"The Picture of Dorian Gray" Question

I just saw this old movie on TCM…great flick! The movie was madein 1940 I believe, and was shot in black and white, except for one small sequence…when Dorian looks at his portrait (it had changed into a horrible picture of an ugly old man)-the portrait was shown in full color! How was this done…did they just insert a color syill into the movie?
Anyway, a great movie…I’ll have to see it again!

First, there were several shots of the picture, all of them in colour.

I don’t understand the question. What are you asking?

Colour film had been invented (both cine film and still) but was expensive compared to black and white. There was nothing particularly difficult about inserting a few brief colour sequences into a black and white film.

“Dorian Gray” came out in 1945. By that point, there had been a number of color films out there, including some I know you’ve heard of, like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With the Wind”

In Lon Chaney’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925?), his entrance to the masked ball as the Red Death was in color, but that may have been from the film being tinted, tho I it was probably actual color film.

There were loads of experimental color processes almost from the very beginning of movie making. The one that we remember today is Technicolor, and I believe the first major movie using that process was Becky Sharp in 1935.

Motto of Café Society: Everything happened earlier than you thought it did.

Halliwell’s Filmgoer’s Companion lists the following movies as black & white with color sequences:

Kid Millions 1935
Victoria the Great 1937
Wizard of Oz 1939
Irene 1940
Moon and Sixpence 1942
Picture of Dorian Gray 1944
Matter of Life and Death 1945
Task Force 1949
Secret Garden 1949

among others. It doesn’t list Mighty Joe Young but I’m pretty sure it used color just for the climactic fire.

They colourised the relevant parts of the relevant frames. It’s the same procedure used to brutally massacre old b&w films for the benefit of modern morons who don’t understand that films weren’t always made in colour.

Processes for coloring film have existed since the early days of cinema, and the first color film was made in 1918, IIRC.

No, they just used ordinary colour film. It was the entire shot that was in colour, not just the painting.

The masked ball scenes, including the Phantom’s appearance as the Red Death, were photographed in Technicolor Process No. 2, also known as two-color Technicolor. However, the nighttime scene on the roof of the opera house was photographed in black and white, with the Phantom’s cape being stencil-tinted red on release prints. The DVD release improves on this by using digital technology to color the cape. Quite dramatic.

Other silent features with sequences photographed in Technicolor include The Ten Commandments (1923), Ben-Hur (1925), and The King of Kings (1927). All are available on home video, with Technicolor scenes intact. Enjoy.

Mighty Joe Young used tinted stock for the climactic fire scene.

The first feature made in natural color was the documentary The Durbar at Delhi (UK, 1912), photographed in Kinemacolor. The first dramatic feature photographed in Kinemacolor was The World, the Flesh and the Devil (UK, 1914). The first Technicolor feature was The Gulf Between (US, 1918).

The Development of Color Cinematography.

Might have been better if they had just tinted the portrait, though. I always thought it looked a bit silly to suddenly have the entire shot in color that way when really just the painting was supposed to be special. Still a nice effect, though.

Yes, color has been available for a long time. However, I saw The Picture of Dorian Gray as it was released and I don’t recall any color in it at all. I believe that what has been done is to colorize the scenes referred to in the OP for today’s viewing audience.

No, the color scenes were in the film from the start. If you don’t remember them then you are misremembering.

Your memory is wrong. The inserts of the painting were photographed in Technicolor in 1945, and were part of the original release. They are not “colorized” for today’s audiences. You can check any of several contemporary reviews (New York Times, Variety, etc.) for verification.

Lamia, your memory is off too. In the Technicolor shots, only the painting is seen; they are all closeups of only the canvas.

Well, I’ll be damned! This is absolutiely the first time in all of history that my memory has failed me and I stand corrected. No outside verification is required.

I could swear that part of the wall and maybe a chair is visible too…does anyone know where I could see some screen shots? I’m not sure how they could do a close shot of a vertically-oriented portrait without showing some of the wall too. But I just searched on Google and couldn’t turn up anything except stills from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. :rolleyes:

I’m remembering the same as Lamia. I remember the gilt frame being gold and background colors and thinking it would have been much more effective if they’d only colored the portriat itself.

Of course these controversies, so easily resolved by reviewing my tape, only seem to come up when I’m in the midst of taping something else so I can’t verify.

David Simmons, I don’t see any need to be snarky. Walloon suggested a method by which you may obtain independent verification. I’m sure your local library will have archived newspapers from the time of the film’s American release (March 1945) if it really means that much to you.

To hijack a bit, I’ve really been wishing that someone would remake this with Jude Law as Dorian, before it’s too late.