CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

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David Alp
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CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by David Alp » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:10 pm

Anyway; So I have just finished watching the 1934 version of "CLEOPATRA" starring Claudette Colbert and made by C.B. DeMille. I've had the DVD for about 4 years, but have never got around to watching it - (It's from the C.B. DeMille box-set of Cecil B Demille Collection [DVD] [1934] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]). Anyway I thought it a very opulent film; full of massive set pieces and amazing costumes. The opening credits even featured some clever nudity that was hidden by shadows, and how this got by the Hays Code is anyone's guess? I suppose because the Hays Code was brand new, it somehow got through?

Anyway, the only thing I thought was lacking was Technicolor! This film is literally screaming out for Technicolor; with all of those stunning costumes; and lavish sets etc, why was it not shot in colour? This was 1934; so the first 3-strip movies were just coming out; but even if DeMille couldn't afford 3-Strip, I think it warranted 2-strip Technicolor. DeMille had already used 2-Strip to wonderful display in his 1927 silent film "KING OF KINGS" in the first and last reels of the roadshow print; so why did he not use it here?

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Donald Binks » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:24 pm

Anyway, the only thing I thought was lacking was Technicolor! This film is literally screaming out for Technicolor; with all of

There are a lot of pictures made in monochrome that would have looked wonderful in colour and I think of works such as "Lost Horizon", "The Prisoner of Zenda" and some of the 1930's musicals - but they were so carefully and masterfully crafted in black and white that they are still very enjoyable. I think that we are so used to having everything these days in colour that we lose sight of the fact that it was a rare occurrence at one time.

Probably the main reason why studios didn't leap into colour was the fact that audiences weren't screaming for it as they were with sound. So, if the studios could get away with still making monochromatic pictures, they would. One also has to think of how unwieldy photographing in Technicolor was - have a look at the size of the cameras! Lighting had to be increased to such an extent it became like working in a sauna and a lot of actors fainted in the heat. Also, the cost was astronomical - would the returns justify the extra cost?

Of course, there is way around the problem - and that is by having the pictured coloured by computer processes, but this has been stopped because of a perceived interference. (I am not getting into an argument here!) :D

The thing I remember most about "Cleopatra" - apart from the lasciviousness is the haunting and evocative music.
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David Alp
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by David Alp » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:14 pm

Yes Don; the music was amazing for a 1934 picture. In fact I think it was one of the first to have an original score? with "KING KONG" the year before starting the trend.

I hate and loathe colourization; so would detest to see the film colourized! Unless they can literally replicate Technicolor to the nth degree then forget it! I remember a few years ago all the hullabaloo about "SHE" (1935) being colourized by (I think?) Ray Harryhausen? And all of the fuss about it looking like "Real colour", and how they had finally succeeded in reproducing proper colour. Anyway so I bought the DVD, (just because of this new colourization technique, that was supposed to be so marvellous, and I prepared myself to be knocked away), but it was terrible! I think we still have a good 20 or 30 years to go before they can perfect colourizing. Look at all of the cruddy colourized Shirely Temple films??

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Spiny Norman
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Spiny Norman » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:25 pm

It was of course a bit tacky, but that's part of the charm.


Apart from anything else (I am in favour of colourisation Wonderful Life-style = a bonus disc with an acceptable, computer colourised version) DeMille is totally out of favour. His films are released late and don't include any real bonus features. Browsing through a few archives it's evident that there are a few film diaries / interviews on the set / behind the scenes things that still exist and would make ideal extras. But that didn't happen, let alone that anyone would take the trouble to add colour.
Pity. I've heard it claimed that DeMille was capable of much more than campy costume stuff. Who knows, maybe he'll be one day rediscovered and reappreciated.


The Mexican "La vida íntima de Marcantonio y Cleopatra" is a comic take on this specific Cleopatra movie, judging by the looks of it.
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Donald Binks » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:25 pm

I hate and loathe colourization; so would detest to see the film colourized! Unless they can literally replicate Technicolor to


Hi Dave, well, as I said, I didn't wish to get into an argument about colouring. There are too many forthright opinions about the subject and it has been a subject flogged to death. I think it's wonderful that such a thing is possible - but like you, what I have seen of a lot of it thus far is that it doesn't render colour in an appealing manner. Everything looks flat and rather washed out. As you say, maybe in another few years it may come up to a higher standard and be able to match the vibrancy that was Technicolor - that is, if anyone is allowed to do it.
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by entredeuxguerres » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:35 pm

David Alp wrote:I hate and loathe colourization; so would detest to see the film colourized!...Look at all of the cruddy colourized Shirely Temple films??
No question about the cruddiness of those, but they represent old, old-school colorization. Colorization of any originally B&W picture is one thing (verboten!), but re-colorization of the many pictures originally filmed in some early color process, but surviving today only in B&W prints, is another, & worthy of serious consideration, especially if care was taken to reproduce the original color-spectrum.

