Colorized Movies

Joe Hawks posted 12/04/05 08:08 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I wish I knew why Holiday Inn was not filmed in color. Christmas is the brightest of all seasons. Perhaps someone really knows the truth.
Dave Duncan posted 12/04/05 09:17 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Paramount filmed 'Holiday Inn' in 1942 at the height of WW2. At that time BW was the least expensive process with 3 strip Technocolor being very expensive and reserved for big budget films only. At the time of shooting they had no idea of the hit the film would become so it received the standard production treatment.
Jon O. posted 12/10/05 09:05 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Movies that were shot in bw were literally art directed and designed for the best possible results IN BLACK AND WHITE. Any alteration or injection of fake color to a bw print completely destroys the intended effect. Black and white prints simply do not translate well to color. Shooting in color, if done properly by a knowledgeable DP, requires different lighting, set design, and even wardrobe from bw. It's a horse of a different color. To this day I've never seen a movie that was "successfully" colorized, simply because it was never MEANT to be done.
Carmela posted 12/10/05 09:22 PM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
I like some films better colorized and some I perfer the BW version. I thought "March of the Wooden Soldiers" was more enjoyable colorized simply because I was able to notice the sets and backgroungds more. Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone I still like to veiw in BW instead of color, it captures the mood better. I would love a colorized version of "Going Hollywood" because of some of the fancy costumes in the movie. About Paramount, they had two men making some BW movies for them when all of their movies should have been in color because of their beautiful eyes-Bing Crosby and Steve McQueen.
Ron Field posted 12/11/05 04:24 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I saw a colourised version of 'Key Largo' and it was awful. Bright blue walls etc. There are just some films that don't work in colour. "Third Man" and those Hitchcock films and the Brits were brilliant for BW dramatic pictures. I think "The Bells of St. Mary's" has been colourised too. Why do you need colour for Nuns and Priests anyway?
Lee posted 12/13/05 09:52 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
If any film was made for color it was Holiday Inn. It was the standard of the day then to shoot all films in b/w, it was the cheapest way too. As is the standard of today to shoot films in color. It was not an artisic dareing move to shoot a film in b/w, it was the standard. I love any and all movies colorized. If you have seen the new versions of the colorized Sherlock Holmes movies, Woman In Green or Secret Weapon, then you could never say colorized never works, not only does it work but it looks beautiful. Take a look at the great color jobs done on the Bewitched Seasons 1 and 2 that are now out on DVD. Tell me that that color doesn't look real. When colorization started out 20 years ago, the method wasn't perfected, and that unfortunately is what everyone can't get out of their heads. They are still judging colorization by the bad Hal Roach video tapes that came out then. One of the first films colorized was "It's A Wonderful Life". It was badly colored by Colorization, Inc. They turned the movie into various shades of brown and blue. Several years later it war re-colorized by American Film Technologies on Republic brand video and it looked beautiful. Today Legend Films is doing a absolutely fantastic job of coloring old drab b/w movies, see their marvelous work for your self at:

