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earliest color films on DVD
26 replies to this topic
Posted February 15 2006 - 07:27 AM
What are the earliest color films available on DVD? Some color tinting is available in silent films such as The Phantom of the Opera and the remarkable The Black Pirate. So far as I know, the earliest color film on DVD is Mystery of the Wax Museum -- which looked better, to my eye, on laser disc and vhs. What are some other early color titles on DVD? Moreover, what are some of the earliest color films that should be on DVD but aren't? Doctor X and Becky Sharp come to mind, and a couple of shorts that I've seen on TCM (not lately) like La Cucaracha. But I'm not well-informed on early color processes, which films were tinted after the fact and which were actually filmed in color.
Posted February 15 2006 - 07:34 AM
Actually The Black Pirate is not tinted. Rather it was shot in an early, 2-strip color process (no yellow). That is why it looks a bit odd. I agree that it is a remarkable film.
¡Time is not my master!
Posted February 15 2006 - 07:57 AM
"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence
Posted February 15 2006 - 07:59 AM
Treasures of American Film Archives has the first process B (cemented positive) Technicolor film, Toll of the Sea. It looks stunning. Mystery of the Wax Museum has mis-timed color and interlaced video, but a great film available on the b-side of House of Wax '53.
Posted February 15 2006 - 08:05 AM
Actually, "The Phantom of the Opera" 1925 did have a 2-strip color Ball scene in it. The other solid color scenes were hand tinted for mood.
Posted February 15 2006 - 08:11 AM
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA originally had more Technicolor footage than the version which exists today.
Posted February 15 2006 - 08:24 AM
Thanks, everyone. I guess that would make The Black Pirate the earliest shot-in-color film on DVD. I would like to know more about the process that was used. Isn't the masque ball in Phantom of the Opera hand-tinted color? What about The King of Jazz? Was that a hand-tint job or was it shot in color? I understand it was on DVD but is now out of print and impossible to come by. Which brings me back to my original question -- what are the earliest color films on DVD ? My list is growing: The Black Pirate The King of Jazz Mystery of the Wax Museum Some 2-strip color titles that aren't on DVD but should be: Doctor X Becky Sharp Ramona Trail of the Lonesome Pine Gold Is Where You Find It Help me out here, folks. Let's start listing titles and processes.
Posted February 15 2006 - 08:50 AM
The Masked Ball and all of the FAUST opera scenes (and probably theater interiors) in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA were shot in Technicolor. The masked ball sequence only survives because that particular reel was discovered in the '70s (it hadn't even been spliced into a print!), and was thankfully a dye-transfer print from the 1929 issue, therefore it had not faded. The sequence of Chaney on the rooftop was hand colored by the Handschiegl color process. KING OF JAZZ was also in two color Technicolor. FWIW, it's not on DVD. Both THE BLACK PIRATE and TOLL OF THE SEA are off of negatives. TOLL looks great and care was taken to have it look like original two-strip, cemented prints. THE BLACK PIRATE looks fantastic, but nothing like it originally did in 1926. It also happens to be the weaker-edited (in my opinion, anyway) European version of the film. When you say earliest "color" films, do you mean natural color or does hand coloring and stencil coloring count? BECKY SHARP, TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE and GOLD IS WHERE YOU FIND IT are all 3-Strip Technicolor films.
Posted February 15 2006 - 08:57 AM
No, Phantom of the Opera (a year earlier than The Black Pirate) ballroom scenes was shot in 2-strip Technicolor. I find "The Toll of the Sea" 1922 was the first to use the 2-strip Technicolor process. Even the 1923 "The Ten Commandments" has Technicolor scenes. Probably "The Black Pirate" was the first movie shot entirely in color?
Posted February 15 2006 - 09:15 AM
The first featre shot with Technicolor was THE GULF BETWEEN (now lost), using their additive process. TOLL OF THE SEA was the first feature to be processed entirely in their double-cemented subtractive process.
