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Colorized Classics


bugster2
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I know many people think colorizing classic movies is awful but I have just recently discovered how wonderful many black and white movies are in color. In fact some movies are better in color. What I noticed is that 1.It is like watching a brand new movie 2.Much more set detail is evident. For those of you who think colorized movies are horrible, don't watch them. It is not like the actual print has been altered. I am currently viewing Casablanca in color. Better? I wouldn't say so, but entertaining just the same. Some movies I like better colorized are:

 

A Christmas Carol (both 1938 and 1951 versions)

Holiday Inn ( I can sleep through the B&W version but the color version makes the movie come to life)

 

Some movies I would like to see colorized:

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

It Came From Outer Space (in fact I would like to see all 50's sci fis in color)

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Rebecca

Laura

This is only the tip of the iceburg.

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Interesting and I respectfully disagree.

 

One thing about the restored versions of many B&W films is the crisp picture that helps to enhance the delicious cinematography in black and white. Keep in mind that black and white helped the simple special effects of the time. A film like the original THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL would look very silly in color. I don't care how beautifully or perfectly restored a classic is, I don't want to watch it with the feeling that it is "new", just a great restoration. If it looks too new I will think Snookie of Jersey Shore fame was alive when it was filmed. No bueno.

 

While LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is a gorgeous color film noir (please no argument on whether it is or isn't) I think colorization of LAURA would take so much of the suspense and gritty-ness away from the plot if it were in color.

 

Also, rear screen projection of the 40s and 50s looks terrible in color. The car scene in CASABLANCA colorized looks terrible!!! I love film noir and films like OUT OF THE PAST, MURDER, MY SWEET amongst several others, would come across as dated today if they were in color. While the original print isn't altered, colorization is totally screwing with the original vision the director and cinematographer had for the film. It would be like James Patterson going back and rewriting a few Raymond Chandler stories because "he was drunk at the time he wrote it and I think it would make better sense with these plot twists".

 

I'm not as old as many of the other people who are against colorization but I definitely do understand their argument. If colorization will get people more interested in classics, I rather them never be interested. The money a studio could use to color LAURA could help restore THE BRASHER DOUBLOON and get it out on DVD.

 

I recently watched AMC's airing of A MIRACLE ON 34th STREET colorized and whoa! Was it weird watching it back to back with the original black and white. Maureen O'Hara and John Payne were gorgeous - but I already knew this from seeing them in the Technicolor TO THE SHORES OF TRIPOLI. I will say that MIRACLE would have still been a classic had it been shot in color and I wonder why it originally wasn't. I love Christmas colors. I also think a few other period films may have been better visually if they were shot in color. Betty Grable shouldn't have had a single film in 1940 and after shot in black and white!! (LOL)

 

This topic is always an interesting discussion around these parts!

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Certainly colorization is a touchy subject among classic film lovers. I don't think colorizing a movie is the worst thing to do, considering the reason a movie is shot in black and white is due to budgetary constraints, or color film was not yet available. But one has to consider, since color film was available long before most people realize, that many B&W movies were shot intentionally, because B&W lends a particular ambience to the story. Or the feeling that color would somehow distract from the story.

 

It becomes a matter of artistic intent. Would any of Ansel Adams' photographs be more aesthetically pleasing if they were in color? I think not. Some colorized movies seem to lose a bit of their appeal. The 1951 *Christmas Carol* for example. Yes, I've seen the colorized version, and it loses something to me.

 

 

Plus I don't know how much research was done for each colorized movie. Were certain objects given a certain color because there is documentation as to what color they originally were? Or is it left to the descretion of whomever is in charge of the project. I certainly can't imagine ANYONE actually putting on that horrid green suit the colorizers gave Jimmy Stewart in *It's a Wonderful Life*. They could have left it grey. People DID wear grey clothing back then. Hell, the shirt I'm wearing as I type THIS is grey!

 

 

Also consider the fact that Stan Laurel's daughter, after viewing a colorized version of one of her Father's films, contacted the distributors to inform them that his hair and eye color were ALL WRONG! So it would seem that the idea to colorize certain films would have to be carefully done, and not just colorizing a movie just because you can, or under the belief that color just makes everything BETTER.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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I see no reason to colorize movies but I'm not against it as long as the original format is available.

