I DIG TECHNICOLOR (pt. 1)

After yesterday’s post on the 3-Strip Technicolor process as demonstrated in the ‘before and after’ reel of scenes from ‘Becky Sharp’, I’ve begun a slow and pleasant dive into a rabbit hole of Technicolor history. Above is a series of ‘color tests’ from 1933-1936 made for Pioneer Pictures, a subsidiary of RKO and the company responsible for producing ‘Becky Sharp’. The tests themselves are uneventful–actors being used as models while different hues of colors are tested. Things get very interesting however at 7:30 when Dolores Del Rio turns up in a slick red bathing suit and swims a lot for the camera. Then she’s weirdly joined by one of Willis O’Brien’s stop-motion monsters and…well, you just gotta see it. As is often the case with clips like this, the stuff we are watching isn’t the most interesting part; it’s the ‘meta’ of it all, the actors being summoned to act like models, the Technicolor technicians standing around like scientists evaluating their invention, the studio executives viewing these tests feigning interest while waiting impatiently for the Dolores Del Rio stuff to turn up. And, yes, the color tests themselves as viewed through the lens of history…

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