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'Colorizing' Black-and-White Movies

November 29, 1986

Re your editorial on Ted Turner's spray-painting of black-and-white classics: if you find the color "remarkably good," you must have adored the Kem-Tones of Cinecolor, Trucolor et al. of the '40s and '50s. Nor is there anything "odd" about why black and white is integral to such as "Citizen Kane," "Rebecca," "Laura," etc.

Black-and-white cinematography is a totally different art form than color--which is why Peter Bogdanovich used it for "Paper Moon" and Woody Allen for "Manhattan," to name two examples.

What Turner is doing is the equivalent of having Lillian Gish dub "Broken Blossoms" or "Way Down East" for sound--again, apples and oranges.

Do you think, for example, that Lana Turner's all-white-costumed, dropped-lipstick entrance in "The Postman Always Rings Twice" would be half as effective in color? We shall soon know because, God help us, "Postman" is on Turner's hit list as well.

But not to despair. They are working from excellent black-and-white prints so that all a viewer need do is simply tune out the color and have an excellent original for viewing or taping. Still--the whole idea (musicals excepted) is asinine.

DICK SHEPPARD

Los Angeles

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