The whole debate over the look of Hammer's DRACULA has got me thinking about the archivists approach to color restoration. I'm curious to get your opinions on this issue.
In March 1952, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET CAPTAIN KIDD was photographed by Stanley Cortez on standard Eastman color negative. The release prints were made later that year in the new SuperCinecolor three color process consisting of red, blue and yellow. It was basically an extension of their two color system with the addition of a yellow record.
As you can see in the image below, the initial SuperCinecolor palette did not faithfully replicate certain colors. For instance, note the green hat that Lou is wearing. In the original 35mm prints, the hat is blue.
This film was one of the first three color releases by Cinecolor and they quickly refined the system. By the time INVADERS FROM MARS was printed for release in April 1953, green was well represented in the martian costumes.
The original color camera negative for KIDD is long gone. About twenty years ago, I found the three color separation masters in England. I was able to acquire them and they were donated to the UCLA Film Archive. In 2002, Bob Gitt and Cinetech did preservation work. Three color Cinecolor does not conform to standard YCM specifications as used by the Technicolor lab and Cinetech had a very difficult time replicating an accurate color palette from the separation elements.
The new element looked very good in the nighttime and exterior scenes which originally had a strong blue bias. However, the daytime exterior shots did not turn out as well and have a pastel look.
The UCLA restoration was finally released on DVD in the Warner Archive series in 2011. Unfortunately, it's a straight transfer from the 35mm preservation element with no further attempt at color correction.
Here are three frames as a comparison; the first is from a 1952 SuperCinecolor print; the second is from the UCLA restoration and the third is my humble attempt to color correct in Photoshop.
Which do you prefer?
Do you feel the film should be restored and seen exactly as it appeared theatrically in 1952, or should it look as close as possible to the actual color during principal photography?