Show contents, with start times:
- Top 6: Sympathetic Villains (1:26)
- Trivia Question: Karloff and Nicholson (14:53)
- Industry Trend: Color, Part 1 (15:40)
- Good Bad Movie: Sinbad of the Seven Seas (30:54)
- Film Style Spotlight: Italian Neo-Realism (44:34)
- Closing: Trivia Answer, Letters, Preview of Next Week (54:33)
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Who is Keyser Soze? Probably not Stephen.
Top 6: Sympathetic Villains
Trivia Question: Karloff and Nicholson
Industry Trend: Color
Wikipedia’s page about Technicolor is a nice starting point for further reference about color in the movies.
- Some of the very earliest films had hand-painted color. The brilliant French innovator Georges MÃ©liÃ¨s used this technique a lot. In Paris To Monte Carlo (1905), for instance, a car is painted red the whole way through.
- The tinting of silent films was a common practice up through the 1930s. Stephen mentioned Charlie Chaplin’s great comedy The Gold Rush (1925) as one example, but there are many others.
- Lots of films during the 1920s featured some scenes in the two-strip Technicolor process, including the first filmed version of The Ten Commandments (1923).
- The Toll of the Sea (1922) was the first all-Technicolor feature. Probably the most famous of the early Technicolor features was The Black Pirate (1926).
- Three-strip Technicolor made its debut in Disney’s Flowers and Trees (1932). In 1937 Disney would cement three-strip Technicolor as a viable process for feature films with the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- The rest of the ’30s and ’40s were characterized by sporadic production of Technicolor features. It was a process reserved for big event movies such as The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Gone With the Wind (1939), or The Wizard of Oz (1939).
- With the rise of television and the advent of the cheaper Eastmancolor process (yes, it’s often referred to like that, with no space), color features increasingly became the norm rather than the exception. The Apartment in 1960 was the last black-and-white film to win Best Picture until Schindler’s List in 1993.
- During the 1980s, films like Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980) point the way toward a rebirth of black-and-white as an artistic statement. Steven Spielberg helped bring this idea to a wide audience in 1993 with Schindler’s List. We didn’t mention it, but also noteworthy is Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979), also a great film by a major director and shot in black and white for artistic reasons. It precedes Raging Bull by a year, though it probably only had a tenth of its budget.
- The independent movement also begins around this time, with emphasis on black-and-white movies because of their low cost compared to color film. Movies like She’s Gotta Have It (1986) and Clerks (1994) launch the careers of Spike Lee and Kevin Smith, respectively.
- Most recently, a lot of directors have used digital technology to do interesting things with color. Pleasantville (1998) had the record for digital effects shots when it was released because director Gary Ross digitally put color into B&W scenes. Other films, such as O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000) and Amelie (2001) used digital color processing to enhance colors. In The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), the black-and-white cinematography was achieved by digitally processing color film.
As an interesting footnote, Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator simulates the progress of color technology as it plays. Early on, there is a strange scene in which peas on a plate look blue. This is a simulation of how colors get distorted in two-strip Technicolor. Later on, the movie looks more correct and more lush, as in three-strip Technicolor.
Good Bad Movie: Sinbad of the Seven Seas
Astonishingly, almost nothing we say about Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989) is exaggerated. This film is not related to The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, or Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, cult classics with stop-motion effects by legend Ray Harryhausen.
For more info about Sinbad of the Seven Seas, you can read Sam’s review, or see what our friend Dave Parker has to say over at It’s a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie. Also check that site’s “Reader Reviews” section for still more.
Film Style Spotlight: Italian Neo-Realism
We promise neo-realist films are not half as pretentious as the name implies.
- The Italian Neo-Realist movement began sometime around the close of World War II. Exactly when it began is a point of minor contention among scholars. Some credit Luchino Visconti’s Ossessione (1943), the first film adaptation of James M. Cain’s novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, with starting the movement.
- More widely considered the first film is Rome, Open City (1945) by director Roberto Rossellini. It is Stephen’s favorite neo-realist film. Federico Fellini, who would go on to be the most important Italian director of the ’50s and ’60s, was a writer on Open City.
- 1948 saw the release of two of the greatest neo-realist films. Visconti’s La Terra Trema is one of Sam’s favorites, a simple story about a family of fishermen trying to overcome inescapable poverty.
- Vittorio De Sica’s film The Bicycle Thief is probably the most famous film from this movement. It is also called “Bicycle Thieves” in the United Kingdom, something Sam apparently feels is important to note. (This is different from Alien and Aliens).
- Italian Neo-Realism ends with Umberto D in 1952, around the same time Fellini is coming into his own as a major director. His first films, including La Strada and Nights of Cabiria, have their roots in Neo-Realism. By the 1960s, however, Fellini is directing such extravagant classics as La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2.