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by entredeuxguerres » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:42 pm

Spiny Norman wrote: ...I've heard it claimed that DeMille was capable of much more than campy costume stuff. Who knows, maybe he'll be one day rediscovered and reappreciated.
In my case, that day had dawned: most of his silents I love.

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Donald Binks » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:57 pm

Colorization of any originally B&W picture is one thing (verboten!), but re-colorization of the many pictures originally filmed in some early color process, but surviving today only in B&W prints, is another, & worthy of serious consideration, especially if care was taken to reproduce the original color-spectrum.


That's a very good point and one that could not really be argued against by the "purists". Might I also suggest that the colouring process could be used to "help along" some of the faded or otherwise non-pristine two colour Technicolor prints?
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she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by All Darc » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:02 pm

I supose they could make a new colorization, looking closer to technicolor than any colorization before.

But... It would need to get all depth masks, get each character and backgrounds in a 3D field, to be able to add color reflex (even than discreet)and more color variable to each thing. Skin tones would require more variances, for neck, cheak, ears, so each zone would need a separated mask (with depth too).

They would also need to "re-shade" change the brightness values for some things in order to be able to add a saturated color, cause a faint color, a too dark or too bright cannot look very saturated.

The overal contrast would need to be changed, to look less contrasting.

And you just can't change some Strong make-up. Look some Chaplin early shorts, with a very heavy make-up. it would never look like a 40's technicolor (even if you change the brightness of the skin area) because the make-up was very diferent.

All this would be much more expansive than the actual/usual colorization works made for DVD edition.


To use colorization technology to add a full rainbow to a 2 color based system it's interesting... It could work fine, as it woul not be completelly colorized, but would change a bit the color hues for each object, while trying to keep some of the original color variances.

Colorize a 2color system film that survived in a B&W copy may not be possible, cause many B&W copies was not shot from a color print but from only one color channel of the film. The Photoplay DVD of The Phantom of The opera tried to colorize a short segment of Ball Mask that surived just in B&W, sing the technicolor surviving scenes as reference. But the footage thay colorized was from alternates originally shot in B&W. The film had technicolor scenes but all these scenes was also shot in B&W stock.

For example, Beck Sharp (3 color system) had many B&W prints made from just the magenta channel.
Last edited by All Darc on Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Donald Binks » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:11 pm

All Darc wrote:I supose they could make a new colorization, looking closer to technicolor than any colorization before.

But... It would need to get all depth masks, get each character and backgrounds in a 3D field, to be able to add color reflex (even than discreet)and more color variable to each thing. Skin tones would require more variances, for neck, cheak, ears, so each zone would need a separated mask (with depth too).

They would also need to "re-shade" change the brightness values for some things in order to be able to add a saturated color, cause a faint color, a too dark or too bright cannot look very saturated.

The overal contrast would need to be changed, to look less contrasting.

All this would be much more expansive than the actual usual colorization Works made for DVD edition.


To use colorization technology to add a full raibow to a 2 color based system it's interesting... It could work fone, as it woul not be compeltelly colorized, but would change a bit the color hues for each object,, while trying to keep some of the original color variances.

Colorize a 2color system film that survived in a B&W copy may not be possible, cause many B&W copies was not shot from a color print but from only one color channel of the film.
For example, Beck Sharp (3 color system) had many B&W prints made from just the magenta channel.


It all sounds frightfully complicated, and by the same token, quite an expensive proposition. It would be a question of whether there would be sufficient bucks in for bucks out if anyone was thinking of doing it on a commercial footing.

The purists would have a field day with anyone wanting to turn a two colour Technicolor picture into a full three colour one.! :D
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she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by All Darc » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:17 pm

Get a screen capture of a 2 color technicolor film from late 40's. If you mask each object in Photoshop, you can try to alter the color of each one to look more natural. The "gree cyan" sky (typical of color in 2 color system) can be adjusted pushin the hues to looks blue again. The skin that may look a bit pushed to rose or magenta, can be adjusted to look warm again. The oranges of something suposed to be red can be fixed to turn red.

