A Slightly Obsessed Movie Theme Special!
Red & Green (& Blue)
For my complementing series of write-ups as the holiday season commences here in November I’ll be looking at some of the very best movies in the classic Hollywood era that utilized to eye-popping effect the color motion picture process called Technicolor – which I hope will lead well into a series of Christmas movie write-ups in the month of December!
Between these Holiday write-ups and that consummation most devoutly to be wished lie four Technicolor movies—made between 1938 and 1945; the heyday of the film process’s heavily saturated, deep color tones—that will constitute what I’m callin’ Technicolor Tuesdays.
Introduced in the mid-30’s, and known in industry circles as “Process 4,” or “Three-Strip Color,” these were the first feature films to photo-realistically capture—from “red” and “yellow” to “blue” and “violet”—the full-color spectrum. Actually, the process had been around since the middle of the first World War, and other competing color film processes had been around before and after that (check out a 10 minute stretch of film that made the social media rounds about a year or so back, showing London of the 1920’s in beautiful “Biocolour”), but it wasn’t until the early 30’s that the folks atTechnicolor developed a commercially-viable film process able to photo-realistically capture the cooler end of the light spectrum (Blue to Violet) beyond Red & Green…
As Red & Green shadings continued to dominate Technicolor movies even after the addition of Blue, the color movies of the 30’s and 40’s tend to remind me of Christmas—which is why I’m writing about them as a way to anticipate the holiday season. (As good a justification as any, I suppose!)
Visually, and without going into the baffling technical aspects of the process (which involves metric ton camera equipment, complex light-streaming through precision-placed prisms, multiple strips of black & white film treated with color-sensitive chemical additives, and a frankly inexplicable post-film dye process…), Technicolor movies are like Renaissance Paintings come to life–the vibrant tones of a Michelangelo or da Vinci fresco projected on those silver screens of yesteryear, in glorious motion.
Alas, the painterly dyed-tones of Technicolor were supplanted in the early 50’s by less involved and more streamlined color processes such as Eastmancolor and Metrocolor, but Dorothy opening a door upon a magical other-reality or Scarlett O’Hara vowing she’d “never go hungry again” against a blazing red silhouette of war-torn hell or Gene Kelly Singin’ In The brackish-blue-black-background of gently-falling Rain made their indelible mark on film history; providing dream-like images of fantasy worlds just beyond the reach of the grey-tone, colorless, everyday-ness of boring ol’ life.
Yep, color sure is purdy.
I. THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD
(1938, Warner Bros., dir(s). Michael Curtiz & William Keighley)
“Why, you speak treason!”
Publicity Department at Warner Bros. Studio; freelance consultant, “Speed” Jinxton McNab…
As per J.L.’s request, I have reviewed Ms. Kalmus’s (Nathalie Kalmus; Technicolor supervisor 1934-1949) objections to Warner Bros.’ historical/adventure production, The Adventures of Robin Hood; particularly re. “garish” and “inappropriate” use of Technicolor.
In marketing Robin Hood, I would in fact advise underlining these very points. As such, I have taken the liberty of drafting a few slogans for use in posters, lobby cards, trailers, etc. that I believe will serve to boost theatre circulation, audience awareness, and ultimately revenue:
“A Towering Triumph of High Medieval Romance and Spectacle in Blazing Technicolor!”
“He stole from the rich and gave to the poor… The daring deeds of the beloved medieval outlaw, rendered for the very first time in glorious Technicolor!”
“The green of Sherwood Forest and the red of spilled Saxon blood—the legend of England’s best-loved bandit springs to vivid life in astonishing Technicolor!”
As a final thought, having viewed first rushes from outdoor scenery shot at Bidwell Park, I would suggest taking director Keighley and cameraman Tony Gaudio off the production and putting Michael Curtiz and Sol Polito on. The latters’ work with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland on last year’s The Charge of the Light Brigade, not to mention Curtiz’s sterling job with both on Captain Blood, would I feel lend itself to a greater extravagance and excitement to interior scenes, particularly swashbuckling scenes of derring-do.
Or something along these lines.
One can just imagine looming shadows of Flynn and Basil Rathbone sword-fighting across the castle wall, can’t one?
(If available, an Erich Korngold Wolfgang score certainly couldn’t hurt either.)