 

I don't think colorizing a movie is going to help broaden it's interest. i.e. someone so shallow (or whatever one wishes to call it), that wouldn't watch a movie because it is black and white, isn't going to all of a sudden enjoy studio era B&W pictures because they are now in color. They would just find other reasons to avoid these great movies; i.e. not enough action, no special effects, no nudity, people dress funny, etc....

 

 

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

> Would any of Ansel Adams' photographs be more aesthetically pleasing if they were in color? I think not.

>

> Sepiatone

> Sepiatone, you just made me think what it would be like if somone colorized a Hurrell b&w glamour photo. It makes me shudder.

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I would be against colorizing any movie which was conceived, written and directed by the same person at a time when color was an option which they chose not to use.

 

If the director was taking the work of another writer then to colorize it is only adulterating a rape.

 

Colorizing older movies makes them far more accessible. Fans of classic movies have built such a mystique around older movies that many people feel they can not enjoy a black and white movie without having a wealth of esoteric knowledge about the director, stars and genres.

 

To say: "You have to watch this movie even although it is in black and white. It is the director's initial use of outre nihilism so you can see how it all began. It is given subtle humor by the star using the same accent he did in another movie the year before when he played a character who was insane. You also get to see the sets from twenty other movies because the studio was having financial troubles and they had to reuse all that they could" is dooming any possibility that it will be watched and that is exactly the type of thing most fans do.

 

Having the film in color removes at least one barrier and makes it seem mainstream so a potential viewer is more likely to give it a chance.

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Colorizing older movies makes them far more accessible. Fans of classic movies have built such a mystique around older movies that many people feel they can not enjoy a black and white movie without having a wealth of esoteric knowledge about the director, stars and genres.

 

To say: "You have to watch this movie even although it is in black and white. It is the director's initial use of outre nihilism so you can see how it all began. It is given subtle humor by the star using the same accent he did in another movie the year before when he played a character who was insane. You also get to see the sets from twenty other movies because the studio was having financial troubles and they had to reuse all that they could" is dooming any possibility that it will be watched and that is exactly the type of thing most fans do.

 

Having the film in color removes at least one barrier and makes it seem mainstream so a potential viewer is more likely to give it a chance.

 

Change some words, some terminology, and you have much the same argument that was made for "reprocessed" stereo versions of original monophonic records made before 1958. The "fake stereo" effect (Capitol called its process "duophonic") never improved the original recordings, and in most cases substantially weakened the sound. Eventually, reprocessed stereo went to the junkheap of history. Good scripts, acting and direction work equally well in black-and-white or color.

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> {quote:title=VP19 wrote:}{quote}

> Good scripts, acting and direction work equally well in black-and-white or color.

 

They do indeed. However those scripts and that acting and that direction will never be seen by many people because "black and white" = "esoteric classic for which you need to know a lot of mumbo jumbo" to them.

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I agree with much that has been said so far in this thread, and specifically about how in many cases and depending upon the genre of fim (especially such as in the case of most all Film Noir) the colorization of a film actually might tend to degrade the enjoyment of it, and even by younger audiences reared on color films.

 

However, yes, call me a "Philistine" here folks, but I have to admit that since this process was invented a few decades ago, I've always thought there are B&W films made in the '30s and '40s that almost call out for colorization, and most specifically the "Outdoor" variety, such as say the 1939 version of *Gunga Din* for instance. or say, some of John Ford's early Westerns, such as *Stagecoach*. And, I've always thought *Yankee Doodle Dandy* would benefit from this process, also.

 

You see, as I think we know, many of those movies filmed in B&W during that era were most likely filmed in B&W only because the newly developed and very expensive Technicolor process at the time was most likely way out of the budget for these films, but I'll bet George Stevens, John Ford and Michael Curtiz would have loved to have had the additional funds to have filmed the aforementtioned classics in vivid Technicolor.

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Even if colorizing could duplicate the appearance of real color (it can't), let alone the dazzling tones and textures of Technicolor (it really can't!), to add this superficial layer of tinting (which is all it is, or ever can be) is to rob a film of its context, i.e. the time and place, when and where it was made (and, yes, the technological limitations imposed on its makers).

 

A film is, and should be, the product of its time, since it can never -- nor should -- be anything other than the sum of its makers' talents and sensibilities.