I have ordered almost every colorized movie they have put out and each one looks fantastic. The Sherlock Holmes movies are a work of art and beauty. The House On Haunted Hill is great and perfect in color. Please stop the anti-colorization talk, Colorizing is not your father's colorization any more, the technology has advanced so much that you can't tell that a film was originally b/w now. Each and every object in the film is assigned a separate color, no more orange skin and teeth and eyes, today teeth are white, eyes blue and eye brows brown. Colorization today looks fantastic and I only pray that one day Holiday Inn WILL be colorized, this film is just screaming for color. And for the fuddy duddy politically correct crowd that pretend to prefer lifeless dull old looking b/w, turn the color down on your set and don't take the enjoyment of a modern looking color picture away from the rest of us. And for those fuddy duddys, Legend Films even has come up with a way to satisfy you, they incluce the ugly b/w version of the film along with their beautiful color version on the same DVD. Colorization is just now starting to come back after being scared off for 10 years by the oh so snobby politically correct elitists who pretend to love b/w over color. They're not fooling anyone, no person would rather watch a old looking b/w picture over a beautiful color picture. If b/w was so great, why are all the covers of b/w films on DVD always shown in color? They never put b/w pictures on covers of DVDs of b/w movies, always color pictures. Why, because color is more attractive and they fool the average Joe into thinking they're buying a color film with a color picture on the DVD. I love my colorized "Casablanca" and my colorized Laurel and Hardy's and my colorized Key Largo and my colorized 3 Stooges. They're great, now if they'd only colorized "Citizen Kane" I'd watch it again. Meantime, Holiday Inn is the one film that really NEEDS colorizing. Imagine the sets they sing and dance in front of in color, imagine seeing Bing sing White Christmas for the first time on Holiday Inn in color. Wow, please MCA, colorize Holiday Inn, I'm beggin' ya.
Lee posted 12/13/05 03:21 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
While it may be true that some films were made in b/w for an artistic purpose, I would say 99% of all films made in the '30's and '40's and '50's were made b/w because it was the standard practice and it was a cheaper practice. Color cameras were huge heavy and expensive things back then, it was a lot easier and a lot cooler on the set to shoot in b/w. Color cameras back then needed a lot of hot lighting. Color was used only for special films like Gone with The Wind or For Whom the Bells Ring, You'll never convince me that b/w was used for artisic purposes and not because it was the standard of the day. Just as color film is the standard of today. You don't think the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids was made in color for artisic purposes do you? Well, the same story went for back in the old days, except it was b/w that was standard instead of color that's standard today. Hence why I think all b/w films should be colorized. Those who pretend to like lifeless drab b/w are welcome to it, the rest who like to watch old films look new again and relevant to today would like to see them colorized. Watching Laurel and Hardy in color is like watching a new film of them instead of an ancient relic of the past. Same with all b/w movies, once they're in color they look more modern and relevant to today's audience. There isn't a single b/w TV show or movie I can think of I'd rather see in b/w. I only wish coloring b/w films and TV shows was more popular today. I'd love to see The Honeymooners and Leave It To Beaver in color. And Bingwise, there isn't a single Bing movie that more screams out for color than Holiday Inn. You can almost see the colors now as you watch the b/w images. Even a die-hard b/w viewer would have to admit Holiday Inn was a movie that, if made today, and if not made during the war-time years when elements were scarce and expensive, Holiday Inn WOULD have been filmed in color. The only reason it's in b/w is becasue it was cheaper to do it that way, it was the standard then and it was war-time and color films were harder to get materials to produce. Holiday Inn was not filmed in b/w because of artisitc reasons, any more than "The Kranks" is filmed in color for artistic reasons.
Ron Field posted 12/13/05 05:04 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
You still can't beat some of the dramatic film shot in bw for the shadows and intenseness of the film. The old gangster films were great, a lot of thought. These days the films are too explicit for their own good. I don't like seeing blood splattered everywhere. The old films a bloke got shot and you just saw a dab on his shirt etc. Now they seem to think they have to have the body torn apart. Black and white is good for what it was and colour is good for what it is too.
The musicals were always good in colour especially MGM films. They were number one in that field.
Lars posted 12/14/05 02:12 AM Central Time (US)     No E-mail no email address given
I agree with Lee, there's not one movie (or TV-series) that I would not prefer to watch in color. They've really improved the process. I was a bit confused by the "Bewitched" boxed set of season one as I was quite sure the early season was in bw only. But when I started watching it was in great color. A nice suprise!

I'm always trying to find the colorized version of the old classic movies. I was happy to learn that the newly released DVD of the classic King Kong includes both versions. I haven't seen the colorized Sherlock Holmes movies but I love Laurel and Hardy in color. It's a lot easier to reach a new public for the classic movies if they're in color. Let's colorize it all - movies and TV'shows alike. I've never bought that arty talk about BW movies - like the statement that film noire movies has to be in bw. Life is in true color so why should we have to watch b and w movies when it's technically possibly turn them into color? Even when some of my closest friends argue against me it doesn't matter. I will never change my mind on this subject.

I haven't found the colorized CASABLANCA yet but I look forward to the day I do. HOLIDAY INN in color would be a dream come true. Of course I'd like all Bing's movies to be colorized. And the TV shows too for that matter!!!! Especially those originallly made in color where only b and w prints seem to exist today.

I intend to get the colorized King Kong on DVD and watch it with the kids soon (I don't care about all the re-makes they do today, I prefer the originals.) It will be so much easier get the kids interested in my favorite classic movies if they're in color. Try to explain to the kids about the artistic reasons for a movie to be shown in black and white when it could be enjoyed in color. Just keep the color coming! And Lee, I couldn't tell that "Bewitched" was colorized.
Ben Weaver posted 12/14/05 10:40 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I agree that "Holiday Inn" would look great colorized. But I'm not so sure about one of my favourite westerns,"High Noon", which brought Gary Cooper his second best actor award. The movie, in b/w, won Best Picture in 1952.
Lee posted 12/15/05 12:35 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I must be a progressive thinker. I also like "modernized" remix versions of old songs, in particular, the remix versions of Christmas songs, inc. Bing's White Christmas which has been recently remixed. Love the new version too. But that's a whole other bag of worms I don't want to get into. Not if it means another endless go-round even after I agree to disagree.