This is the basic. indeed more complex adjusts or even the co mbination (overlay) of new coloring for some objects, could be done.
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Harold Aherne » Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:40 pm

David Alp wrote:Anyway, the only thing I thought was lacking was Technicolor! This film is literally screaming out for Technicolor; with all of those stunning costumes; and lavish sets etc, why was it not shot in colour? This was 1934; so the first 3-strip movies were just coming out; but even if DeMille couldn't afford 3-Strip, I think it warranted 2-strip Technicolor.
Cleopatra was filmed between March and May 1934, when live-action 3-strip had barely gotten off the ground. The Cat and the Fiddle and The House of Rothschild had 3-strip colour inserts up to that point, but even the earliest live-action 3-strip short films didn't start until April and May.

The added cost and relatively untested nature of live-action 3-strip couldn't have made it an attractive proposition. Paramount's finances were shaky at the time and DeMille's career was recovering from some recent flops. Even with the success of The Sign of the Cross and This Day and Age, his most recent work, Four Frightened People, lost money. After 1934, DeMille made only two more films set in modern times. See Bob Birchard's Cecil B. DeMille's Hollywood for more information.

Very little was being done with with 2-colour Tech in terms of feature films by that point. Warners released Doctor X and Mystery of the Wax Museum; Below the Sea and Broadway to Hollywood had inserts; and Henry de la Falaise was shooting Legong and Kliou in southeast Asia. Actually, I think 1934 was the only year post-1927 that not a single all-Technicolor feature was released (excluding the post-IB years).

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Spiny Norman » Sat Apr 26, 2014 4:32 am

Donald Binks wrote:Hi Dave, well, as I said, I didn't wish to get into an argument about colouring. There are too many forthright opinions about the subject and it has been a subject flogged to death.
Too late!
But about it being flogged to death, well, many arguments go back to the '80s that no longer apply at all. Maybe once there was a threat that henceforth we would only get to see the badly done colour versions - even then I suspect many artists protested not on principle but because they were bypassed (financially too).
But that didn't happen, so if today there is an optional colour version in the box set, for those who want it, what's wrong with that?

Movies are dubbed into many foreign languages on a daily basis, for exactly the same reason (to bring it closed to the audience). Is changing the entire audio track really that different from changing the visual? I know, it may feel different because you never have to watch an Italian or Russian or Spanish dub. But you don't have to watch any colourised movie either.

People who still use strong words like 'vandalism' or 'sin' when talking about this are making fools of themselves, repeating the same old war cries that no longer apply. No-one has ever been able to explain to me why that verdict would apply ONLY to colourisation, and not to other forms of remastering, dubbing, or georgelucassing.

That said, it would take some getting used to to see DeMille's Cleopatra in colour...
But I watched the colour version of "She" and I don't know if I really missed something by not choosing b/w.
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by entredeuxguerres » Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:49 am

Spiny Norman wrote: ...But I watched the colour version of "She" and I don't know if I really missed something by not choosing b/w.
Ample sin & vandalism is on display in the '35 She, but it has nothing to do with colorization. Rather, it's the result of Merian Cooper's fatuous presumption that he knew better than Rider Haggard how to tell the story. Casting looser Helen Gahagan compounded the felony.

Wish I'd watched the colorized variant instead of the B&W--might have made it seem less disagreeable.

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Spiny Norman » Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:26 am

entredeuxguerres wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: ...But I watched the colour version of "She" and I don't know if I really missed something by not choosing b/w.
Ample sin & vandalism is on display in the '35 She, but it has nothing to do with colorization. Rather, it's the result of Merian Cooper's fatuous presumption that he knew better than Rider Haggard how to tell the story. Casting looser Helen Gahagan compounded the felony.

Wish I'd watched the colorized variant instead of the B&W--might have made it seem less disagreeable.
Exactly. You may be part joking but with so many ways in which a movie can go wrong, an optional colour version is the least of my worries? It depends on the movie of course how appropriate it may be. Pride & prejudice (1940) is another one that would work well in colour.

