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What was the first Technicolor film?

(A quick run-through of color films for the people who have no damn patience to read ten pages about it.)

To answer the question above, the first Technicolor film was not The Wizard of Oz. I, the webmaster here, have been asked this question many times and I thought I could possibly clear some things up. Not that I mind being asked, no, not at all, but I hope this page can be a source to people unaware of classic film.

The first successful color process was called Kinemacolor and was two-colored. It was developed by George Albert Smith, an Englishman, and he made his first "color" film in 1906. Kinemacolor consisted of both the filming process and projection being done through red and green filters. It was very expensive for the projector and the film went through much wear-and-tear. The film went through the projector two times the normal speed of a regular film. There was a total of fifty-four films made in Kinemcolor in Britian during the years of 1910 and 1912. Turns out, only three other dramatic films were made in this color process besides La Tosca (1912).


Landmarks in Kinemacolor History.

- The first commercially produced movie was Smith's A Visit to the Seaside (1908). It was eight-minutes long and was shown in September of the same year.

- The first ever public presentation of a Kinemacolor short was before a paying audience in London, England in 1909. They showed twenty-one short films, supposedly all "actualities."

- The first dramatic film made in Kinemacolor was titled Checkmated (1910) and was directed by Theo Brouwnmeester. He also played the lead role. Show off.

- The first AMERICAN (big difference) Kinemacolor film was La Tosca (1912) with Lillian Russel, a stage star.

- The first full-length film was a five-reel melodrama entitled The World, The Flesh, and The Devil (1914) in the glorious Kinemacolor.


Technicolor, Boys and Girls, a Wonderful New Gadget!

- The first Technicolor film was titled The Gulf Between (1917) and was made in Florida. It was made for the main reason of showing it in the eastern cities and to create intrigue in colored films among producers and exhibitors. The film today is now "lost" and only a few frames even survive.

- The first "Hollywood-Produced" Technicolor film was a drama titled The Toll of the Sea (1922). Most of the film can be seen on video today. I'm pretty sure its silent.

- Another non-talking film made in Technicolor was The Black Pirate (1926) and starred Douglas Fairbanks. He also produced it. The color was wonderful for the time period and can still look good when seen today. But, on a video or DVD, not from a projector.

- The following films had Technicolor sequences and of course, were silent: The Ten Commandments (1923), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Ben-Hur (1925) and King of Kings (1926). All of these films can be found of video (good luck finding them!) with their color in tact.


Boys and Girls, You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet!

You can talk color and you can talk sound. When you put it together, it can be deadly...deadly entertaining, that is. The first TALKING Technicolor film was from Warner Brothers Studio. It was a musical entitled On With the Show (1929).

- All of the color films up to that time were made up of two-color processes and could only capture three colors of light. In 1932, Technicolor perfected a three color production, also known as three-strip Technicolor (three negatives were put into the camera: red, green and blue). It was introduced in Walt Disney's cartoon, Flowers and Trees (1932). It was the first cartoon to win the Academy Award for, well...cartoons. It can be seen today and on a DVD entitled Silly Symphonies. I think I have seen this cartoon, so you have have also.

- The first "live-action" three-strip Technicolor film was the finale of MGM's musical, The Cat and The Fiddle (1934) and was released in February of that same year. This was nine months before the short La Cucaracha (1934), which is usually considered the first "live-action" film.

- The first full-length feature film in handy-dandy three-strip Technicolor was a comedy-drama, Becky Sharp (1935). It was based on a novel by Thackery entitled Vanity Fair. Mariam Hopkims had the leading role and even recieved an Academy Award nomination for her performance. Wings of the Morning (1937) was the first Technicolor production made in England.


That's Our Show. Don't Come Back Now, You Hear?

Feel free to come back to this page any time you need to. Don't you feel smart, knowing the history of color film? Correct your friends and family with your new vast collection of knowledge. For more information on early color and Technicolor, feel free to check out these links below. Happy reading!


- Early Motion Picture Processes


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