Technicolor Films on DVD

Discussion in 'DVD' started by PaulP, Mar 27, 2004.

  1. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    Yes I'm posting this at 3:40 in the morning but I can't seem to calm down. As shameful as it is to admit this, I've had The Adventures of Robin Hood 2-disc SE and only watched it tonight. I don't know why I never picked it up, but it was on my to-watch shelf since its release. Anyway, to make a long story short, I was of course blown away by the film and also by the Technicolor and the beautiful restoration done by WB. I put in the second disc and the first thing I watched was the Glorious Technicolor documentary, which prompted this late-night/early-morning post. I consider myself a sort of a film buff, knowledgeable in all sorts of film history, but it was news to me that color films were made as early as 1920s (and even earlier). I always assumed for some reason that Disney's cartoon The Flowers and the Trees was one of the earliest color films, yet I believe it came out in 1932. So after finishing the great documentary on Technicolor, I went searching online for anything else I could find about it. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a complete list of all Technicolor films. I see some of the earlier Technicolor films are indeed available on DVD, most notably The Black Pirate, which I shall be acquiring soon, but many others are not, like Betsy Sharp for example. The purpose of this post and this thread, I hope, is so to have a more or less complete listing of Technicolor films, and which ones are available on DVD. I was not able to find such a list via Google.
     
  2. Werner_R

    Werner_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Paul,

    Robert Harris has a great article on Technicolor at the digital bits, he also compiled a list of Technicolor movies:

    Technicolor
     
  3. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    [​IMG] Thanks! How did I miss this? :b

    By the way, just placed an order for the upcoming A Matter of Life and Death DVD. [​IMG]
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The list found on Digital Bits was compiled of three-strip Technicolor films.

    The two-strip process, which was actually a number of different processes, which technologically changed over a ten year period, can be found represented in both complete feature films as well as color sequences used to highlight scenes in an otherwise black and white world.

    A superb example, preserved and restorerd by UCLA, The Toll of the Sea (1922) can be found in a four disc DVD set, among other notable examples of the early cinema, entitled Treasures from American Film Archives. As the ending of this film was missing, UCLA's top archivist Robert Gitt, took an original Technicolor camera to location and photographed the ending as it would have been seen originally.

    You can find other examples of early two-strip work in Warner's recent release of Mystery of the Wax Museum (with House of Wax), and Milestone's Phantom of the Opera, which contains a color sequece.

    The two-strip process was used from 1918 until 1932, when it was surplanted by the perfected three-strip system.

    The proper title of Mr. Mamoulian's film, the intital three-strip feature production, is Becky Sharp (1935), also restored by Mr. Gitt and UCLA.


    RAH
     
  5. obscurelabel

    obscurelabel Stunt Coordinator

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    As Mr. Harris noted, Becky Sharp was the first feature length film in three strip Technicolor. I wonder if the holdup on getting this film to DVD is that it is now in the public domain (I'm taking this from the recent Warner's chat) ... meaning presumably that anyone could copy a DVD transfer and sell it as their own?
     
  6. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    I did order that 4-disc set, Mr. Harris mentioned. And sorry for mistyping Becky Sharp - it was almost 4 AM [​IMG]

    It's really too bad that so many of the earlier Technicolor films are not yet on DVD. It does appear that La Cucaracha, the 1934 short is on DVD, though it isn't labeled as such in Mr. Harris's list: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00003RQOK - I wonder what the quality is like though.
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Now that UCLA's restoration of the 1948 Joan of Arc is being released through Image...

    Would UCLA release the 1937 A Star is Born and Becky Sharp through Image, also?
     
  8. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    Out of interest, color goes back earlier than Technicolor. I assume you're talking about natural color. Obviously there were many hand-tinted films, many of which still survive and are amazing pieces. Last year, a fully hand-tinted print of Mélies TRIP TO THE MOON was discovered and restored.

    The first natural color process was Kinemacolor (an invention of George Albert Smith), in Britain. The process was very faulty and gave crude color by alternating a filter wheel in front of the camera and projector lens. Every alternating frame was red, and the others green. When projectected, color was made, but severe fringing and flickering was apparent.

    Their test of July, 1906 was a girl in a pink dress on a swingset and a boy in a sailor outfit waiving the Union Jack. Two years later, Smith released to the public the first Kinemacolor film, A VISIT TO THE SEASIDE, which was various shots edited together. In 1910, Kinemacolor made the first dramatic color movie, CHECKMATED, and in 1912, the first American color film was made through the Eclair studios by Kinemacolor-- LA TOSCA with Lillian Russell. I have a 16mm Kinemacolor print of Miss Russell which was no doubt shot during this period.