 

For anyone to say that he or she prefers an artificially-colored product (does he or she also favor chocolate syrup on his or her steak?) is to inadvertently reveal that he or she is sadly lacking in the most basic imagination that allows black-and-white to bloom into a kind of brilliant psychic color within one's mind that's unique to each and every viewer (as opposed to something that actually has color, whch everyone unavoidably sees the same way).

 

 

To paraphrase one of the oldest of old maxims, black-and-white is in the eye of the beholder. Just hope, then, that you aren't merely some kind of old black-and-white movie to someone else.

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WOW! I love the replies in this thread! This is always an intriguing topic to me.

 

Sepiatone - great points about incorrect colorizing! it is one of the hardest things to get right especially if color stills of the sets and costumes do not exist. I also find colorized films to usually have a washed out look. Bogart didn't show signs of illness until his later films but in colorized Casablanca, he doesn't look as good as he does in his other films he made between '42-'45.

 

Dargo - I too have a list of films that I think would have benefitted being shot in color (I also think some in color would have benefitted being shot in b&w) and from what I learned from the knowledgeable people here, the reason for them not being in color was budget. I think period pieces do better in color. Seeing a film that has gorgeous sets like HEAVEN CAN WAIT in color then PRINCE OF FOXES in b&w is a huge difference. Darryl Zanuck at Fox ordered the latter to be filmed in b&w to save money after CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE (in color) did poor at the box office. So we get b&w. GUNGA DIN is a great example!

 

SprocketMan - standing ovation!

 

 

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I believe Yankee Doodle Dandy was colorized but it was done many yeas ago and they made a poor job of it. I'm usually against it however I recieved a colorized version of The Thing From Another World (1951) a while back and it's quite a goof to watch. Dr. Carrington's hair actually looks normal but his outfit still looks weird.

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> {quote:title=SansFin wrote: }{quote}Colorizing older movies makes them far more accessible.

Henceforth, all classic literature will be updated for today to make it more accessible for today's youth.

 

A Tale of Two Cities:

 

"Charles Darnay, alone in a cell, had sustained himself with no flattering delusion since he came to it from the Tribunal. In every line of the narrative he had heard, he had heard his condemnation. He had fully comprehended that no personal influence could possibly save him, that he was virtually sentenced by the millions, and that units could avail him nothing. Luckily, until his death, he had his cellphone and could access the internet to pass the time."

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> {quote:title=chaney7 wrote:}{quote}I believe Yankee Doodle Dandy was colorized but it was done many yeas ago and they made a poor job of it. I'm usually against it however I recieved a colorized version of The Thing From Another World (1951) a while back and it's quite a goof to watch. Dr. Carrington's hair actually looks normal but his outfit still looks weird.

Yeah chaney, I do recall *Yankee Doodle Dandy* being one of the first films to be colorized back when the process was new. And as you state, many if not all of those early attempts were far less than successful in creating a "good look".

 

Now, I have to admit that it's been years since I've watched any colorized films, and so I don't know if the process has been enhanced or "perfected" and is now "ready for prime time".

 

And btw, personally I wouldn't think there'd be a reason to colorize *The Thing(from Another World)*, because it all pretty much takes place in the monochromatic world of the North Pole and the interiors of shelters situated there.

 

 

And so I must wonder...what would've been the point to colorize THAT film, huh?!

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Ah yes LoveFilmNoir...*Heaven Can Wait* (1943)...one of Ernst Lubitsch's little gems. I LOVE that movie! And yeah, its Technicolor cinematography IS first rate, alright!

 

Ya know, it's been years since I've watched that one. I wonder if TCM is going to show it again soon?

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

>"Charles Darnay, alone in a cell, had sustained himself with no flattering delusion since he came to it from the Tribunal. In every line of the narrative he had heard, he had heard his condemnation. He had fully comprehended that no personal influence could possibly save him, that he was virtually sentenced by the millions, and that units could avail him nothing. Luckily, until his death, he had his cellphone and could access the internet to pass the time."

 

I do not believe that is right and proper. It should be:

"CD sat solo in a cell empty. The Man named him Loser. His street cred as a goody fell like the '86 Broncos. The people on the bus had thatched him."

 

Have you heard of the play Macbeth of Moonbase Zero by Hank Sodley?

 

Each generation rewrites the classics. Steven Brust is the current rewriter of Dumas and he is setting the stories in fantasy to make them accessible to young readers.

