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 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 10:30 AM   
 By:   mastadge   (Member)

It seems to me that most people have a schizoid attitude towards black and white in the movies. Most people would rather watch a colorized version of an old black and white movie. But these same people have no issue with watching a modern movie purposefully filmed in black and white

Well, there are reasons for that beyond the color issues. For instance, I saved a pair of texts from my little brother a few years back that read: "These old black and white movies have the most annoying and loud music and sound effects. How do people watch them and not get a headache?" and "The movies have like no ambient noise so there's no good volume balance. mastering sound is crucial to a good movie and all these old films have terrible sound work." So his problem was not that the movies are in black and white, but that both the aesthetic and technology behind the sound design didn't work for him.

And there are plenty of other differences. Acting has changed, dialogue has changed, whole new cinematic dialects have come and gone. Regardless of any objective measure of the quality of good old films, a participant needs a context to appreciate something and that context, for many younger folk, probably doesn't extend much past the 70s now, with a few exceptions from earlier on. Kind of like how someone who's never read anything besides American bestsellers published since the 80s would probably bounce of Tolstoy or Hugo or Dickens on a first try, no matter how much it had been impressed upon that person how good they were.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 10:30 AM   
 By:   Michael24   (Member)

I turn 35 in December. I've never had an aversion to B&W movies. As a kid in the '80s, I grew up on reruns of things like I Love Lucy, The Adventures of Superman and The Three Stooges. I was always watching old westerns and war movies with my dad, and other films such as The Thing From Another World and Them! When I was a teenager in high school, I "discovered" The Dick van Dyke Show, and it became a nightly staple for me during the week. Around the same time, I also saw Psycho and fell in love with it.

One of the things I like about B&W movies is that they transport me back to a simpler time. The whole "when women wore dresses and men wore hats" kind of thing. I know whenever I watch a Stooges short, for example, I always love seeing the exterior shots of '30s and '40s era Los Angeles.

There are just as many bad B&W movies as there are color. To be fair, I only have probably a handful of B&W films in my 300+ DVD collection. But as long as it's well-made and entertaining, that's all I care about.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 10:40 AM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

For DIVERSITY DAN it does not mean a thing to me one way or another. In my life and to this very day I could watch both in one sitting. Not to get off the topic but I was going to at one time call myself DIVERSITY DAN instead of DAN THE MAN, but I like the rhyme.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 11:13 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

I all depends on the film itself.
Colour makes it easier to recognize things and to make an inventory of what's going on.
B&W can be crucial to the atmosphere of a film. The examples are plenty.
It can be a gimmick that kills a film immediately too. Of that there are also examples.

To not watch a film because it's B&W is utter stupidity and laziness.

Then there is the colouring in stuff. That is for children. I have the "Sledge Hammer" season 2 box and in that Alan Spencer vents his disgust of colouring in. Rightly so I hastily add. He even has the ending of an episode parodying that stuff. He was right on many things and this is one of them.
I love the Guy Williams "Zorro" tv series (the ONLY Zorro in my opinion, everything else is second class at best to me and as for the Bandeiras/ Hopkins stuff: the less said about that the better) I have the DVD box but it irritates me that it has been coloured in. Especially as it is done with 90's technology and thus it is not very good. The worst thing is that when you turn the colour down to get a black and white again, the picture is fuzzy as a result of the digital manhandling.
Discrimination is not a good thing but in B&W productions I want black and white as seperated as Cape Town in the 70's.

Kind regards.

D.S.



Funny but this brings to mind a bigger discrimination. MY favorite ZORRO was Douglas Fairbanks. He had tons of charisma, a sly wink-of-the-eye performance style and did his own stunts like Jackie Chan. But if you guys have any problems getting the uninitiated to see B&W films try silent ones. I don't know if it is the reading of intertitles or the sometimes heavy melodrama, but many a "golden age of cinema" fan I know have expressed the same or heavier prejudice against silent films that the youth reflect for the B&W ones. To be fair I shared the same prejudice until I saw Emil Jannings Oscar winning performance in THE LAST COMMAND. I sat there and was flabbergasted. "This would win an Oscar today!" I said. After that I have continued to have a number of spectacular silent movie experiences, many with full orchestra (my two favorites were Delerue conducting CASANOVA and Carmine Coppola on NAPOLEON). Through them I learned how the power these films had when they first came out. The visual sophistication they attained just before their downfall was amazing! Just saw the first BEN-HUR again last Wednesday and it continues to impress me more then the remake in many ways. Thank god for THE ARTIST and some spectacular screenings that continue to this day (LACMA is doing 9 Hitchcock silents as we speak).

Every time I see an impressive silent film I think about how many of the over 80% of those now lost might have been comparable.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 11:52 AM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Indeed and if it was not for TV coming into popularity in the early 50's the same probably would have happened to 80% of all b/w old movies.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 12:33 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

We've been talking about B&W and color on this thread for some years now.