    The first feature length drama was the five-reeler, THE WORLD, THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL (1914), made in GB by the Kinemacolor company.

    The first Technicolor film was THE GULF BETWEEN (US, 1917), a five-reeler starring Grace Darmond and Niles Welch. It was the first feature-length color film produced in the US, and third in the world. Following, the first all-color talkie was WB's ON WITH THE SHOW (1929) with Betty Compson and Joe E. Brown in Technicolor.

    The first film in three-strip Technicolor was indeed Walt Disney's FLOWERS AND TREES (1932). The first three-color Technicolor sequence in a feature was in MGM's THE CAT AND THE FIDDLE (1934).

    And, as we all know, the first three-strip Technicolor feature was Rouben Mamoulian's BECKY SHARP (1935) with Cedric Hardwicke and Miriam Hopkins.
     
  9. Jim Peavy

    Jim Peavy Supporting Actor

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    Um, where did you see this was being released?

    BTW, just watched the Fantoma disc of Fritz Lang's The Tiger of Eschnapur last night. Pretty turgid movie, but one of the most beautiful technicolor DVDs I've ever seen.
     
  10. Dane Marvin

    Dane Marvin Screenwriter

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    I, too, did a blind buy on The Adventures of Robin Hood and found the "Glorious Technicolor" to be fascinating -- that alone was well worth the extra SE price.

    Can't wait for the next Technicolor film that Warner is treating with its Ultra Resolution restoration process, Meet Me in St. Louis!
     
  11. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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  12. Craig Perrin

    Craig Perrin Extra

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    I might be wrong about this, but I believe that Dario Argento's Suspiria (1977) was one of the last movies shot in the three strip Techicolor process.
    The Transfer on the Anchor Bay DVD is gorgeous.
     
  13. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    Somebody should make a Technicolor movie now. That would be nice to see. But of course, like the saying goes, they don't make them like they used to.. [​IMG]
     
  14. Jack Theakston

    Jack Theakston Supporting Actor

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    Technicolor stopped using the three strip camera in the early 1950s with the advent of monopack stocks like Eastman. They sold the equipment to China, which made many propaganda films with it, and I think still makes films with Technicolor's cameras today.

    However, they continued the Imbibition process up until the late 1970s. For those of you not familiar with what an IB Technicolor print is-- special gelatins are prepared to "stamp" cyan, magenta, and yellow dyes onto a clear film, giving some of the most vibrant and true colors possible. IB Technicolor also has the advantage of analine dyes, which means that it will never fade, as opposed to standard Eastman, which faded in a matter of years.

    Imbibition had a short amount of life breathed into it in the late 1990s (I seem to remember PEARL HARBOR was one that was printed in IB), but I think Technicolor has stopped again.
     
  15. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    The documentary on the 2nd disc of the Anchor Bay set is confusing on this point. The film was not shot in 3-strip, but rather on normal Kodak color stock. There were, however, Technicolor dye-transfer prints of the film released, and these involved 3 printing matrices. I believe the last film shot in 3-strip Technicolor was in 1955.

    DJ
     
  16. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    n/m (Damin got it)
     
  17. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The three-strip cameras were not sold to China. Rather, the Chinese purchased the dye transfer printing equipment from Tech - London.

    Kodak no longer supported the process, leaving the Chinese to create their own receiver stock, dyes and mordant, none of which ever held the qualities of those produced by Eastman Kodak. Neither was their dye transfer process up to the Technicolor standards.

    It no longer runs.
     
  18. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    I saw an IB Technicolor dye-transfer print of The Thin Red Line at The Egyptian in LA in 2000. Gorgeous color, but I assume it's too expensive to be considered for general use.
     
  19. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    If Technicolor cameras are still available, I'm surprised nobody really attempted to make a true Technicolor film, something like a tribute to the Technicolor films like Adventures of Robin Hood and Singin' in the Rain.
     
  20. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Something I don't really understand.

    3-strip Technicolor was used for these beautiful Hollywood products of the 30s and 40s. But surely there was chemical color film then, as well.

    You can look at Harold Arlen's home movies on the set of The Wizard of Oz, for instance. These home movies, shot by him, are in color. It couldn't be a 3-strip camera he was using...could it?

    My own parents were married in 1945, and my Dad shot home movies of my sister as a baby, born in November of 1946. These 8mm movies are in color, albeit faded.

    Eastman Kodak? Why couldn't they make 35mm movies in color using this film?
     

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