Friday, May 22, 2009

Giving Thanks

The Third ManImage via Wikipedia

I am thankful that I was born at such a time that black-and-white movies were not an affectation, but the best the filmmakers could do, at least the best they could do in the 30s and then the best they could do -- at least in the 40s and maybe in the first part of the 50s; I don't know enough to know that -- given the cost and difficulty of color.

I know my ignorance is showing here. I'm not really sure when color became a matter of choice -- one or the other; money's not object! -- but I do like to think that all those black-and-white movies I loved on TV were not some cranks effort to fight the last battle in a lost war, a war where the soldiers were all those ticket buyers who did want their color.

They say that kids now have no patience with the old black and white movies. They are just too odd for the kids, not the color of dreams (as they were for me) but the color of mold or ash or 'technical difficulties.' Well, I do love black and white. I'm thinking about it because over on Netflix instant, where I've paused it, "The Third Man" is racked up and ready to go. It's all shadows, mood, like the photos in newspapers used to be, the inside stuff of black and white photography.

Sure, it makes me feel old, but in just a little bit I'm not there any more, just the movie just the movie and the dream.

You know, I read the original "Third Man" in a Graham Greene omnibus I was assigned in grad school and the "hero" -- and never were quote marks used to greater or wiser effect -- gets the girl. But then again the original story was some kind of back story or treatment for the movie, as I recall. So when the hero got the girl in that version it was just Greene being soft, slumming.

Carol Reed had the best kind of "black and white" mind. All those lovely shadows, soft and hard at the same time.


Peter Moore said...

Three-Strip Technicolor was the dominant color film until the mid '50s. It was more complex and expensive that B&W. Eastman color came along and by '55 of so became the main color film used. It's cheaper and easier. The main drawback is that Eastman color fades. Which is why many films from the '60s and '70s look pink.
Also: Vincent D'Onofrio directed and wrote a short called "Five Minutes, Mr. Welles" about Welles on the set of "The Third Man." Very entertaining take on how elements were added to the movie

....J.Michael Robertson said...

I hoped I would attract a P. Moore explanation.