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DEJA VU

Hey, Moe! You look funny

August 15, 2004|Susan King

Flesh tone alert! Colorization is back.

Along with the mullet hairstyle, Vanilla Ice and Andrew Dice Clay, colorization was among the biggest embarrassments of the 1980s and early '90s.

Colorized, Humphrey Bogart looked like he was wearing tinted Clearasil on his mug; Kirk Douglas' hair was the color of Howdy Doody's.

But that didn't deter mogul Ted Turner's big push to attract young viewers to such classics from his vast film library as "The Big Sleep" and "The Bad and the Beautiful" by freshening them up with color.

Other companies soon followed Turner's lead.

"It's a Wonderful Life" was turned into a paint-by-numbers mess. Even Shirley Temple went under the brush and lost all her charm in the process.

Thanks to complaints of filmmakers and movie purists, colorization faded from sight like a painful memory.

Until now.

Columbia TriStar Home Video has unleashed two collections of vintage Three Stooge shorts in computerized color. Nyuk, nyuk, yuck!

Why the just-add-color revival?

"This highly refined coloring process brings incredible new life to black and white classics and has the potential to win over a more contemporary audience for these films," states Lexine Wong, executive vice president of worldwide marketing, on the press release. "It all adds up to a truly unique DVD experience...."

Yes, declares the DVD box, the Three Stooges are even funnier in color.

The colors are pretty amusing. Though computer colorization has improved by leaps and bounds over the years, the palette often defies description -- just take a gander at Larry's henna-red hair. And there could be new levels of hilarity in toggling back and forth between color and the original black and white as Moe, Larry and Curly slap one another silly.

Next up from Columbia Tristar is the colorized version of the 1962 black-and-white Steven McQueen action-adventure "The War Lover."

Who knows? It might just be more exciting in color.

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