Yes, all b/w films and TV shows should be colorized. Will it ever happen? Unfortunately, no, due to the fuddy-duddy political correct types who refuse to admit they'd rather watch a movie colored than drab in the b/w. Colorizing is much better than plain b/w for the 100's of reasons I've reiterated time and time again here. Now do we really need to keep rehashing our differing views?
Mike O posted 12/15/05 12:39 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Maybe filmmakers of the 30s and 40s did use black and white film because it was cheaper than color, but they didn't just point the camera and shoot. The really good ones worked long and hard to give the image on the screen depth and texture. They made films knowing that the images were going to be in black and white and they did their best to make sure those images looked just right on the big screen.
Colorized movies always look like someone painted over a black and white photograph to me.
Lee posted 12/15/05 01:10 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I said the same thing previously, I know b/w film makers didn't just point and shoot, I said the exact same thing. But also that not only was color expensive, the lighting for color films back then had to be extremely bright and also very hot and color cameras were huge, needing 2 or 3 people to handle them. Using b/w film avoided all these problems. Also the main point that you seem to have missed is b/w film was the STANDARD then, it was "the way to make a movie". Just as today color is the standard and the "way to make a movie". Mike, I defy you to watch an episode from Season 2 of Bewitched the colorized version, and tell me it looks like someone painted over a b/w picture. I dare you to watch a Bewitched color episode from Season 2 and report that it looks the way you say. Back in the old days of coloring, you're right, face was colored orange, including the teeth and eyes. It did look like they just water-colored over a picture. It USED to look unreal. I emphasize USED TO. Take my dare and watch a Bewitched Season 2 colorized episode and you will swear you're watching an originally filmed in color program. Coloring movies today as I said earlier is a vastly improved art and no longer shoudl be judged the way it used to look in the 1980's, 20 years ago. Technology has marched along since then. You really need to watch an example of something that has been NEWLY colorized, like Bewitched Seasons 1 and 2 and you will not be able to tell it was not shot in color to begin with. And unlike the enemies of color I am not saying you must only watch color versions, if you like b/w, by all means continue to watch. I just wish the attitude was mutual to those of us who'd rather watch a b/w program or movie in color. Instead of working to ban colorization it should be promoted as a welcome alternative to the dated drabness of b/w.
Arne posted 12/15/05 03:50 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
I am of "two minds" on this issue.....

Colorization, in and of itself, doesn't really bother me, and I find the technology fascinating. I own exactly TWO colorized movies on tape. Laurel and Hardy's "Way Out West" (looks terrible) and L and H's "Babes In Toyland" (looks splendid). I understand that the british Laurel and Hardy box set (which won't be released in America because Hallmark, the copyright owners of L and H films here, are humongous stinkers) features colorized AND BW versions of most all the films. That's fine with me, I think it's kind of cool.

But there is one aspect of the colorization issue that rankles me, philosophically speaking: It is pandering to the lowest common denominator: those who opt for form over content; the people, usually youngsters I encounter, who say "I just can't watch anything in BW, it's too ishy.... But I'll watch anything if it's in color".... How can anyone with a brain in their head be more interested in something because of it's "tint" for cripes sakes, rather than if the subject matter is attractive to them? Have they no firm tastes? Interests? Passions? I've often heard it said that it's the only way to get young people to pay attention to vintage films (to color them). Personally, I think that anyone who would watch something JUST BECAUSE it's "colored", or would refuse to watch something they might enjoy JUST BECAUSE it NOT colored, is a moron, young or old. Who cares if people like this become interested in vintage material or not?

Of course, this all leads up to the bigger issue: The fact that, regardless of the tint of the things, some people in every generation will be of the type to develop a curiosity about vintage material, and will seek it out, colorized or not. The majority, however, could give a rip about anything that isn't the latest thing.

So I guess I feel this way: If the color turns you on, Lee, you should be able to enjoy it; after all it just enhances the experience for you - we know you'd be watching the movies in BW too, because you are an appreciator of the material itself. But the individuals who will watch something (anything) only if it's in color - and the corporations who pander to them for this reason - I personally find mildly contemptible.
Shirley Chiang posted 12/15/05 04:00 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
While I agree that the techniques involved in colorization have improved dramatically since the 1980s, the thing about it that still irks me is that no matter what, colorization is still a subjective process. The colorized version of a movie may have been done so well that it looks like it was originally shot in color. However, the people in charge of the colorization can just assign any random color to the furniture, clothing, etc. Thus, the original artistic intentions of the director can be completely misinterpreted. Colorization companies can say that they've done research and chose the colors corresponding to studio props, or wardrobe, but this is still a futile attempt. The props and wardrobe chosen for black and white movies were chosen just according to how well they photographed in black and white, the different shades were what was important, not the actual color. So if consistency is actually gone after, as Roger Ebert said, "colorized versions should paint the actorsí faces light green, the color of makeup that was applied so they would photograph better in black and white."