In any event, doing exactly the opposite of Ms. Kalmus’s timid palette for more, shall we say, ‘baroque’ usage of color—in costumes, scenery, lighting, make-up—will play directly into our advertising campaign for what promises to be the grandest screen spectacle Waner Bros. has yet attempted.
As a little kid, I was absolutely obsessed with Robin Hood and his legends. Little John! Friar Tuck! Will Scarlet! The odious Sheriff of Nottingham! And, depending on the source, Good King Harry (Henry II), “he of the warring sons” as one of my childhood Robin Hood books would have it; or, alternately, his successor the eternally crusading Richard the Lionheart (Richard I) and the treacherous Prince John. And even as much as I blecched! on romance in general, I really didn’t even mind Maid Marian all that much—especially the story where she disguises herself as a young page and almost ‘bests’ Robin in a swordfight.
The story and legends that have arisen around Robin Hood & His Merrie Men, as I later learned, are a hodgepodge of medieval balladry, garbled history, and early nineteenth century romanticizing (particularly in the novels and poetry of Sir Walter Scott). But still, even if there never was a Robin Hood, alternately a middle-class ‘yeoman’ in the early 12th century or a Saxon Lord in the 13th, who frequented Sherwood or Barnsdale Forests with a shifting cast of supporters and antagonists—seeming to change in character and intent as much as the historical situation in which a particular story was told (the “robbing from the rich”-angle wasn’t even a part of the legend until it had been in existence for two or three hundred years)—there’s just something intrinsically powerful about a mischief-maker and ne’er do well standing up to the forces of injustice and, for lack of a better term, evil that has persisted, now, for at least seven centuries through ballads, poems, paintings, books, movies, radio and TV shows.
So, I dunno, perhaps the idea of wearing green tights and living with a band of outlaws in the forest simply appeals to the little boy in us all…
Of all the different variations on the Robin Hood legend—I’m particularly partial to a book by J. Walker McSpadden that was (much later) illustrated by Greg Hildebrandt—my favorite screen version is undoubtedly 1938’s Warner Bros.’ Technicolor Production of The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring the immortal screen interpreter of swashbuckling romance Errol Flynn as the titular outlaw. (I must admit that I’m also fond of the 1973 Disney cartoon animal kingdom version, with Robin as a fox, though the less said about the Kevin Costner version, the better. The latter being a MAJOR disappointment of my childhood, though Alan Rickman as the High Sheriff is an absolute glory to behold.)
With its blaring Erich Wolfgang Korngold horns & strings score, its pageantry of colorful costumes, its overwhelming palace interiors, its stunning use of location photography (with a little patch of woods just outside Hollywood doubling, rather magnificently, for Sherwood Forest), and the stunt arrow-shooting, sword-dueling, castle-scaling spectacle of it all, this is High Medieval Fantasy at its High Medieval Fantasy-est; the very Hollywood movie for which Swashbuckling Grand Adventure most directly applies.
In short, this is the best Robin Hood you’re likely to see, besides being one of the best Hollywood movies ever made.
As this particular series of write-ups seems to demand it, I suppose I must reserve a little space at the end here to talk about Technicolor—what it was, and what it did for the particular movie in question.
In the 30’s, Warner Bros. was most well-known for its hard-edged style and subject matter—particularly its gangster movies and social melodramas. SPECTACLE! had been a significant part of the studio’s output during the silent era, though they were only returning to it more recently in 1936-38 with rousing adventure epics like Captain Blood, The Prince and the Pauper (both starring Flynn; 1936 and ’37, respectively), and Anthony Adverse (1936).
Interestingly, there had been social and political content in ALL these movies—particularly, Depression-era themes of the haves vs. the have-nots, the oppressed vs. tyranny—and, at base, the stories and legends surrounding a medieval outlaw resisting ill-treatment at the hands of “a pack of cutthroats and murderers” then in-power was a timely one.
SO! it was thought that Technicolor, with its deeply-saturated tones and prettifying color schemes, would lend itself most appropriately to remote historical and fantasy subjects, and Robin Hood was definitely both; however, the more subversive elements of rebellion and total war against tyranny and oppression shines through even the most “garish” and “clashing” use of (nearly) every shade in the color spectrum—which actually, and counter-intuitively, adds to the effect.
My personal favorite?: Basil Rathbone as the villainous Sir Guy of Gisbourne decrying Robin as a “scoundrel” and “rogue” in the film’s famous archery scene while wearing a bright pink, crimson-red trimmed gown…
Obviously, such a man, and dresser, must be stopped by whatever means necessary!
