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 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 5:29 PM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

A query for our movie historians here:

Black and white was the norm for films during a great deal of the 20th century. By the mid-late 1930s color film was now technically advanced enough to be used quite a lot, but it wasn't until the late 1960s that color finally took over completely (or at least 99% completely.) (Note that by 1967 the Oscars ceased having separate categories for black & white and color cinematography.)

Since then, whenever a movie is filmed (or processed) in black and white (e.g. The Last Picture Show, Lenny, Raging Bull, Schindler's List, The Artist, Nebraska, etc.) we know it's not for economy reasons (I'm not referring to low budgeted indy films here, but major productions), but because it's the artistic choice of the filmmakers.

So my question is - during that 30 year period of the late 1930s - late 1960s do we know of any specific Hollywood movies in which the producer and/or director deliberately chose to use b & w as an artistic choice rather than using it because of studio budgetary concerns and/or because it was the type of film that everyone expected to be in black and white? I.e. the filmmakers could have used color, but they preferred b & w?

Thank you! smile

 
 
 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 5:33 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Great thread, I thought I heard somewhere PSYCHO-HITCHCOCK- Anyone want to back me up with this?

 
 
 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 5:39 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

TO MARK R Y- You notice the real big turnaround year from B/W TO COLOR was the 1964-65 years. 1964 was the real last year where you still had a chunk of films from the majors and minors doing films in B/W. However if you look back at 65 and onward it really became rare.Just like the sexual mores and violence in films took a big turn in the 1967-68 years when as we know they quickly had to start a rating system due to this change.

 
 
 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 5:40 PM   
 By:   Lee S   (Member)

Some Like It Hot. Marilyn Monroe had the contractual right to insist on color, but Billy Wilder thought that Curtis and Lemmon as women would look awful in color, so he tried very hard to convince Monroe not to exercise her right to mandate color. She agreed and the movie was filmed in black and white.

 
 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 6:02 PM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

Of course, I should have remembered Psycho. I've known for years about its use of b&w to make the blood splatterings look less gruesome.

I did not know that about Some Like It Hot. Thanks. smile

 
 
 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 6:27 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

I think To Kill a Mockingbird fits. See number four in the below URL.


http://resources.mhs.vic.edu.au/mockingbird/filmstudy.htm

For the heck of it, I wrote this in google. "Why was TKM filmed in black and white?" I was amazed by how many various answers have been published. I have just posted one of them.

 
 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 6:46 PM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

Thanks for the link, Joan. After reading Mulligan's reasons for b&w, I now wonder just how much documentation we have on decisions to choose between b&w and color during this period. (As well as choosing which aspect ratios to utilize from 1953 onwards, but that's a whole other topic!)

 
 
 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 6:50 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Television drove the final nail into B&W's coffin. Once color TV became popular, the networks were afraid that any B&W fare would lose viewers. Since television revenue was important to the studios by this time, they became reluctant to produce anything but color movies.

 
 
 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 7:33 PM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

http://www.moviefanfare.com/guest-review-the-longest-day/

According to the above article, The Longest Day was the most expensive Black and White movie ever released until Schindler's List. (1962) Given its expense in its day, the director either wanted it in black and white or couldn't afford the added expense of Technicolor.

 
 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 9:12 PM   
 By:   Mr. Jack   (Member)

I remember reading that Cat On A Hot Tin Roof was filmed in color specifically because the filmmakers wanted the pretty peepers of Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman on full display, despite most "artistic" films of the period usually settling for B&W.

 
 
 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 9:53 PM   
 By:   Lee S   (Member)

Olivier's 1948 Hamlet is a funny counterexample. When asked why he had made it in black and white, Olivier answered for years that he saw it as reflective of Hamlet's gray world of choices to make. Much later, he admitted that he had had a dispute with the people at Technicolor and they were going to charge a fortune, so he just did it in black and white instead.

 
 
 Posted:   May 11, 2014 - 10:24 PM   
 By:   philiperic   (Member)

I have read that the 1937 production of THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER with Errol Flynn was planned to be shot in Technicolor (like the following year's classic ,ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD)but the cost was considered too much by WB and so it was switched to B+W.

