Technicolor ACTUALLY WORKED! The studios took note of the quality output of the company and began to slowly use the system on their big films. The cost was monumental, raising a film budget by nearly 50%, but audiences, for the first time, showed a preference for color movies and the studios profited. Disney, ever on the cutting edge, took simple animation a step further with the invention of the multiplane camera that gave his films a truly three dimensional quality. It was tested first on a short called The Old Mill and followed with the granddaddy of all animated features, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The Fleischers, over at Paramount, tried, with some success, to create animation that would give Walt a run for his money. Their answer to Disney's multiplane camera was the use of actual 3-dimensional sets, which did create some uncanny effects.
By 1939 it would appear that Henry Fonda had become Mr. Technicolor as his home studio, 20th Century-Fox, used the process on a number of features. Over the years it has become fashionable to denigrate the powerful studio heads of the 20's through the 60's, but many, like Darryl F. Zanuck at Fox, were keen to see movies made as good as they could be. Zanuck pushed for large format in the early 30's, brought CinemaScope and stereophonic sound into neighborhood theatres, and had affairs with a long string of incredibly talentless bimbos. A man for all seasons.
as seen in the museum's cyber-theatre
In Great Britain, Hungarian expatriate Sir Alexander Korda embraced Technicolor in the late 1930s and produced some of the most striking films ever made in the process. Sadly, Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book is a difficult film for modern viewers to see in its original Technicolor glory. Four Feathers, first made as a silent film by Merian C. Cooper, is available to relish in a splendid transfer that has the vivid red coats of the British army. It features extensive location photography made in the Sudan. Both films are highly entertaining and contain landmark music scores by Miklos Rozsa.
Korda posters courtesy of the Setnik Collection
Example of Technicolor dye transfer immortality,
Quo Vadis trailer after more than half a century
Created for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by Pacific Title
Meanwhile in England, Technicolor-London benefited from the talents of giants like Jack Cardiff, standing in front of the monstrous blimped Technicolor camera and his operator, Geoffrey Unsworth, who would earn substantial recognition on his own.