II. GONE WITH THE WIND
(1939, Selznick International Pictures, dir. Victor Fleming)
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Memo (responding) to producer David O. Selznick; freelance publicity consultant, Speed Jinxton McNab…
In response, Mr. Selznick, to your 30 page memorandum—and subsequent flurry of telegrams—praising and, as far as we could discern, objecting(?) to our movie poster design for the up-coming release of Gone with the Wind, may we be allowed to make one significant point:
Despite whatever concerns the Hays Office might have of stars Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in varying states of undress, with the latter charmingly carrying the former off to her much-desired Fate Worse Than, we fear that you have neglected to note that the Movie Puritans’ authority extends solely to *on-screen* depictions of lust and depravity.
Remember, sir, that this is realer-than-reel Technicolor, and that this is the representing image through which you will convey Miss Margaret Mitchell’s thousand pages of sexy Civil War shenanigans…
If anything, we would suggest lowering the neckline on Scarlett’s scarlet dress by a good half inch and tearing open Rhett’s puffy white shirt down the middle.
(More to the point, the curving contours of a woman’s breasts and the downy fluff of a man’s chest hair are the best advertising tools at your immediate disposal.)
You can burn down Atlanta, Mr. Selznick, but the only thing audiences will truly recall after a grinding four hours of slaves and plantations and battle hospitals are the deep-toned rouge on Miss Leigh’s cheeks and the bristling tuft on Mr. Gable’s upper lip.
Make them sensually feel the dramatic stakes of your historical drama, rendered in the deep-saturated tones of Technicolor, and the hearts and minds of your audience will soon follow.
My second write-up on Technicolor movies 1938-46 is, perhaps, unavoidable.
Bucking up to that inescapable reality, I put aside one precious day-off during the year’s busiest sales and retail season—on Thanksgiving Day, no less!—and made a heroic effort, and possibly a noble sacrifice, to spend a nerve-wracking, patience-shattering, bladder-bursting 3 hours and 41 minutes on an antebellum Georgian plantation and in war-torn Atlanta both preceding and following Our Nation’s bloodiest and most decisive conflict…
(And I watched it crouching over a computer monitor while sitting in a freezing loft, no less, eventually finishing the Outsized Classic Hollywood Epic a full 18 hours after I started it.)
So, the question for this particular write-up remains: Was it worth it?
Producer David O. Selznick’s magnum opus—cast, supervised, and realized while on an obsessive, 3 ½ year-long amphetamine jag; with absolutely no detail from Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel being spared for its maximum screen impact—is Classic Hollywood at its most Classic Hollywood-est.
Made and released during that most memorable year of screen entertainment, 1939, sexy star performers and a production scale bordering on the ludicrous—in which even the windswept font of the title takes a full eight seconds to majestically sweep across the screen—propels even the most jaded viewer through a solid four hours of high soap historical drama and the occasionally retrograde attitudes and doings of questionably stereotyped characters. (Hattie McDaniel as “Mammy,” for one, is marvelous; though the fact remains that she is essentially an omniscient black stereotype. And the less said about Butterfly McQueen as “Prissy,” the better.)
Re-evaluated in recent years as “bloated,” “tiring,” and “overdone”—and I personally wouldn’t deny any of those impressions—the fact remains that, from beginning to end, the massive spectacle of it all brilliantly succeeds to this day in maintaining and captivating an audience’s attention.
Even (under the most unfavorable of watching circumstances) mine.
Perhaps at its most compelling during the film’s first half (which is a half-hour shorter, by the way), Scarlett & Rhett’s stormy and tempestuous courtship played against the backdrop of war, deprivation, desperation, scheming, ruthlessness, luxury, and one helluva spectacular bedroom scene-set falling-out—not to mention the terrifyingly cutesy progeny of their ill-fated union in “Bonny Blue Butler” *shudder*—makes for undeniably involving viewing. For my money, Gone with the Wind definitively proves the maxim, which I’ll presume to coin right here and now, that over-produced gobbledygook splashed over a big screen is one of the true pleasures of the 20th Century.
And now a few final words on Technicolor.
From emerald green to scarlet red—and boy, we really can’t pass by without noting THAT—Vivien Leigh AS Scarlett has about as many dress colors as she has moods to suit her every ever-changing whim. In fact, mourning black aside, there really isn’t a scene in the movie that she isn’t central to or in which her make-up and wardrobe doesn’t thematically underscore exactly what’s on her scheming mind.