No matter how well done the colorization, it is still not the "real deal", just somebody's interpretation of how the movie looks.
Ronald Sarbo posted 12/15/05 04:24 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
"Holiday Inn" is PERFECT in BW.

Their is an element of sadness or longing in each of the characters that sometimes gives it a "Film Noir" quality.

This is what is missing in "White Christmas" which was filmed in color.
Lee posted 12/15/05 04:39 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
You're right Arne, it's the British Laurel and Hardy Box Set that I have that does feature both color and b/w versions. And I also agree that "Way Out West" color job was terrible. It was also done in 1985 by the worst colorers around, "Colorization, Inc.". They were however one of the first colorers, and unfortunately, these poorly colorized versions are what most people remember seeing and therefore make their judgement that colorization doesn't work. Babes In Toyland, however, the other great Laurel and Hardy film was colorized several years later by a company that knew what it was doing and the color version of Babes... looks beautiful. I will indeed watch b/w movies and have been doing so for a long time. However, that doesn't mean I wish I couldn't see color versions of them. I do. I remember back in the early '70's getting a small statue of Humphrey Bogart and it was in color. I used to look at it and imagine if the b/w movies were in color that Bogie did and how great that would have been. About 15 years later many of the Bogart movies were colorized and this was literally a dream come true for me. When I was a little kid I had a coloring book of Laurel and Hardy, I remeber coloring their suits bright blue and ties yellow just imagining what they would look like in anything other than black and gray. 20 years later Laurel and Hardy were finally colorized and once again this was a dream come true for me. So you see I have been wishing and imagining b/w movies being in color ever since the 1960's. So you will have to pardon my enthusiasm if I seem to ignore the fine points and qualities of b/w. I realize b/w when it's done with thought is indeed an artform. Greta Garbo's b/w still photos are truly works of art. But 90% of all b/w films are not meant to be Garbo b/w portraits of beauty. They're simply b/w because it was the standard of the day. Given the choice I prefer a color picture over b/w. I even have one colorized version of a Garbo movie, and I wish all Garbo's movies were colorized now.

To Shirley, any image in color is the real deal. Provided they're not coloring skin green as you suggest. What is really not the real deal is b/w. When's the last time you met someone who was b/w. Are mountains and trees b/w? What's so real about b/w? Color is more real than any b/w image. I would think this was obvious. The "interpreters" of color when it's done properly, as with Bewitched and Babes in Toyland, are creating reality out of a non-existant b/w world. They are to be saluted and encouraged.

Ron, Holiday Inn a film noir? I never would have come up with that definition. Now come on Ron, you have to admit when you watch Holiday Inn you really can almost see the colors on the set as you watch. You can't see that red heart in the Valentine set? You can't see the red, white and blue in the July 4th number's set? Let's be honest. Those colors are almost bursting out of even the drab b/w picture. Holiday Inn is the one Bing movie of all of them that demands color. Don't you wish you could enjoy Holiday Inn the way you can enjoy "Dixie" in color? Or is "Dixie" a movie that should have been in b/w too? If they filmed Dixie in color, there's no reason, other than it was the "standard of the day" that they couldn't have filmed all of Bing's movies in color.
Ronald Sarbo posted 12/15/05 06:35 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
It seems at this time of year we always discuss "Holiday Inn" but something that I don't believe has ever been mentioned is that Elmer Rice wrote the screenplay.

Rice also wrote "Street Scene" and "The Adding Machine" and other dark depression era plays and worked with the Group Theater and The Federal Theater Project.

"Holiday Inn" has a "dark" quality that goes with BW.

Crosby and Astaire bring out the worst impulses in each other throughout the film and in their relationships with the women in the story.

Of course this is a musical and it has a happy ending but this strain of sadness and longing continues and develops into a story about "obsessive" love in "Blue Skies".
Jon O. posted 12/15/05 07:08 PM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Martin Scorsese was inspired by that "obsessive" love theme in "Blue Skies", along with Bing's compulsive behavior in the film. The result was his "New York, New York", a "noir" musical if there ever was one.
Ronald Sarbo posted 12/16/05 07:37 AM Central Time (US)    E-mail contact the author directly
Bing's 2 films with Astaire are also great examples of why Bing was so beloved by the "Regular Guys" of the world.

If clothes do indeed make the man by rights Bing should have been no competition for Astaire. Bing's suits look right "off the rack" with an extra pair of pants from Bonds while Astaire's are custom-made and hand-sewn.

"Holiday Inn" and "Blue Skies" represent the end of an era: the art-deco elegance of the 30's that Astaire personified and the dawn of the era after the war of the "Average Joe" that Bing personified.

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