In fact early colour didn't always look great either. I was watching yet another pulp film, The three musketeers (1948) and my companions were convinced it was colourised until I told them it wasn't, but it really looked that way.
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by BGM » Sat Apr 26, 2014 9:34 pm

The Cleopatra 75th Anniversary dvd from 2009 has a many bonus features including a great commentary as well as extras such as a DeMille documentary and a precode documentary.

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Bob Birchard » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:55 am

People who still use strong words like 'vandalism' or 'sin' when talking about this are making fools of themselves, repeating the same old war cries that no longer apply. No-one has ever been able to explain to me why that verdict would apply ONLY to colourisation, and not to other forms of remastering, dubbing, or georgelucassing.

That said, it would take some getting used to to see DeMille's Cleopatra in colour...
But I watched the colour version of "She" and I don't know if I really missed something by not choosing b/w.
I first bagan to think about colorizing films when I was a teenager back in the 1960s. My reasoning was that since the beginning of widespread use of panchromatic B & W film in the late 1920s it might be possible to reconstruct color based on the grey scale rendition of those colors. It other words, if you could determine (or assign) a single color value to a specific shade of grey, it might be posible in the future to automatically (likely with some tweaking) reconstruct the natural colors of B & W films. And later, I had some interest (as a consumer) in the development of colorization, and bought into the notion that since the nearly universal transition to color TV, there were many who would not watch B & W movies on general principal.

Two things changed my mind, however.

The first was that those who were colorizing movies were doing titles like "Casablanca" or "The Maltese Falcon," films that continued to play regularly on TV in B & W. I saw no effort to colorize the 1930 RKO programmers, or other commercially marginal product, and decided that the real motive behind colorization was to, yes, make some B & W titles more accessible to modern audiences, but primarily to artificially extend copyright protection by eventually making only the new colorized versions available. I think this notion has panned out in that since copyright has been extended from 56 to 95 years there has been little clamor to colorize their film libraries on the part of the major studios (with some exceptions--Shirley Temple, Disney's Zorro, etc.)

The second, and this was going on concurrently for me, is that I actually learned something about the aethetics of B & W cinematography by reading Carles G. Clarke's "Professional Cinematography" and John Alton's "Painting With Light" and also getting to know cinematographers like Hal Rosson, Arthur Miller, Karl Struss, John Alton, L. Guy Wilky, Virgil Miller, Gilbert Warrenton and others, and coming to realize that while many of these people did not have a choice about whether they would shoot in monochrome or color, they were all aware that shooting in B & W was different than "real life," and they designed the lighting of their films to take advabtage of B & W's assets.

I also came to realize that B & W production design was different than color production design. There are many examples I could cite, but to pick one obvious and familiar one, for the B & W episodes of the Superman TV series starring George Reeves, the Superman costume was actually brown rather than blue, because it registered better on B & W film. When you add to this that B & W cinematographers consistely used colored contrast filters when shooting outdoors--yellow for general correction, red for darkening skies and lightening faces (and in conjuction with under expoure to create day-for-night effects), my notion that color might be reconstructed from B & W was an unrealistic flight of fancy

I would also add that color production design was different in decades past based upon the technology of the times. I remember going to see a taping of an NBC game show hosted by Tom Kennedy. On the air it looked like Kennedy was wearing a bright red blazer. In the studio the blazer was a rather ugly rust color. Color video technology has advanced since then, but each film or program is made with the technology of its time. Disney has widely touted that their latest restorations of "Snow White" and "Pinnochio" for the first time reflect to colors in the surviving original art without realizing that 3-strip Technicolor saw colors differently than modern Eastman Color or the naked eye, and that filmamkers would have compensated and made numerous tests to achieve the on-screen colors they sought, and why the latest video iterations of some of Disney's animated classics hewing (or should I say hueing?) to the colors in the original art look more like Hanna-Barbera cartoons from the 1960s than they do the rich visual treats they were upon original release.

Another thing that turned me off to colorization was seeing the colorized version of "Action in the North Atlantic." There is a scene in that film in which Humphrey Bogart walks along a city street and passes a corner mail box. In the colorized version the mail box is blue, which they are now and were in the 1980s. However, in the 1940s and 1950s such corner mail boxes there painted olive-brown, and I realized immediately that any colorization effort was subject to the eye (and the whim) of whoever is supervising the colorization at a particular moment in time, and any color decision made may or may not reflect the real colors on the set or the historic colors of the period.