I have been thinking about an issue which has been coming up more often now and I wonder if any of you have experiences and opinions and can answer my question.

With modern video transfer technology, and the enhanced digital and chemical restoration abilities of the studios, it has often been possible to see films quite close to the "first generation" way in which they were originally photographed and presented.

When I was much younger, in the late 1940s-early 1950s, double-bills of features were a common occurrence, and sometimes those double-bills contained two color features. Occasionally one of the films was in 3-color IB Technicolor and the other was in one of the much-older developed 2-color processes---Magnacolor, Trucolor, CineColor---printed on duplitized film stock with an emulsion on BOTH sides of the film.

The Technicolor film always had the complete full-color range and was usually beautiful to look at, but the 2-color film was limited to certain colors in the spectrum, and the printing stock was poor enough, that the film usually looked---failing a better term---"icky". As a discerning audience you usually sucked up the horrible, incomplete color palette and bore with it until the screening was over and you could get back to the Technicolor.

Today, with modern transfer technology, many of those 2-color films look quite acceptable, and sometimes even excellent, though in their still limited way.

Many of today's filmmakers are descending into the past, and although they now have really excellent full-color capabilities with their stocks, they are often choosing to present their films via limited color palettes---either by way of really poor photography, or by graphic design.

My question is this:

When you see an early color film on television or video---say from 1945 to 1960---and you don't know the color process in which the film was photographed---are you able to IMMEDIATELY ascertain, positively and certainly, that you ARE or ARE NOT seeing the full 3-color range of information???

I have my suspicions that because of the way modern films are photographed, most viewers don't have a clue about the older films' color values.

I also have a suspicion that a colorized B&W film---if done patiently and expensively (.....we're talking about a superb, creative job here)---can rarely be discerned by an unknowing and youthful eye.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 12:52 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

Incidentally.....this thread from the past has been a fascinating read.

I read it from the top, all over again, and didn't even remember much
of what I---or anyone else---had previously posted, so it was new to me!

I learned a lot, particularly when, at 73, you've forgotten what you
remembered before!!! smile

Sadly, we don't have such enjoyable threads like these much any more.

Special thanks to all those who posted here.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 1:22 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

TO MANDERLEY- My friend, there is always something interesting to talk about , talk about the history of theatre on THEATRE TALK?

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 30, 2013 - 11:55 PM   
 By:   tarasis   (Member)

I'm recently 37, but I still love B&W movies though I very rarely get to see any as we don't have a TV input (and if we did it would be in German). I grew up watching the older movies that the UK channels (Channel 4 & BBC2) used to show in the day time and I feel that it helped me appreciate films more. Two of my top 5 fav movies are Duck Soup and Arsenic & Old Lace.

I'd kill for a Internet site where I could subscribe and be able to watch again movies like Topper, The Ghost & Mrs Muir, Hobson's Choice, Kind Hearts & Coronets, The Man in the White Suit, Whisky Galore, the many British and American war movies, PI movies, the movies of the bloke whose name currently escapes me but plays the banjo, Marx Brothers movies. *sigh* the list goes on and on.

It saddens me a bit that, likely, my kids won't grow up to see many of the classics, to appreciate films that relied more on story & acting over spectacle or gore. Remakes generally fail (The Ladykillers, I enjoyed Hanks but wasn't a patch on the original) and colorization is unneeded, the movies should be left as they where made.

I should note that my wife doesn't like B&W movies, or older stuff in general. I suggested watching ST:TOS recently and her response was "that's too old".

 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 12:05 PM   
 By:   Mr Greg   (Member)

Fascinating thread...

I'm 38...in my younger years I owned my little B&W set and hid out in my room at silly hours watching movies, movies and more movies....did this shape the way I don't give a toss about whether a film is B&W or colour today? Possibly...just as happy watching a 30's B&W as I am a 2013 colour movie...I just hate it when ANY movie is presented badly on an archival edition such as DVD etc.

I have a particular love of the 50's/60's sci-fi B&W potboilers, btw...

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 1:55 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

I do draw the line at silents, however. I have difficulty adjusting to the different look and style of pre-sound films and generally I've found it's not worth the effort. I'm sure I'm missing some fascinating films, but that's okay. There are more than enough sound movies to watch that don't have the technological creakiness and distracting performance techniques of silent cinema.

That's interesting, because I am far more fascinated with silent films in all forms and shapes (from the early pioneer stuff to the traditional feature films to the 'art' directions) than I am the b/w films of Hollywood's Golden Age. I love the experimentation with the medium in this period and the conscious use of b/w for effect. That's not to say that there aren't many Golden Age films I like too, but I don't have that deep fascination for it -- neither academically nor emotionally.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 2:05 PM   
 By:   Michael24   (Member)

I do draw the line at silents, however. I have difficulty adjusting to the different look and style of pre-sound films and generally I've found it's not worth the effort. I'm sure I'm missing some fascinating films, but that's okay. There are more than enough sound movies to watch that don't have the technological creakiness and distracting performance techniques of silent cinema.

