the film, and then give it to the "colorizers" to color according to their own taste and judgment.'


If one were to then put the two up side-by-side for comparison, I seriously doubt that there is anyone who would not puke on his boots at the travesty that is "colorization."


You'd never want to look at one of the damn things again.

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Whew? I feel like I committed a mortal sin with that question.

Thank you, CineSage jr, for the enlightening information. And thank you lzcutter, for the link.



First please let me establish that I ?do not pine for the days of Ted Turner?s colorization efforts,? I am however interested in collecting some of those colorized films.


I grew up on black and white, didn?t even see a color TV until I was in high school. In those days the colorization tint had to be adjusted by hand and the best we could do is try to match a green to say what we though was a green tree, or blue to what we thought might be a blue sky, or skin to a perceived flesh tone. We were all ?painters? of sorts and I?m sure we got it wrong more than right, but none-the-less it was a different experience that we more often enjoyed than not.


I understand that beauty and color is in the eye of the beholder and the ?painted? colorized images on these films is a perception of the ?colorizer? and does not likely represent the actual color tones as they would have been.

(Note: ?colorize,? ?colorizer? and ?colorization? are currently in use in both our dictionaries and within our vernacular and as such are considered ?real? words, by most individuals who use the terms)


I may enjoy an original movie more than the various remakes that follow, but I none-the-less strive to collect those remakes of my favorite films, if only to view the contrast of the changing historical and political times that they represent. Likewise, as a collector, I enjoy the diversity of having an unadulterated ?original? copy of a favorite film and a ?colorized? copy if it has been produced.


My particular interest in colorized films is in those such as King Kong.

No one knows what dinosaurs really looked like, what color they were, whether they were gray, or green, or multicolored like a monarch butterfly or a peacock during mating season. We cannot tell from the fossil evidence just what the pigmentation of their skin was, or if it changed from moment to moment.

All renditions of the color of these animals are imagined. But I still like to see what others have imagined those colors to be, whether in still or moving art.

Granted the color I view may not be the same that Willis O?Brien created or that Cooper or Schoedsack saw. But then nothing in this fantasy was real anyway. The animated Kong model was something like 10 inches tall, and Fay Wray wore a blond wig, so the reality of the film doesn?t matter to me. It is simply a film that I can view again and again, and I wish that those missing original scenes that Peter Jackson tried to recreate were still somehow available.

But they aren?t, so I?m grateful for Jackson?s effort, even if it isn?t the original.

I am not degraded, by this, just appreciative.


I understand the subtle subjectivity of black and white. I appreciate it and use it in my own photography. I also shoot in color, and like wise appreciate it, though even the best color film does not always capture the reality of say a sunset, I?ve used the peculiarities of various film brands to express my own subjectivity.


The world is many shades, both of color and dark and light.

We may be used interpreting black and white radiographs, but more and more medical and dental facilities are going digital these days with the capability of enhancing those images with artificial color for improved diagnostics.


There is a place for black and white and a place for color in my world. At times I prefer one or the other, but I like both.


When I see a colorized classic, I accept it for what it is. I don?t need the graphic intensity, but it is nice to see through someone else?s eyes, how they perceived the scenery and actors to be.

I do believe that as crude as it may seem to you, that these people are artists in their own right, and given a difficult task to represent in a loving way the color of those characters they paint.


I don?t seek a replacement for classic B&W films with colorized ones, but in those that I enjoy, I like to have both versions, if they are available.


I?m sorry that you are blue, but you can color me pink with embarrassment that I ventured an objective query on such a subjective forum titled: Information, Please!

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How dare you tell someone else how and what they are supposed to feel when they watch a colorized film. Your obnoxious, pretentious and belittling response to a poster who did not ask for your two cents is amazing. Who designate you the Film Nazi? I much prefer B&W myself, colorization obviously isn't for everyone, but in case you didn't know this we live America the FREE. You pompous twit!


Have a great day!