Judging from some color photos I have seen of TPATP, it would have looked beautiful and would certainly be much better remembered today. It is easily the best film version of Twain's classic - a classic Korngold score + many fine supporting performances plus a perfect set of real life twins to play the leads.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2014 - 5:30 AM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

Probably the two most notable "should have been in color" pictures are Hal Roach's BABES IN TOYLAND and Warner Bros' YANKEE DOODLE DANDY.

TOYLAND was originally planned as a Technicolor feature by RKO in 1930 but their option lapsed and Roach picked it up. Stan Laurel was anxious to do it in color but Roach nixed it due to excessive cost. It would have been two-strip, of course, but would still have been interesting.

I don't know why DANDY wasn't done in color. My guess would be scheduling of available Technicolor cameras, which was a major stumbling block in the early 40's. I'm sure if Warners could have swapped CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS and YANKEE DOODLE DANDY vis a vis Technicolor they gladly would have done so!

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2014 - 6:41 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Another example is SHE (1935), which was planned for color before RKO cut the budget. The excellent video version was colorized in consultation with Ray Harryhausen and is perhaps one of the more successful examples of that process.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2014 - 7:00 AM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

I respectfully disagree. First - photography, lighting and makeup for color is completely different than for B&W. Most of SHE takes place indoors or on interior sets, which make for lesser colorization. And since it is a mostly unauthentic process with respect to costume and decor colors, I really can't endorse it. Especially when She's blue eyes pop up before her face comes into focus in Leo's delerium. Also, unlike Kino, Legend elected not to insert my restored footage back into the feature but left it as an "extra". Pretty dumb.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2014 - 9:02 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

Lots of films. I remember that in the sixties a film in b/w wasn't a big deal, you didn't say, oh no it's in b/w. In Harm's Way '64 was a huge film with big stars (Wayne & Douglas), & they had no problem in shooting that in b/w, & I'm sure John Ford chose b/w for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. They make a lot of films now that should be in b/w, but instead they shoot them in colour & then wind out about 75% of the colour, so it's not one thing or the other.

I remember in the seventies the silver price shot right up, & b/w stock became more expensive than colour because it contains more silver salt. And then one by one the film labs stopped processing b/w as there was so little of it (I'm talking about movie stock). My lab continued to process & print it, but we used to wait 'till we had enough to make it worth while, so maybe once a month.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2014 - 9:09 AM   
 By:   eriknelson   (Member)

Lots of films. I remember that in the sixties a film in b/w wasn't a big deal, you didn't say, oh no it's in b/w. In Harm's Way '64 was a huge film with big stars (Wayne & Douglas), & they had no problem in shooting that in b/w, & I'm sure John Ford chose b/w for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. They make a lot of films now that should be in b/w, but instead they shoot them in colour & then wind out about 75% of the colour, so it's not one thing or the other.

I recall reading that there was a financial problem with IHW that forced Preminger to choose B&W. In my opinion it made the film seem more authentic.

 
 Posted:   May 12, 2014 - 10:07 AM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

I've wondered if In Harm's Way was in b&w so WW2 stock footage could have been seamlessly added to some of the scenes.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2014 - 10:12 AM   
 By:   (Member)   (Member)



So my question is - during that 30 year period of the late 1930s - late 1960s do we know of any specific Hollywood movies in which the producer and/or director deliberately chose to use b & w as an artistic choice rather than using it because of studio budgetary concerns and/or because it was the type of film that everyone expected to be in black and white? I.e. the filmmakers could have used color, but they preferred b & w?

Thank you! smile




Seconds (1966) by John Frankenheimer.
In Cold Blood (1967) by Richard Brooks.

 
 
 Posted:   May 12, 2014 - 10:13 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

I've wondered if In Harm's Way was in b&w so WW2 stock footage could have been seamlessly added to some of the scenes.

I suppose so, but I can't remember any stock footage used (or in The Longest Day for that matter), but it's been a couple of years since I've seen it.

 
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