We have seen that Technicolor first came into prominence just after the transition from silent to talking pictures. And that among its first sponsors was the same Jack Warner whose brilliant experiment with talking pictures turned Warner Bros. from a company that made $30,000 in 1927 into one that made $17,271,000 in 1929. (And also lost $6,291,000 in 1933.) Naturally receptive to another new cinema idea, Mr. Warner was the first man to contract for a regular series of feature pictures in color. In 1929 he used color in some sequences of the Desert Song and then made an all-color picture, On With the Show, the first all-talking, all-color picture. This was followed by Gold Diggers of Broadway, which has grossed $3,500,000, ranks among the first half-dozen of all-time outstanding box-office attractions.* And just as the Warner experiment with sound led the other producers into the noisy cinema, so On With the Show resulted in a color vogue. Producers swarmed down upon Dr. Kalmus, waving cash and demanding
*Three highest all-timers are the Singing Fool (Warner-1928), $5,000,000; Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Metro-192I), $4,500,000; Ben Hur (Metro-1926), $4,000,000.
footage. They put up more than $1,500,000 as down payment on future contracts. But as the French Marshal is quoted as remarking about the Charge of the Light Brigade, "it is magnificent, but it is not war." Technicolor laboratories were not equipped to handle one-tenth of the volume they actually turned out. (In 1929 and 1930 – 76,700,000 feet.) At one time the extremely delicate process of printing the film was being carried on in a building of which one wall had been torn away to make room for enlarging the structure. A job that requires virtually laboratory conditions was being performed amid the debris of falling bricks and the roar of the riveters' gun. And it was not being well performed.
The good early pictures were succeeded by mediocre and bad. Not that the fault was entirely Technicolor's. The producers themselves had very little color sense, either from the standpoint of getting esthetic compositions or from the standpoint of acquiring a color-picture technique. A color picture is not a black and white in color; the whole staging and shooting job has to be designed from the beginning with reference to its colored