 

If we were to truly equate movies to literature we should make a few dozen movies required watching in school and make the rest so inaccessible you have to be a specialist or fanatic to find them.

 

Most people have a bias against black and white movies because of the cult which has built up around them. Colorization breaks down that barrier. Such movies might be considered low-dose introductions until the patient is acclimatized so they can accept the real thing.

 

I believe that those who claim that colorization somehow damages movies can not see beyond their own bias. Should no one take photographs of the Mona Lisa because a photograph does not capture the delicacy of the brushstrokes? Should novels and short stories be protected from being made into movies because no graven image can compare to the fantasy wonderment which occurs in the reader's mind?

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Dargo: You probably hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the monochromatic scenes in The Thing. It's a fairly well known film among Sci-fi fans and the location made it easier to do. Just speculating as to reasons. It's really done no better than YYD. Probably around the same time too but I can't see it being harder to do than YYD.

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To me, many classics got "colorized" when I turned 22, and finally bought my own color TV set. My Dad was agin 'em 'cause he thought they "eat too much juice!". My Mom didn't like 'em 'cause she thought the rays emmitted from the tube would turn us all into the HULK or something. Anyway, I don't really see any benefit coming from colorizing *The Thing*. ANY of those cheezy '50's sci-fi flicks would lose some of their cheeziness if colorized. And let's be honest. It's their cheeziness is what we love most about 'em, isn't it?

 

 

When I was delving into photography, one trick that was becoming widely used was to shoot photos with color film, but developing them in B&W. Sort of gave the photos a unique look that shooting in B&W couldn't capture, regardless of filter on camera lens or in the darkroom. Now, that makes me wonder if someone shouldn't start a campaign to "decolor" technicolor classics into B&W? THAT would be a kick! How would those "colorizing crazies" react to THAT?

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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I was thrilled when they colorized "My Man Godfrey". I have always loved the art deco style of decorating back in those days and the colorizing just emphasized the beauty of the decor. As for The Thing in color; I think it is an absolute hoot! The Thing is my all-time favorite 50's cheese. The problem is that quality cheese is limited and having The Thing in color and black and white just adds to quantity I have to watch. I love having Sherlock Holmes in color. My husband and I always wished there were more than 14 movies and with the addition of 4 colorized versions, we now can watch 18.

Someone said in an earlier post that some movies need to be colorized. I agree. They simply are easier to watch in color.

I am an old ****. I was born in the 50's, watched most of my TV in the 60's. We didn't have a color TV until the mid-seventies. I studied film at USC and was taught most of my appreciation for old films but I still think some films are better in color, from an entertainment point of view, that is. If you are looking at a film as a single work of art, then the original is always best. I also think if more films were colorized it would draw in a younger audience and hopefully allow them to understand and appreciate the film as art. Maybe then I could say to my 20-something niece "Remember that Cary Grant movie...." without getting a blank stare and a "Who is Cary Grant"? Yikes! that will make you feel older than dirt.

 

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I do know a few, a very few, younger people who do appreciate older films regardless of them being black-and-white. But as for the greater bulk of them bugster, I fear the only way they'd find interest is if Cary Grant feigned autism and farted through most of his comedies, or transformed himself from a muscle car.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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LOL!!! Yeah, ain't that the truth, Sepiatone!

 

In other words, no matter if an old B&W film would or could be colorized to perfection(if that's even possible yet), the bottom line here is that many of the younger set nowadays haven't yet cultivated the ability to see that many of the "Classics" are considered such because the storylines in them are often timeless in their presentation of how the director and screenwriter views "the human condition", and because of that are far more than just a way to be entertained for two hours at a time.

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

> When I was delving into photography, one trick that was becoming widely used was to shoot photos with color film, but developing them in B&W.

 

Did you ever compare that effect with photographs purposely taken in black and white? I suspect the unique look came from the difference in framing and composition. Black and white photography depends on artful use of light and shadow which is not considered as important in color photography.

 

> Now, that makes me wonder if someone shouldn't start a campaign to "decolor" technicolor classics into B&W? THAT would be a kick! How would those "colorizing crazies" react to THAT?

 

I love the idea! :) I have not watched *Avatar* (2009) because while the synopsis intrigues me I am sure the execution relied heavily on color and cgi techniques. I wonder if I would enjoy it if I could watch it in black and white.

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