This view round, I couldn’t help noting what a truly unpleasant and unsympathetic character Scarlett is, despite her strength and courage, but that the film—moving from the flirting soft tones of yellow, white, and green at the Wilkes Barbecue to the violent red tones of fire, war and destruction to the ashen grey/bleached white tones of desperation and devastation to, finally, the heavily-saturated tones of luxurious scarlet and emerald—exists entirely for her. Melanie (Olivia deHavilland) is a ‘milksop’ and Ashley (Leslie Howard) is a crushing bore, but Scarlett is the one your eye can’t help turning to; drawing the audience’s attention—through set design, costume, lighting, and every other filmmaking tool—like a vacuum.
Rhett may have the final word on her, courtesy of a special dispensation from the Hays Office to memorably employ the word “damn,” but I don’t think anyone who’s ever watched this movie assumes that Scarlett *isn’t* going to win him back after the final credits roll, the Technicolor fades to expressive black, and Max Steiner’s magnificent score thunders once more through those magnificent movie palaces of yesteryear.
Because, after all, tomorrow IS another day.
III. THE WIZARD OF OZ
(1939, MGM, dir. Victor Fleming)
“There’s no place like home.”
Memo responding to MGM producer, Mervyn LeRoy; freelance publicity consultant, “Speed” Jinxton McNab…
Well, sir, following the departure of three directors (George Cukor, King Vidor, Richard Thorpe), four stars (Shirley Temple, Deanna Durbin, W.C. Fields, Buddy Ebsen), and the suicide of one of the little actors playing a “Munchkin” [Note: Apocryphal, but still, funny? tragic? appropriate?], why not just grab iron man Victor Fleming off of Gone with the Wind? I mean, it’s not like a guy with Cherokee blood in ‘im is gonna collapse from nervous exhaustion, is he? [Note: He did.]
From a publicity standpoint, first director George Cukor’s decision to frame the “Over the Rainbow”-fantasy notion of Dorothy as a dream (and glad you finally settled on Judy Garland, by the way) opens up the possibility of a powerful contrast between our world and the magical Land of Oz. (Good for posters and what-not.) Black & White as representing our world seems a foregone conclusion, but why not take a cue from a modern social photographer like Dortothea Lange and emphasize the barren dirt & grit of Dust Bowl-ravaged Kansas? Sepia-tone would seem to be just the ticket which, while still pretty to look at, nonetheless hints at some of the dreary realities that a poor farm girl like Dorothy would be eager to escape from.
Next, Oz itself. Having viewed preliminary rushes of the “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” and “Off to See the Wizard” scenes, might I suggest taking the Technicolor schematics even further? “Blue” should be VERY BLUE, indeed; while “red” & “green” should look like the Devil’s Own Hell for the former—consider replacing “silver shoes” with “ruby slippers”—and, for the latter city so named, like a mortally-wounded Leprechaun hemorrhaging bright green blood over a heaping pile o’ glinting emerald jewels.
(And as for the “yellow” of that Yellow Brick Road, sir, it should blaze like a thousand midday suns.) Exaggeration, Mr. LeRoy, is key to keeping an audience off-guard, especially when you want them to accept this Other World that you are presenting them.
As such, the technical color-tone rigors of, um, Technicolor will require your sets to be lit—nay, over-lit—with every million-watt, metric ton spotlight at your studio’s immediate disposal. Fortunately, the auspices of Hollywood’s most extravagant film studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, already gives your production crew ample light source to begin with. (Just charge it all to Louis B. Mayer.)
Yes, the Fires of Hell will be nothing to the temperatures generated for those heat-thirsty cameras of Technicolor—and your Wicked Witch, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion et al. will possibly melt under those heavy costumes and punishing pounds of make-up… but, y’know, it will look magnificent up there on the silver screen.
And as they say: dreams, sir, are worth suffering and, indeed, dying for.
Especially, I might add, those of the Technicolor variety.
My own pet theory, stated in these write-ups at least a half-dozen times by now, is that there are certain movies that so successfully draw-on, or perhaps reflect, the aspirations and imagination of an entire culture that any person exposed to them, especially at a young age, is indelibly marked by their story and images. Think of any Disney movie made before 1942 (Snow White through Bambi), musicals from the 40s and 50s (Meet Me in St. Louis through Singin’ in the Rain), and outsized fantasy epics of almost any era (King Kong to Star Wars to Lord of the Rings to, well, King Kong again).