I'm the same way. Whenever I watched a silent movie in one of my film classes, most of the time I found it a challenge. Sitting through the 3+ hour epic The Birth of a Nation or the 2+ hour Greed was quite a chore.

On the other hand, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari wasn't too bad. I recall it was pretty short, and at least visually it was great to look at. But otherwise, I just never really developed a taste of silent films. (That said, I do still want to see the original Nosferatu some time.)

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 2:28 PM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

I've been watching a lot of b/w movies lately. I've started watching double bills at home, always starting with a b/w film. Last night was a strange double bill, Kind Hearts & Coronets & after that witty & mannered film I fancied something stupid & violent, so I went with Sly's The Expendables 2 (maybe a bit too stupid, but I enjoyed it). I've been going through the Hope/Crosby "Road" movies, & Hope's The Ghost Breakers. Dunkirk (that was a bit long, so I didn't bother with a second film). And there's the Preston Sturges box to see. Favorite b/w's are old war movies, I saw Battan the other night, Robert Taylor is just so good in it (reading a John Ford biog. I see he was first choice for They Were Expendable, but he couldn't do it, so the part went to John Wayne). I love British 50's b/w war movies & British 50's b/w comedies. And then there's all those 40's serials. I have DVD's of quite a few of them: King Of The Rocketmen, Phantom Empire, Zorro's Fighting Legion, & many more. My 83 year old mother doesn't like b/w movies, in fact the whole family takes the micky, "you were watching what! That's yonks old...& it's b/w!".

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 2:34 PM   
 By:   Michael24   (Member)

And then there's all those 40's serials. I have DVD's of quite a few of them: King Of The Rocketmen, Phantom Empire, Zorro's Fighting Legion, & many more.

Now those are something I've always wanted to explore. I've never seen King of the Rocketmen, but I actually have a mini-poster on my wall because I love the look of it. But I would love to check out a lot of those great serials of the '40s. (Sometimes they just seem daunting because of the total length. Almost like watching a whole season of a TV series.)

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 1, 2013 - 2:49 PM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

And then there's all those 40's serials. I have DVD's of quite a few of them: King Of The Rocketmen, Phantom Empire, Zorro's Fighting Legion, & many more.

Now those are something I've always wanted to explore. I've never seen King of the Rocketmen, but I actually have a mini-poster on my wall because I love the look of it. But I would love to check out a lot of those great serials of the '40s. (Sometimes they just seem daunting because of the total length. Almost like watching a whole season of a TV series.)


Yeah, I saw them all in the late 50's & early 60's at what we used to call Saturday Morning Pictures: cartoons, a short, serial & main film. I used to live for those serials, it's what started me loving films. Having them on DVD I have found that you can't see all the episodes back to back, it doesn't work, they weren't made to be seen like that. I'd say no more than two episodes at a time. Oh, & two big favorites I left out: The Adventures Of Captain Marvel & of course, Flash Gordon. I suppose they have high camp value now, but with me it's a magical part of my childhood. Back in the late 60's I did go to a Flash Gordon all nighter at the NFT in London's South Bank, but I think I fell asleep around 2.30am!

 
 Posted:   Jul 2, 2013 - 4:28 AM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

My kids grew up watching B&W movies. Fortunately many of my prints are struck directly from 35mm negatives and look incredibly gorgeous on the big screen. Over the years, my son and daughter would bring friends over to see movies and many of them were perplexed by the absence of "color". Manderley's musings on the camera negative impact on printing is quite correct. I remember seeing a nitrate print of SILVER RIVER at MOMA. It had lines and splices and I could hear people squirming in their seats. But I was amazed at the profound beauty and texture of the print, obviously struck the year of release (1948). Just a penny dreadful western, but indicative of what films used to look like back in the day.

For years I tried sitting through Gaumont's THE GHOUL but just couldn't make it due to the awful dupes that were extant. Then the camera neg was unearthed and, lo and behold, what an extraordinary viewing experience - augmented by an unfiltered variable density soundtrack that had incredible dimension and dynamics even for 1933.

 
 Posted:   Jul 2, 2013 - 5:54 AM   
 By:   Warlok   (Member)

I find that I do not agree that black & white film has a quality that color cannot achieve.

That said, no approach is inherently superior to any other... you go with what suits the subject. Thats as true of b&w as it is of hand-cam work, CGI, greenscreen, the absence of score, close-ups, or anything else.

If an artist of sufficient ability sets forth to craft a piece of entertainment and they employ X tools, then the potential for good art is there: whatever tools they are, they can be bent together to form something that works.

I prefer color but I have nothing more than that preference to b&w.

 
 Posted:   Jul 8, 2013 - 4:27 AM   
 By:   First Breath   (Member)

Do You Refuse to Watch Black & White Movies?

Yes. Shame on me. ;-)

 
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