The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Wed 12th February 2003. 6:20pm

Steve's notes from an interesting evening.

NFT Programme notes

Previews, Interviews & Special Events/A History of Colour
The History and Development of
Colour - An Illustrated Lecture

NFTVA Curator David Pierce surveys the challenges of photographing and projecting moving images in colour. There were many attempts to develop a practical colour system for motion pictures, and inventors had to overcome innumerable technical challenges including fringing and a limited range of colours.

Early systems used specially modified cameras and projectors, but later developers adapted and modified existing black and white technology for two-colour, then three-colour systems. This presentation will include examples from the Archive's collection of early colour, including a recently rediscovered British feature with sequences in Prizma colour, concluding with the successful three-colour Technicolor dye transfer system first used in the 1930s.

The programme will include the following extracts:

Stencil Colour

La Revue des revues (British release title Parisian Pleasures) France 1927; 726ft, c10 mins
Director: Alex Nalpas; With: Josephine Baker, Hélène Hallier, André Luget
A slight plot links Pathé stencil colour actuality footage of Paris revues from the Folies Bergères, the Moulin Rouges, and so on.

Cauterets/Beautiful French Scenery France 1917; 401ft, 6 mins
Production Company: Pathé
Travelogue of the spa resort in the Pyrénées.

The Mikado (from a 'Gaumont Mirror') UK 1926; 338ft c4.5 mins
Production Company: Gaumont
Scenes from the 1926 D'Oyly Carte production of The Mikado, designed by Charles Ricketts.

Handschiegl Process

Where the Sun Plays US 1928; c720ft, c8 mins
Production Company: Castle Films
Scenes of Arizona and the American West.


Two Clowns UK c.1906; 145ft, c1 min
Director: G.A. Smith; Production Company: Natural Color Kinematograph Company
Original black and white copy designed to be projected through alternate red and green filters at 32fps.

Camera: Moving Pictures The Electric Paradise UK tx.19.3.81; 1.5 mins
Director: David Naden; Production Company: Granada Television; Narrator: Gus MacDonald
Extract from a programme in this series on cinema pioneers showing the Kinemacolor projector and three short colour sections from Two Clowns, Pageant of New Romney, Hythe and Sandwich, and Animated Circus Dolls.

Tartans of Scottish Clans UK c.1906; 95ft, c1 min
Director: G.A. Smith; Production Company: Natural Color Kinematograph Company
Modern copy from black and white original, printed through filters.

Woman Draped in Patterned Handkerchiefs UK c.1908; 45ft, c1 min Director: G.A. Smith; Production Company: Natural Color Kinematograph Company
Modern copy from black and white original, printed through filters.

Friese Greene Colour

The Magic Box UK 1951; 130ft, c1 min Director: John Boulting; Production Company: Festival Film Productions; With: Robert Donat as William Friese Greene

Kino the Girl of Colour UK 1920; 53ft, c1 min
Director: William Friese Greene
Test filmed August-September 1920

The Open Road UK 1925; 243ft, 4 mins
Director: Claude Friese Greene
The Open Road was designed as a series covering John O'Groats to Land's End. The NFTVA acquired the original two-colour negatives almost exactly twenty years ago, in 1983, but in unedited form. The material is not in order, and intertitles are often indicated only in flash form while full-length ones may appear bunched together at some random point in a reel.

The Open Road
2 mins
Demonstration, by means of video, of images in black and white with alternat frames stained red and green, and the results of projecting the red/green coloured film.


Flames of Passion UK 1922; 179ft, c2 mins
Director: Graham Cutts; Production Company: Graham-Wilcox Productions; With: Hilda Bayley, Herbert Langley

Rheims US 1921; c600ft, c8 mins
Director: Charles Raleigh; Director of Photography: Otto C. Gilmore. Remains of historic buildings damaged during First World War.


The Farm UK 1938; 689ft, c8 mins, extract from first reel only
Director: Humphrey Jennings; Production Company: Dufay-Chromex
One of four films Humphrey Jennings made for Dufay. Some of the material was incorporated into his English Harvest (1938)

Two-Colour Technicolour

The Black Pirate US 1926; 595ft, c7 mins
Director: Albert Parker; Production Company: The Elton Corporation; With: Douglas Fairbanks, Billy Dove, Donald Crisp
'The ultimate pirate picture', and one of the first major feature productions to be shot entirely in the two-colour Technicolor process.

Legong, the Island of Virgins US 1935; 364ft, 4 mins
Production Company: Bennett Pictures Corporation; Producer: Henri de la Falaise; With: Goesti Poetoe Aloes, Mjoman Saplak, Mjoman Mjoang Mjong
Set in Bali, Leong is the story of temple dancer Poetoe (or Poutou) and her unrequited love for the young musician Mjong (Nyong). Here, Poetoe learns that Mjong is in love with her half-sister, Saplak.

Three-Strip Technicolor

Wings of the Morning UK 1935; 212ft, c2 mins
Director: Harold Schuster; Production Companies: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, New World Pictures; With: Henry Fonda, Annabella, John McCormack
Trailer for Britain's first 3-strip Technicolor feature.


Trade Tattoo UK 1937; 502ft, c6 mins
Director: Len Lye; Production Company: GPO Film Unit
A typical finely crafted Lye animation, made originally in 3-strip Technicolor.