If one accepts this notion, then the greatest movie to come out of the United States is undoubtedly 1939’s MGM’s production of L. Frank Baum’s fantasy classic, The Wizard of Oz. From Depression-era Kansas twisters to a house flying on the westerly wind to a gold-laid road leading five weary travelers to their heart’s (or lack thereof) desire to flying monkeys to humbug wizards to evil and beautiful witches to I-could-go-on-with-this-forever-and-still-have-to-admit-in-the-end-that “there’s no place like home” it’s as if all of America went to sleep on August 25th, 1939 and our collective unconscious was committed to a moment precisely 19 minutes and 28 seconds into a film where a farmgirl from Kansas opened a door and stepped out from the sepia-tone of her twister-blown house into the magical other-reality of a color-processed fantasy-land called OZ.
In short, the very moment where the apex of technology allowed a realization and visualization of the American Dream, in that fateful movie year of 1939, to burst across those silver screens of yesteryear in glorious color.
And so, a final few words on that color process called Technicolor.
Again, I’d argue that The Wizard of Oz is the very film for which the highly-exaggerated, deep-saturated tones of Technicolor were made. Considering the well-documented “chaos” of the production, one could certainly dub Wizard the “crack cocaine” of 30’s filmmaking and not be far wrong. The colors are so deep and vivid, in fact, that I imagine one could actually overdose on many of those sugary-sweet images—think the Red of the poppy field or the Green of the Emerald City; the Yellow of its eponymous Brick Road; heck, even that indescribable Blue/Purple of the Munchkin Coroner’s coat—and, if viewed too intently, develop whatever is the visual equivalent of Diabetes.
As my imaginary publicist, “Speed” Jinxton McNab, pointed out, it’s the extreme contrast between our own brown-and-grey tone world—courtesy of the dreary realities of Depression-era Kansas—and the vibrant, almost violent, tones of, basically, every tone on the color spectrum—courtesy of a massive hallucination upon being knocked upside the head by a twister-blown window frame—that has given Wizard its unique power to enchant multiple generations of film audiences across 75 years of subsequent, and quite frankly anti-climactic, filmmaking.
Yep, a movie succeeded in flying Over The Rainbow at least once; one suspects a movie never will so succeed again.
IV. A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
(1946, The Archers, dir(s). Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)
“One is starved for Technicolor up there.”
Transatlantic cable responding to The Archers of London, Messrs. Powell & Pressburger; former Hollywood, CA publicity consultant, “Speed” Jinxton McNab…
Good evening, gentlemen. (Though by the time this cable reaches you it should probably be midday.)
Having essentially left the film industry five years ago, I received an intriguing proposition from your star, David Niven, to view a pre-release cut of your astonishing screen fantasy, A Matter of Life and Death, at his N. Linden Drive home in Beverly Hills.
Frankly, gentlemen, I am overwhelmed.
I have been writing ad copy since 1928 for the color process—when approached by Jesse L. Lasky at Paramount Studios to rehabilitate the reputation of Von Stroheim’s masterful The Wedding March, which included a 5-minute sequence in two-strip Technicolor—and have not yet encountered such sensitive and, indeed, thematically-integrated usage of the painterly-dyed tones of Dr. Kalmus’s [Herbert Thomas Kalmus; scientist, engineer, and inventor of Technicolor] great contribution to the art of motion pictures.
Now, I feel that that contribution has been fully realized.
Your story of an RAF bomber (David Niven) who, shot down over the English Channel, must defend his right to live before a spiritual conclave of the greatest minds who ever lived (or, more accurately, died) after an Envoy of Death (Marius Goring) ‘misses’ the young flyer in the fog–and who, in the interim, has fallen in love with an American radio operator (Kim Hunter)–brings a new maturity and complexity to a color film process that has been too often dismissed as suitable only for escapist musical and historical subjects.
The decision, gentlemen, to render our war-torn, strife-ridden world in sensuous Technicolor and your “afterlife,” if I may so term it, in monochrome black & white is an inspired one; both undercutting and challenging a film audience’s notion of “reality.” Is the Other World, that which lies just beyond our own, the elaborate hallucination of a very imaginative young man, or does it in fact represent the outer realm to which all souls who live and die must go?