If five thousand years from now human evolution should turn skin tones green, would it be reasonable to assume that some future colorist and/or art director would give 7014 audiences a green Humphry Bogart, and change all the natural color films to also reflect that evolutionary change? Part of the thrill and the value of watching older films is being transported to another time and another sensibility.

I don't think the dubbing/looping argument is vaild, either. There are cultural aspects to whether a film is dubbed or sub-titled, as well as commercial ones, but in general mostfilm lovers who enjoy foreign films in the U.S. tend to prefer subtitles, especially now when thay can actually be seen and read on TV without being cut off or too blurry to read. And historically the stuff that got dubbed were things like "Hercules Unchanied" or "The Sword and the Dragon," films that wold play primarily to younger audiences.

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Harold Aherne » Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:18 am

There are some instances where colour photos or home movie footage exist of the sets used for B&W movies, and the differences involved in B&W vs. colour set design become apparent. One of the documentaries done on Fred Astaire shows a colour home movie taken by the Gershwin brothers on the "Slap That Bass" set from Shall We Dance. The colours on the set, as I recall, are rather underwhelming--mostly white with various metal accents, and a reddish-brown floor. Someone was also present with a colour camera on the Castle Walk/Too Much Mustard sequence from The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOEcP5AnvLQ

Had the film been designed for Technicolor, there would have been a lot less sepia-brown tones on the set and Ginger likely would've worn a dress with brighter hues. So even if extracting colour from B&W images is possible, we wouldn't magically find a Technicolor movie lurking beneath--we would see colour choices made with the B&W register in mind.

-HA

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by All Darc » Sun Apr 27, 2014 11:53 am

The sets needed to be less colorfull.

B&W photography also involves many use of color filters to alter the brightness values and contrast. If you want to add some red filters to make faces brighter but do not change much the set colors, the set needs to be less colorfull or evan in gray.

To allow colorization process give saturated values in cases of some B&W movies, you need the right tone. A saturated red can't be a bright gray tone A saturated yellow cant' be a too dark gray tone. In some films the american flag have the wrong tone, so the red can turn pinksh. The same to some red uniform in historical films that after colorized trun too bright. The films chos the gray tones that would look better in B&W, and not the gray tones correspondente of the true color.
Some B&W films have the sky almost White. A colorful films needs a blue sky... not a pale blue near white sky.
To correct this colorization need to be extremelly well done in rotoscoping since there is need to change the brightness value of some things. And perfect rotoscoping it's expansive, especially when there is transparente things, difuse thing etc...

In theory it's possible, or at least adapt the softwares and refine to make possible, but the price would be too high. And don't forget other things I said, like 3D depth analize, more separation for skin (face, neck, cheek, ears) and other complex things.
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Danny Burk » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:21 pm

It wouldn't be possible to accurately render colors based on their shade of grey. Shades of black/grey/white in b&w photography are dependent on subjects' tonality and not on their actual colors. For example, a midtone grey will be produced by ANY color that has midtone (50%) reflectivity, be it red, green, blue, etc. If you have all of those colors in one scene, all of which are exactly mid-toned, they'll look exactly the same as one another on b&w film, provided no filters are used to create tonal separation. (This doesn't apply to older film types such as ortho.)

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Spiny Norman » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:34 pm

Bob Birchard wrote:I first bagan to think about colorizing films when I was a teenager back in the 1960s. My reasoning was that since the beginning of widespread use of panchromatic B & W film in the late 1920s it might be possible to reconstruct color based on the grey scale rendition of those colors. It other words, if you could determine (or assign) a single color value to a specific shade of grey, it might be posible in the future to automatically (likely with some tweaking) reconstruct the natural colors of B & W films. And later, I had some interest (as a consumer) in the development of colorization, and bought into the notion that since the nearly universal transition to color TV, there were many who would not watch B & W movies on general principal.

(...)

I don't think the dubbing/looping argument is vaild, either. There are cultural aspects to whether a film is dubbed or sub-titled, as well as commercial ones, but in general mostfilm lovers who enjoy foreign films in the U.S. tend to prefer subtitles, especially now when thay can actually be seen and read on TV without being cut off or too blurry to read. And historically the stuff that got dubbed were things like "Hercules Unchanied" or "The Sword and the Dragon," films that wold play primarily to younger audiences.
Bob, I never said the result would be equal to if a movie had been designed for, and shot, in colour. A colourisation could never be authentic of course, although it can be well researched. If it's done badly one way or another, then that's different matter of course, but not one of principle. I'm talking about cases where it's done convincingly. I assume the points made above are generally taken into account when colour is added artificially.