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I really don?t wish to belabor this topic, tomagain77, and perhaps this thread should be deleted from the forum, but?.


Since you brought up the subject of classic art (however sardonically) may I venture to say that for generations we became used to the subdued colors of Di Vinci and Michelangelo, and others we consider ?the masters.? We thought that is the way these artists perceived and painted life in their world. Those ages must have been dark indeed, and that is how they were depicted by their contemporaries. ?Experts? wrote volumes upon the interpretation of their art based upon what they, not the artist saw.

Then modern restorers learned how to remove the centuries of lamp oil soot and pollutants that had obstructed the truth behind what we thought was reality, without harming the original pigmentation.

For the first time since their creation people were able to view the vibrant colors as the artist had painted them.

They were breathtaking to behold, the amazing art of the Sistine chapel (for example) was seen in an entirely new light.

Now the ?experts? are writing new books on what the artists meant and how they viewed their world. It seems it was not as drab as we had once thought, but full of startling color. And many of these artists tried to illustrate that as best they could with the oils and pigments that were available to them.

Even those, such as Van Gogh, which many agree was obviously disturbed, strived to paint his twisted world with bright, vibrant color.


So, depending on which presentation of the masters that you view, restored or ?old school,? one may indeed legitimately say that the art appears ?a bit drab in the color department? and perhaps needs the loving and delicate touch of restoration to return it to as close to the artist?s original intent as possible.

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Has anyone noticed that colorized B & W films strongly resemble the two strip technicolor films of the 30's? This would be such an irony! There is in both cases a cartoonish semi-realism; the colors don't look real, but the eye goes along with it. The fakey looking colors actually help set an atmosphere. (Look at The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) for an example)


This subject continues to arouse a scary amount of passion, as evidenced by the discussion tone of this thread. I hope it isn't catching.


Film is a plastic medium, and so you never end up destroying the B& W versions with colorization. The best justification for colorized flicks is that they can be shown to children and people who categorically will not watch B & W. Perhaps they can be enticed to like classic films that way and eventually outgrow their aversion. I would hope so. The purist or average TCM viewer I'm sure would have no use for them.



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Why is this "scary" and why do you fear contracting it?


Also, why is it not possible for someone to enjoy both an original and a "colorized" version of the same film without being labeled as having an aversion to one or the other.


I guess I'm neither a "purist" nor an "average" TCM viewer (though that is my channel of choice when I have time to watch over 95% of the time) since I find enjoyment in most films whether made in B&W, color, or colorized.


When I was a kid, I thought ALL films (movies, cartoons) were Black and White and various shades of gray. That was because all we had to view them with was an old round tube television set. The ony time I saw a movie or cartoon in color was from the backseat at a drive-in.


I was in high school when one of our nieghbors got a color set. It was crude and the colors were off even with the best adjustment, but I especially enjoyed Disney's "Wonderful World Of Color" when it was on.

When I was an adult, I finally acquired a used color console set. I kept replacing the tubes when they'd burn out and it lasted me for years.

I love my old black and white films that I grew up on, they are comfort food for me. But I also enjoy a great film made with color. Whether it is an original or a colorized version of a classic, it is still a treat to me.

I may not want a steady diet of "colorized" classic films, but I do find the diversity interesting, and enjoyable, if for no other reason, than to gain a greater appreciation of the original over the "colorized" version.

Do you avert your eyes whenever TCM shows a color film, or is it just a sin to also be able to enjoy a "colorized" classic film from time to time.


The only thing I find scary about the tone of veiwers commenting to this thread is that so many of them appear to be "color" blind in the negative sense. And I hope that that is not contagious.


Message was edited by: Stephan55

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To each his own. Personally, I like a lot of things, color and B & W. Colorized films are dead in the water, but cut rate video versions do circulate. I have young nieces and nephews, some of whom will not watch B & W; some kids are like that nowadays- what to do?


The vehemence and personally directed questioning about myself is unwelcome. The topic itself seems to bring this out in people.



