place at the Saratoga Springs track.) Cooper got Jock into the color-picture mood and Jock got Sonny to go in with him, and the result was Pioneer Pictures, organized in the spring of 1933, distributing through RKO. There is no corporate connection between Technicolor and Pioneer Pictures. Pioneer will get its film from Technicolor on the same basis as any other producer. But a personal connection between the two companies is established by a large block of Technicolor stock bought by the two Whitneys.
We have already mentioned the Whitney & Co. interest in Technicolor, and estimated it at an eventual 15 per cent of the company. This interest has an important bearing on the probable permanence of Pioneer Pictures. It is altogether likely that Pioneer Pictures will lose money on its early productions, particularly since Mr. Whitney is determined to turn out pictures slowly, carefully, and expensively. But should Pioneer Pictures be sufficiently successful to inspire a color vogue among the standard producers, Technicolor stock would undoubtedly zoom. If we estimate that the Whitneys have 100,000 shares of Technicolor, and if we assume a rise of from $13 to $20 a share (and a real color splurge would result in considerably more elevation), it is obvious that a loss in Pioneer would be more than made up for by a gain in Technicolor. This is an important item, because although Mr. Whitney does many things for fun he also does them for money and has never been interested in putting portions of the Whitney fortune down any sewers. But with two horses in the color-picture stakes, he can afford to use one as a pacemaker for the other.
Pioneer has not yet produced any full-length pictures, but in the already mentioned La Cucaracha it has turned out a two-reeler which represents the furthest north that color has yet achieved. Except for hiring Robert Edmond Jones (at $1,000 a week) as art director and borrowing Kenneth (Little
Women) MacGowan as "producer," Pioneer put no big names into La Cucaracha, and both plot and cast are adequate rather than impressive. Much of the work on the set was done by an able newcomer, Mrs. Carolin Bumiller Wharton (Mr. Wharton is Pioneer's lawyer). But the colors are clear and true: when a gentleman in a closeup turns red with anger you can see the color mounting in his cheeks; and there is no question that color has made of La Cucaracha an outstanding short. At times it has a very slow tempo, almost suggesting a series of still pictures rather than a continuous flow of illustrated action. And the whole picture is played in an extremely subdued light which is at least one remove from nature. Neither of these defects, however, is inherent in Technicolor, and both are present in La Cucaracha because Mr. Jones, in his use of lights, is symbolist first and realist second. La Cucaracha used 82,000 feet of film and cost about $65,000. The usual short costs little more than $15,000, but most shorts are cheaply made, whereas La Cucaracha was made like a short feature.
Full-length three-color pictures are still in the future. The first of Mr. Cooper's remaining RKO pictures, the Last Days of Pompeii, as noted above, may be done in color. At the same time Pioneer will go ahead, under the supervision of Kenneth MacGowan, with the first of the nine pictures it has contracted to produce in 1934, 1935, and 1936. Picture No. 1 will be Becky Sharp, which is the screen title for a screen version of Thackeray's Vanity Fair. Then there is Peacock's Feather, the picture that Walter Wanger will do with Ann Harding, and some talk of Warner Bros'. doing a color version of The Miracle. And there will definitely be a color sequence in Kid Millions, the new Cantor picture, with Willy Pogany designing the sets. With so many possibilities to pick from, it seems altogether likely that the cinema public will soon get another chance to see