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Comedies Die In Technicolor


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Watching "Life With Father" and this is a crime of a movie... the big bright Technicolor dictates a bigger, bolder directorial style from old-school B&W artist Michael Curtiz. The dialogue jokes and sharpness of the film drown in the big colorful splendor. How many other movies were ruined by Technicolor that should have been shot in B&W?

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>Watching "Life With Father" and this is a crime of a movie... the big bright Technicolor dictates a bigger, bolder directorial style from old-school B&W artist Michael Curtiz. The dialogue jokes and sharpness of the film drown in the big colorful splendor. How many other movies were ruined by Technicolor that should have been shot in B&W?

 

Take a look at THE COURT JESTER some time; you'll change your tune.

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See the Blu-ray release of "Nothing Sacred" when it comes out Tuesday (from a Technicolor print at George Eastman House, and according to reviewers a substantial improvement over all the Cinecolor public domain copies floating out there) and you may change your tune.

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Interesting idea for a thread. But I disagree. It's like saying that all of Doris Day's films should be shot in black-and-white or all of Jerry Lewis' comedy is funnier in black-and-white. Funny is funny. Comedy is comedy. Sure, some of the cinematography or art design with the Technicolor productions may add distracting visuals, but the comic performances and the hilarity of the story do not have to be overruled by the look of the film.

 

Personally, I think film comedies took a bigger hit when radio and television came into vogue. Suddenly, every family comedy on the screen was written like a sitcom.

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> {quote:title=Sprocket_Man wrote:

> }{quote}

> Take a look at THE COURT JESTER some time; you'll change your tune.

Yay, verily, yay to that! :)

 

Not only is The Court Jester hilarious but it's vibrant and beautiful to look at, as well. Just like you can't judge a book by its cover, I guess you can't judge a movie by its color (or lack thereof) either. I've seen many a b&w comedy that I didn't find very funny (although seeing them in color would probably only highlight their dreadfulness ;) ).

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Eeh! If ya ask me, the OP here was just overly generalizing this whole comedy thing 'cause he TOO knows that the Andy Griffith Show was always funnier before it went to being filmed in color! Ain't that right, Bolesroor?! ;)

 

However of course, the OBVIOUS reason for all THAT was because the great Don Knotts had left the show by that time!

 

(...though now that I think about it, I DO wonder if "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" AND "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" might've been funnier if THEY were in B&W???...naaaah, nothin' would've helped THOSE, I'm sorry to say!)

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This has to be the oddest post ever, what does color have to do with comedy?? Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye and Steve Martin movies were ruined because of color?

 

Considering the type of awards given to the film, the director might have been more concern over image than dialouge in that not too many color films were being produced at the time.

 

Since you stated dialogue jokes and sharpness of the film drown in the big colorful splendor blame the script writers. Simply wasn't all that funny to begin with.

 

The only color comedy I've ever seen involving stockbrokers that's funny was "Trading Places" (1983)

 

 

.

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

>

> (...though now that I think about it, I DO wonder if "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" AND "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" might've been funnier if THEY were in B&W???...naaaah, nothin' would've helped THOSE, I'm sorry to say!)

>

I beg to differ...I happen to LOVE The Incredible Mr. Limpet. The one I don't care for is Ghost and Mr. Chicken....I sat through it and tried to figure out WHY people find it so funny and such a classic. It was incredibly dull and un-funny to me, and many consider it to be THE Don Knotts movie. To me, Limpet is 100 times funnier. Brilliantly underrated film...the scenes with the Nazis and the torpedo designed to seek out Limpet is hysterical even though there's next to no English spoken in the scene, and Oscar Beregi is wonderful as the Nazi commander: "Limpet?? Was ist das Limpet??" :D

 

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> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote}This has to be the oddest post ever, what does color have to do with comedy?? Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye and Steve Martin movies were ruined because of color?

Hamradio, I understand what you're saying but as a student of comedy believe me: color matters.

 

First, black and white presents a more stark, simple visual- less color to distract the eye, less extraneous visual information... if there's a visual joke or gag- BAM! - it's more likely to score because it strikes with more impact. Look at a Buster Keaton or Three Stooges short- bold sight gags and outrageous stunts- with no one worried about the color of the wallpaper in the room or the pattern of the carpet. What color is Curly's shirt? White. What color is Buster Keaton's hat? Black. Simple visuals allow the comedy to shine through and slap you in the face.