The fact that you never fully answer this question is the unresolved basis upon which great art is made.
Frankly, this movie could have never been made in America. Our own screen fantasies, I fear, have been too eager to placate the commercial and morally-prudish interests that control the Hollywood film studios.
As such, I foresee problems from both the American censors at the Hays Office—who will undoubtedly wish you to resolve the issue of whether the young flyer has indeed seen “Heaven”—and Dr. Kalmus’s erstwhile wife, Natalie [Natalie Kalmus; Technicolor “consultant” from 1934-1949], who, I take it, has strongly objected to your chromatic mixture of color with black & white. (But then, what does the latter know, when this was the very person to object to a similar color/sepia-tone mixture in no less than The Wizard of Oz?)
My suggestion: submit the film, unaltered, to the Hays Office under the title of A Stairway to Heaven. The Hollywood movie censors will miss the subtlety of your poetic drama when “heaven” is in the title and Ms. Kalmus will be placated by the notion that Our World and The Other are two distinct, yet equally legitimate, realms.
Audiences, however, may respond more favorably and, one hopes, rise to the challenge of your bracingly eccentric and involving screen fantasy.
I think it is no exaggeration to say that Powell & Pressburger’s 1946 wartime fantasy, A Matter of Life and Death, is to British film what The Wizard of Oz is to American film. Both seem to have sprung forth fully-formed from the historical period and culture which engendered them and, reiterating a point I made last week on my write-up to Wizard, so successfully draw-upon, or reflect, the country and people who made them that each becomes a sort of motion picture ‘snapshot’ of the hopes, fears, and dreams of a particular place, people, and time.
Here, it’s rocket-shelled and bomb-blasted wartime England, where the barrier between life & death is a V-2 missile away from an entire city block of people passing, in the space of an instant, from one state to the next. (The story may be apocryphal, but it is nonetheless frightening to think that an entire movie theatre, along with everyone inside, was incinerated during the mid-40’s London premiere ofGone with the Wind.) As stated by “Speed” Jinxton McNab’s final appearance on these pages, a young RAF pilot’s case to live, as argued by his recently passed-over spiritual representative (Roger Livesy), takes on added significance when one considers the horrors of wartime and the thinness of that barrier.
Is it a dream? It’s never revealed one way or the other, but whether RAF squadron commander Peter Graham’s (David Niven) existential/spiritual/physiological dilemma is resolved becomes immaterial after his brain is successfully operated in Our World and his case is successfully argued in The Next.
The answer? (Or, more accurately, solution?) The very 4-letter word the guy typing this morning’s write-up has always gagged on, but one that, in those spheres beyond our own, ultimately saves and redeems mankind and, more terrestrially, was to be proclaimed by a quartet of mop-haired Scousers—twenty years after the release of this film—to be All [We] Need.
And I’ll leave it at that.
Now for a few brief words on Technicolor.
By this point, the writing-producing-directing team of English-born Michael Powell & German-Jewish émigré Emeric Pressburger had made one outstanding Technicolor feature, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), and, following WWII, would specialize in utilizing Technicolor to increasing sophistication in subsequent features like Black Narcissus (1947), The Red Shoes (1948), Gone to Earth(1950), The Tales of Hoffman (1951), and many others.
Here, Jack Cardiff’s cinematography frees the metric-ton camera equipment to rove and track about his visual compositions, resulting in some of the most indelible images yet attempted with the color process.
One of the most famous Technicolor sequences from the film involves the young flyer being escorted on a gurney to an operating theatre. The entire scene is shot in an astonishing single-take, entirely from the character’s point-of-view, no less—staring up at the ceiling down a long corridor as those wheeling him forward pop in and out of view above—and, as he is being administered the anesthetic, fades to the viscous, red-and-black background of his blinking eyelids(!) as he passes out of consciousness… And it doesn’t even end there as the camera, in the same shot(!), pans down the colored viscera to transition to the silvery grey & pearly white tones of The Outer Universe, tracking—slowly, but surely—into the very Celestial Court in which the spiritual drama will soon unfold.
“Masterful” simply does not do the sequence justice and contains, in miniature, the astonishing technique which serves to effortlessly link story & theme to image & artistic intent and, by extension, the means by which the height of technology—i.e., Technicolor—could realize the outer limits of the human imagination.
No clever capper this time out, friends, just be sure to see this movie should you get the chance.