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There was no vehemence intended. Just a simple response and general query as to why some individuals believe that others with somewhat different tastes ?must somehow outgrow? their preferences and, in order to be ?average,? acquire the same peculiar aversions as others?


Just what is the ?average? TCM viewer anyway? I would hazard a bet that the majority of them do not even have or take the time to respond to these forums.

I have enjoyed TCM for many years, before I finally took the time to venture forth here.

Perhaps you meant the ?average? TCM forum poster?

Although I?m not aware of any poll taken to tally the ?die hard purist?s? from those that enjoy classic black and white equally with the color features, I?d be interested to see the results.

Is it color films in general or just the handful of colorized classics that these individuals seem to find so offensive?

See, I?m not directing this to you personally, but if you feel that it applies then you may misinterpret it so. And if you did or do then I do apologize for the unintended offense.


I was just interested in hearing the rationale behind your statement:

"This subject continues to arouse a scary amount of passion, as evidenced by the discussion tone of this thread. I hope it isn't catching."


And I?m still curious as to why this topic is apparently deemed so egregious here?

Why do people become so defensive when it is after all, a simple matter of personal taste? And as you so eloquently stated: ?To each his own?? exactly my sentiments.


However, I am glad that you chose to share that you enjoy both venues of the medium; and I agree that it?s unfortunate that your young relatives choose not to do so.

I likewise deal with many folks much younger than myself, most of whom are unaware of a title that was popular when they were a child, let alone a classic that was created a generation or more before they were borne. It?s difficult to find the ?older? films for rent in video stores. Few channels show them anymore, and with the exception of TCM, none that I?m aware show them with regularity and uninterrupted.


This generation is privy to more ?information? and misinformation than any before; they are bombarded, overloaded and perhaps over stimulated to the point of desensitization. In our decadent society how do they determine what is of lasting value and importance, let alone learn to siphon the wheat from the chaff?

For one example:

With hundreds of channels vying for their attention and a plethora of new releases of dubious quality each year, it?s no wonder that they ignore the classic black and white films.

They are a different generation and for them the classics are an acquired taste. For those of us who grew up with black and white, color is second generation. We see things through older, often more discriminating eyes.

The same is true in our public libraries.

With limited space they often get rid of the older editions to make room for the latest ?popular? titles. It?s becoming ever more difficult to find classic literature locally these days.

One must first know that these titles exist, or existed, and then it takes additional effort to locate them. Our and their time is too often at a premium, so if it?s not readily available it may never be seen, or picked up or read.


I find this sad in many ways, and I am dispirited that those things that I grew up with, found value in and that shaped my perspective will one day be dust covered relics hidden in some archive, seldom viewed, if they exist at all.

Perhaps this is the way of each generation as it passes.


Message was edited by: Stephan55

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It seems to be assumed that I don't like color film- something I never said or implied. I do think that it would be ideal if people got used to seeing the classics in their original form- that's all. Colorization isn't the hot button issue with me that it is for so many others. I've seen and heard others debate this over the years, and it gets people emotional.


Please no long reponses that revolve around me personally.



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Very little of what I wrote ?revolves around you,? and none of it should be taken too ?personally.?

Aside from a couple of specific observations on your personal views, which you chose to publicly share, my discourse was generally directed.


It was your choice to post your comments in this thread; I did not ?seek you out.?

I do appreciate your opinion/s, but please, if you are too sensitive or wish no one to comment on what you say or write, then say or write nothing.

Especially not in a public forum which by its design invites discourse.

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No one wants to be misinterpreted. If we say and write what we mean and mean what we say and write, that should not be an issue.

Unfortunately we sometimes don?t thoroughly listen or read or understand what we?ve heard or read, and too often ?we? inject our misinterpretations between the actual lines, and become offended or hurt by nothing at all.


Thank you so much for setting this issue ?straight.? I feel I have a much clearer perception of your thoughts now.

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