Posted February 15 2006 - 10:18 AM
DIXIANA ( 1930 ) has some nice 2 Strip Technicolor sequences in it. The very early 3 strip short LA CUCARACHA is also on that DVD. I think that Paramount's early 3 strip Technicolored TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE may have had some recent restoration, as a print shown here on Digital cable looked absolutely stunning. Let's hope that Paramount or Universal ( whoever holds the Video rights ) gets around to releasing it. I want KING OF JAZZ. Please Universal.
Posted February 15 2006 - 10:20 AM
Howard Hughes' "Hell's Angels" 1930 has a Technicolor sequence in it too... the only color footage of Jean Harlow.
Posted February 15 2006 - 10:34 AM
The Laserdisc Box Sets of THE DAWN OF SOUND has many 2 strip Colored sequences in them, including the only existing color footage of 1929's lost GOLD DIGGERS OF BROADWAY. Which I think I read somewhere is going to be included on an upcoming Warner's Busby Berkeley DVD. Also the only surviving 2 strip color footage from 1929's lost THE ROGUE SONG, I believe might be included on Warner's up-coming Laurel and Hardy Set.
Posted February 15 2006 - 02:23 PM
I gather then, that you've seen the American-edited version? but not on home video?
Posted February 15 2006 - 02:37 PM
I mean filmed in natural color, such as it was back then. I would list hand-tinted films, that is films that were colored after the fact, separately. I have a notion to petition the studios to release early color films that survive or are restored in some way. Just gathering the facts.
Posted February 15 2006 - 03:39 PM
By the way, Hell's Angels has to be one of the best video transfers from Universal. No extras to speak of, but UCLA's magnificent restoration is just beautiful. The shots of the German zepplin going down were digitally colorized to re-create the stencil-color applied in 1930. As a result, it's just amazing to look at.
Posted February 15 2006 - 05:53 PM
FWIW, the color scene in HELL'S ANGELS was shot in Multicolor, Howard Hughes' system that he bought, but because Multicolor couldn't strike enough prints in time, the scene was outsourced to Technicolor, whose print is what you see on the restoration. BTW, Multicolor in a couple of years spawned the ultimate 2-color system-- Cinecolor. RE: The Black Pirate Yes, The Museum of Modern Art has a print in black and white. The pacing of the film is much stronger in this version, and one can see in an A/B comparison that the takes that are used in the American edition are the better of the two.
Posted February 16 2006 - 12:52 AM
The King of Jazz is a title that I would love to see on DVD. I remember seeing it years ago in a bad VHS copy. It has a Walter Lantz cartoon sequence that was the first time Technicolor was used for animation. The original Technicolor camera negative of the 1930 Paramount title Follow Thru exists (very rare). I saw a clip from this at the Film Forum in New York City last year at a lecture given by Bob Gitt. It looks amazing. Please release. I guess Universal has the rights. As stated before, The Dawn of Sound laserdisc sets have a lot of Technicolor clips; very cool. Dixiana has the La Cucaracha short as a bonus. I think it is still available. The Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 3 has one two color short I Haven't Got a Hat (from the original camera negative). It was the first appearance of Porky Pig. Looks great. I think the Eddie Cantor musical Kid Millions is due out from MGM/Sony. It has a garish 3 strip finale. Let's not forget the Disney Treasures, particularly the Silly Symphonies one. OOP, but you can still get it on E-bay. Lastly, there is a very informative documentary Glorious Technicolor as a bonus on The Adventures of Robin Hood. By the way, 2 strip is a commonly used misnomer; the process actually only used one negative.
Posted February 16 2006 - 01:23 AM
The rights are in limbo right now. Neither Universal nor Paramount claim to own the rights, and when you ask them, they point fingers to each other. Until someone figures it out, UCLA will not be releasing their restoration.
Posted February 16 2006 - 03:33 AM
THE TOLL OF THE SEA (1922) would be the earliest natural color film on DVD, unless somewhere there are scattered Kinemacolor clips included as part of a documentary.
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