Q. What determined which movies in the ’40s and ’50s were made in color or black and white other than budget factors?
The Film Encyclopedia notes that color became increasingly common after the introduction of the Technicolor process in the 1930s. In the ’40s, color boomed after a simplified process “made it possible to shoot Technicolor films with ordinary motion picture cameras.”
With color film stock costing more to buy, develop and print, you still found plenty of low-budget films in cheaper black and white. But, as the movies battled television for audience in the ’50s, color was one more weapon, since both color TV sets and programming in color were relatively rare.
Still, aesthetic considerations fueled some film choices. The Oxford Companion to Film says that color was so often used to excess in scenery and costumes that it “came to be regarded as inappropriate to serious or realistic subjects.” Only in the ’60s, after color had become common in TV, magazines and amateur photography, did it “become acceptable on the screen as naturalism.”
Some filmmakers still rely on black and white. There have been notable efforts by Steven Spielberg ( Schindler’s List) and Martin Scorsese ( Raging Bull), and the most recent winner of the best-picture Oscar was the black-and-white (and mostly silent) The Artist. Q. Is there any chance of Harry’s Law starring Kathy Bates, ever returning to the air? I miss it.
This is a question still getting asked months after the series ended its run, so a recap is in order. NBC canceled the drama in May. It had relatively large audience, especially for NBC, but many of those viewers were well over 50, and so not as desirable to advertisers as younger adults.
Bates, by the way, is recuperating from a double mastectomy after a breast-cancer diagnosis over the summer. “My doctors have assured me I’m going to be around for a long time,” she told People.com in September. And she tweeted: “I don’t miss my breasts as much as I miss Harry’s Law.”
Q. Many years ago, I saw a movie with Richard Crenna and I think Zero Mostel called John Goldfarb, Please Come Home. It was very funny but not politically correct. Why is it never shown and can it be purchased?
I do not know of an authorized video release of John Goldfarb, Please Come Home, but I can see why it is not shown. The 1965 comedy starred Crenna, Shirley MacLaine and Peter Ustinov (not Zero Mostel). It was written by William Peter Blatty of later famous for The Exorcist.
Crenna played Goldfarb, a former football star who becomes coach of the football team of a fictional Middle Eastern country where Ustinov is king. MacLaine is a journalist investigating the king by sneaking into his harem.
The team plays Notre Dame, and the real-life Notre Dame was reportedly so unhappy with the movie that it sued to delay its release. When finally released, the movie was not a hit, and clips from it on YouTube indicate both ethnic insensitivity and a lack of humor.