Re the dubbing, you assume I was talking about the USA or the English speaking world. I wasn't: I meant the movie goers in France, Italy, Germany, Switserland, Austria, Spain, Czechia, Russia, and a number of Asian countries. They don't even get a choice. Now I know that that happens far away and doesn't affect you - but neither does an optional colour version.

And that is why I feel that today, colourisation - while clearly not authentic - does not deserve the total damnation it often gets, as if it comes straight from satan.
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Donald Binks » Sun Apr 27, 2014 4:33 pm

Someone was also present with a colour camera on the Castle Walk/Too Much Mustard sequence from The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOEcP5AnvLQ

Had the film been designed for Technicolor, there would have been a lot less sepia-brown tones on the set and Ginger likely would've worn a dress with brighter hues. So even if extracting colour from B&W images is possible, we wouldn't magically find a Technicolor movie lurking beneath--we would see colour choices made with the B&W register in mind.


That was very interesting! Thank you. Even if the colour had been designed for monochrome it still looked interesting and appertising. In fact its somewhat muted tones in contrast to the vibrant Technicolor of yore, seemed more reminiscent of the drabness of some modern day colour films.
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by All Darc » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:22 am

That's why I said that colorization would need to alter the luminance values (rotoscope and turn darker or brighter some objects) in order to make a scene full of a lot of saturated things, like in techniclor sets.
But... people would say that it's a alteration of original B&W photography, even if you make it to turn the american flag looking red and not pinkish (since sometimes the flag used on set had too bright stirps).

I saw colorizations that even a overal frame (scene) adjustment to look less exposed/bright was avoid, and the color didn't get well, cause they said the original B&W had that scene original very bright.
Danny Burk wrote:It wouldn't be possible to accurately render colors based on their shade of grey. Shades of black/grey/white in b&w photography are dependent on subjects' tonality and not on their actual colors. For example, a midtone grey will be produced by ANY color that has midtone (50%) reflectivity, be it red, green, blue, etc. If you have all of those colors in one scene, all of which are exactly mid-toned, they'll look exactly the same as one another on b&w film, provided no filters are used to create tonal separation. (This doesn't apply to older film types such as ortho.)
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by earlytalkiebuffRob » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:03 pm

Recalling the furore over colourisation in the 1980s and 1990s one thing that struck me (and others a-plenty) was that many of the films being messed about with were ones which relied on black-and-white for their effect and were designed for black-and-white. Films such as THREE COMRADES, THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS, YANKEE DOODLE DANDY simply do not need this maltreatment and as for making it 'accessible' to a wider audience this is just rather foolish as anyone who couldn't appreciate or enjoy such films might as well watch something else. It also seemed absurd that time and trouble was taken over this rather than making genuine colour films available in good copies, as there were still quite a few available. One might mention Curtiz's THIS IS THE ARMY (1943) which [I hope I'm wrong] seems only available [over here in England, anyway] in a really horrid print. The same goes for THE DANCING PIRATE (1936) which was also put out in a pretty grotty colour copy, tho' b/w prints seemed nice and sharp.

It recalls the absurdity of tv stations making b/w copies of early Technicolor movies at a time when color tv in America was a possibility. And I remember a friend giving me a disc of Fairbanks's THE BLACK PIRATE only to find it too in black-and-white, an extra absurdity considering its historical status.

I must admit to having seen very few colourised movies, and to be fair, ones like the Lone Star John Waynes did not really seem to suffer, possibly as they did not have a lot to lose. One I watched by mistake, not knowing it was colourised until it started was SCROOGE, with Alistair Sim. Whilst well done after a fashion, the colour added nothing to the atmosphere - in fact it just prettified it - and also, how could they know the original colours and tones? Another I saw was NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1969) which looked awful. Admittedly the last time I saw this, in a crisp b/w copy I was a lot less struck with it when I watched it back in the late 1970s.

As this process (less harmful, perhaps with some of the quickly-made films) would harm the careful work of artists / craftsmen of the calibre of Arthur Edeson, James Wong Howe, Joseph Ruttenberg, etc., it has as little to recommend it as the 'condensed books' aimed at folk who don't have the time for or inclination to read the complete works.