 

Am I saying that NO comedy should be in color? Of course not... this is my second point:

 

Early Technicolor- before color was an industry standard- changed the way B&W directors directed. It's only logical: they have an entire new palette to work with, and suddenly they're concerning themselves with all sorts of visual issues that have never mattered before. This includes choices in set design, costume, staging, interior/exterior shots, lighting, makeup and even actors themselves. Until color became the norm you had movies like "Life With Father," a soupy non-comedy that is too busy trying to dazzle your eye to make you laugh.

 

We KNOW Michael Curtiz could direct in B&W... so what went wrong here? He's trying to justify the studio's choice in making the movie Technicolor by showing off Powell's house, the authentic wardrobe, the entire street set built for the milk-bottle joke, etc, etc. I have to believe that if Curtiz wasn't trying to make a pretty painting for the ages he would have made a much better movie than the one he turned out. I think it was an inevitable period of adjustment for Hollywood...

 

Barbsue: Personally I love black and white... and Dargo, I hate to say it but I've never seen one episode of Andy Griffith- in color or black &white! :)

 

Edited by: Bolesroor on Dec 19, 2011 5:04 AM

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Nine years before he made *Life With Father*, Curtiz made *The Adventures of Robin Hood*, one of the most spectacular Technicolor films ever made. So, we know Curtiz could direct in color. :) And, nine years later, he was well past becoming accustomed to directing in color, or being affected or distracted by it.

 

Peter Sellers made some great comedies in B&W, but he made plenty of great ones in color too - like *The Party*, and *The Magic Christian*, to say nothing of several good Pink Panther films.

 

I'll admit that directors had a learning curve, when switching to color, and that might have distracted them a bit at first. But, I doubt that any film that would have been a great comedy, if made in B&W, was ruined by being made in color.

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I think LOUISIANA PURCHASE, a Bob Hope-Vera Zorina comedy that has lots of dancing, benefits greatly by having been filmed in Technicolor.

 

As for colorizing, watching Shirley Temple's early black-and-white films in their computerized versions definitely ruins it. But I can see why the studios do it, since a lot of today's kids prefer to watch movies in color. It's a marketing ploy.

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I don't know about comedies, but I definitely feel that horror movies are more effective in black and white. In B & W, a film like *Dracula (1931), or the Mummy (1932)* retain their dreamlike, or rather nightmarish, surreal quality better than if they would have been shot in living color. Films that ask us to suspend our disbelief (at least temporarily) in vampires and living mummies (or even an improbable comic plot), are better served by B & W. Shoot these subjects in color, and the whole story appears more "fakey" and kitsch. Horror movies shot in color often (but not always) get dumped into the "psychotronic shlock" category.

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Thelma, it depends on how the color is used. My horror faves are the old Unviersal classics from the 30's and 40's, but even in the early 30's movies like Doctor X and mystery of The Wax Museum actually benefit (IMHO) from the two-strip Technicolor because...in particular with Wax Museum, it adds an air of decay and decadence to the proceedings. A more modern film like Creepshow benefits tremendously from the color because in that instance they were replicating the look of the horror comics of the 50's.

 

Problem with horror movies today is they all look alike and seem to be filmed the same way, resembling each other.

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In The Essentials, Robert Osborne said THE CAINE MUTINY would have been more effective if it were shot in b&w (or something to that effect).

 

Personally, I think there are more films that probably should have been shot in color. Mostly because of the sets like period pieces like PRINCE OF FOXES which I happened to watch this morning.

 

Also, two very popular Christmas movies are in black and white - IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and THE MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) and I do think they may have really benefitted being shot in color with the Christmas decor. Both have been colorized though and those versions are available on DVD.

 

Did anyone happen to catch AMC's airing of MIRACLE in color a few days ago?

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*Personally, I think there are more films that probably should have been shot in color. Mostly because of the sets like period pieces like PRINCE OF FOXES which I happened to watch this morning.*

 

The period detail is the main reason why LIFE WITH FATHER was shot in color. PRINCE OF FOXES was planned in Technicolor, and those Italian Renaissance would have been spectacular in same; however, I think that the amount of lighting needed to film in color would have damaged the frescoes and paintings; hence a beautiful Black and White film crying out for Technicolor.

 

 

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Hi krieger!

 

It's amazing, as it is those very two films, *Doctor X and Mystery Of The Wax Museum* that went through my mind as notable exceptions when I allowed for "but not always"! Those two films are great favorites of mine. Early two-strip technicolor could look surreal and in these instances helped to reinforce an atmosphere of weirdness and as you say, decay.

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