Change to Color

by prtkahn

Created 04/04/13

Edit List

I thought it would be fun to see how many great directors with established careers in black-and-white had their first efforts in color represented in the Collection (turns out it's quite a few).

  • Although these movies are listed in roughly chronological order, with the four I haven't yet seen down at the bottom, this one's tops merely because I love the work of Ozu-san. His warm palette is already on full display in this first polychrome film of his; now we can see his trademark red teapot in all the richness of its hue.

  • Not Michael Powell's first solo color film, but it is the first color picture he co-directed. Surely it prepared him to tackle the challenges and possibilities of Colonel Blimp a few years later.

  • While this first color effort of Lubitsch's might have worked just as well in black-and-white, one wouldn't want to see Don Ameche and Gene Tierney here in any other way but gorgeous Technicolor.

  • Cited by Scorsese (along with Powell & Pressburger's The Red Shoes) as one of the two most beautifully shot films in Technicolor--and it's not hard to see why.

  • The bland, nearly-monochromatic color scheme of the Arpels' home stands in marked contrast with the riot of hues seen in the old town nearby, but here even the plastic hose produced by M. Arpel's factory and the modern automobiles are rich with color.

  • Admittedly, this was only the third feature Godard made, so one can hardly say that his career was as established as most of these other filmmakers, but who wouldn't want to see Anna Karina in full-throated color?

  • It's interesting to see how so many of the directors playing with color for the first time privileged red above other shades. Here, Fellini uses it to excellent psychedelic effect as he explores the psyche of Juliet, played superbly by his wife Giulietta Masina.

  • The way in which Antonioni colored apples and trees in this film in order to fully realize his artistic vision is simply awe-inspiring; the blues, grays, and reds linger with you.

  • The maestro of surrealism took to color like a duck to water--and how good Catherine Deneuve's icy blonde beauty and porcelain skin come across in this film.

  • Once again, the color red is itself nearly a character in the film, as Bergman proves that his Scandinavian cinema of existential themes can be rendered otherwise than merely black-and-white. (It's hard to believe that he waited until 1972 to explore the possibilities inherent in the medium.)

  • I've yet to see Kurosawa's initial foray into color cinematography, but will make it a priority.

  • After having seen Blithe Spirit, I look forward to seeing this film, Lean's first in Technicolor.

  • Yet another entry here I haven't yet had the pleasure of viewing...*sigh*.

  • I've been meaning to see this one, but after having watched The Leopard, I'm sure Visconti's first color film will be just as ravishing.


  • By prtkahn
    April 05, 2013
    02:48 AM

    If I made any errors in describing particular films as their director's first in color, please feel free to correct me; some I'm quite certain about, while others were "best guesses."
  • By Manny
    May 04, 2013
    11:44 PM

    Great list! I love " A Woman is a Woman". I still have to see a lot of the movies on this list. I better get on that!
  • By HarryZulu
    June 07, 2013
    01:20 PM

    Great list!! I think Hitchcock's first color, Rope, is interesting as well.
  • By fran_kie
    June 11, 2013
    10:50 AM

    very good idea for a list. thx for posting
  • By prtkahn
    July 13, 2013
    09:35 PM

    Thanks for all the feedback--corrections included!--that everyone's left on the list. You've given me some great titles to add to my list of films to watch.
  • By Eric Levy
    July 05, 2014
    07:50 AM

    What a great list! An addition: Excepting his negligible early short THE SEAFARERS, SPARTACUS was Kubrick's first color film.
  • By Ozuphile
    January 12, 2015
    12:34 PM