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:27 pm

Then there is the area of fairly obvious mistakes in colorization. Frank Sinatra's eyes were famously colored brown in the movie Suddenly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suddenly_(1954_film" target="_blank" target="_blank)

As a former stamp collector, I remember one movie had a stamp which had the wrong color. (I can't remember the movie.)

I also remember the claim that the colorizers would carefully take the best copies available, clean them up, etc., etc. I then watched a showing of Stagecoach which had been colorized. To me, underneath the colors, it looked similar to the old beat-up copies that were prevalent on TV at the time. It wasn't impressive at all.

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by boblipton » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:36 pm

Rick Lanham wrote:I also remember the claim that the colorizers would carefully take the best copies available, clean them up, etc., etc. I then watched a showing of Stagecoach which had been colorized. To me, underneath the colors, it looked similar to the old beat-up copies that were prevalent on TV at the time. It wasn't impressive at all.
I recall hearing or reading that all current copies of Stagecoach derive from John Wayne's personal copy until the 1996 restoration. According to occasionally reliable Wikpedia:
The original negatives of Stagecoach were either lost or destroyed. John Wayne had one positive print that had never been through a projector gate. In 1970, he permitted it to be used to produce a new negative, and that is the film seen today at film festivals
As a result, if you saw it between 1971 and 1996, it was that, the best copy available.

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:51 pm

boblipton wrote:
Rick Lanham wrote:I also remember the claim that the colorizers would carefully take the best copies available, clean them up, etc., etc. I then watched a showing of Stagecoach which had been colorized. To me, underneath the colors, it looked similar to the old beat-up copies that were prevalent on TV at the time. It wasn't impressive at all.
I recall hearing or reading that all current copies of Stagecoach derive from John Wayne's personal copy until the 1996 restoration. According to occasionally reliable Wikpedia:
The original negatives of Stagecoach were either lost or destroyed. John Wayne had one positive print that had never been through a projector gate. In 1970, he permitted it to be used to produce a new negative, and that is the film seen today at film festivals
As a result, if you saw it between 1971 and 1996, it was that, the best copy available.

Bob
All I can say is that what I saw on TV in San Diego in the '70s and '80s looked beat up.

Rick

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by All Darc » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:01 pm

Sudddenly was colorized again about 3 years ago, this time with blue eyes:


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Rick Lanham wrote:Then there is the area of fairly obvious mistakes in colorization. Frank Sinatra's eyes were famously colored brown in the movie Suddenly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suddenly_(1954_film" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank
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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:45 pm

boblipton wrote:
Rick Lanham wrote:I also remember the claim that the colorizers would carefully take the best copies available, clean them up, etc., etc. I then watched a showing of Stagecoach which had been colorized. To me, underneath the colors, it looked similar to the old beat-up copies that were prevalent on TV at the time. It wasn't impressive at all.
I recall hearing or reading that all current copies of Stagecoach derive from John Wayne's personal copy until the 1996 restoration. According to occasionally reliable Wikpedia:
The original negatives of Stagecoach were either lost or destroyed. John Wayne had one positive print that had never been through a projector gate. In 1970, he permitted it to be used to produce a new negative, and that is the film seen today at film festivals
As a result, if you saw it between 1971 and 1996, it was that, the best copy available.

Bob
I apologize, now that I think of it some more, and have looked at this list of colorized movies on Wikipedia, it may have been Angel and the Badman. Anyway, it was a John Wayne film. Apologies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bl ... _colorized" target="_blank" target="_blank

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Re: CLEOPATRA (1934) Version

Unread post by All Darc » Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:07 am

Stagecoach was digitally restored by Criterion Collection in 2K, but the best film element they found was a internegative of good quality (probably shot form Wayne's print).
I supose the original Wayne's print was or not available to Criterion or already lost by this time.


"The following text appears in the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:

"The original negative for Stagecoach has been considered lost for decades. For this edition, we evaluated several of the best surviving prints, both restored and original, before we found a 1942 nitrate duplicate negative that showed exceptional detail, gray scale, and clarity. We chose it as the primary source for this new high-definition digital transfer, created on a Spirit 2K Datacine, because we believed it was the best surviving film material of Stagecoach. For safety, a new 35mm fine-grain positive was made from from the negative as a preservation. "

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Stagecoach-Blu-ray/9842/" target="_blank
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