We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I got the TCM habit being a sleeper-with-tv-on, and needing something without Billy Mays, Lord rest his soul. No ads on TCM.
Then i started noticing that there is something else up there on the screen, something that the players and producers could not possibly have intentionally put there, nor known that it would be there five or so decades hence.
I could write forever on it, but for brevity, call it the fit and finish, durability and pride, evident in the beyond-the-script (nondescript?)manners, reactions and movements of the players and the artifacts of the settings. All pointing out, subliminally, to anyone watching then or now that these folks are from a really strikingly confident and capable culture with little time for or interest in second-guessing, tentativeness, or navel-gazing.
I don't mean the film, I mean what the people who made the film, on screen and off, brought with 'em from Smallville and Center City, and gave away about themselves in the very act of being.
The film is just the record of that, almost the statistical data, embodied.
It's the black and white believe it or not. And there happens to be a reason why.
It all stared with the Cohen Brothers and the movie "Brother, Where Art Thou?" made in 2000. This was the first movie ever to be transferred from film to digital for editing purposes. in a process called digital intermediary or DI for short.
Now in digital land, you have all kinds of nifty tools to manipulate color, shades, gradients - heck you can ever adjust lighting angle - all the goodies Photoshop allows you to use and more. Now you would think that this would be a positive development right?
Didn't turn out that way because of something called complimentary colorizing. Two colors became prominent, orange and teal. Orange because flesh tones, even those of black folks, have a component of orange. The complimentary color to orange is...wait for it...wait for it - teal.
Color theory 101 tells us that complimentary colors are perceived as having warmth and "pop" or presence. But there is a little problem with this combination - it only works when the orange and teal are brighter than the surround - which means that the imagery has to be "cold' or done with a "cold" blue filter in order for the orange and teal to really shine. Thus movies became "darker" and "colder" while adding "warmth" to the oranges and "pop/presence" to the teal. I'm not making this up - it is an actual problem with movies today.
Take an animated movie for example - notice how all the colors are bright, no dark backgrounds, every color has presence and vibrance? Or a nature documentary in HD on the TV? Same thing. Then check a recent movie - dark, dark, dark and the orange/teal thing being paramount. You only have to look at a Michael Bay movie (Transformers") or most recently "Thor" or "Captain America" to see what I'm talking about. Check it out.
Anyway, back to black and white. Gray scale isn't just a variation of black on white. Gray scaling allows for just as many variations in tone as color - it's just tones of black, white and gray. Thus you get subtle changes that actually look more realistic and life like than you get with color. Brightness and contrasts are endlessly variable with black and white - no so with color.
Lastly, in the black and white era, camera lensing was sharp and crisp - sometimes the lenses were huge - up to 22 elements and so sharp you could almost cut air with the edges of the image. This gives, as odd as this may sound, depth and an almost 3D effect to black and white movies.
Ok, so you're thinking - ok, he's off on another tangent again. Nope - it all fits. ".....the fit and finish, durability and pride, evident in the beyond-the-script (nondescript?) manners, reactions and movements of the players and the artifacts of the settings" as you so elegantly stated are the direct result of the differences of the multi-shades and tones of black and white vs the idiocy of orange and teal run through cold filter blue.
And with that, I'll just go quietly into the night - never to be heard from again. Or until next time that is. :>)
That color in the Coen Bro's masterpiece ''Oh Brother'' --had never realized it until reading TF above, but to anyone raised (like me) around the red clay outcropping in Louisiana and Mississippi (it's the Wilcox formation, boundary of Eocene [the Age of Horses] and Paleocene Ages within the Tertiary Era, pretty deeply buried trending westward across south Texas but on the surface in LA and MS), that is, in the real lands that are in the script as milieu of the film, knows that the film's hue is accurate. Reel life and real life are both that color. The film's warmish autumnal hue also dominates the great Pine forests of northern Louisiana and a broad middling swath of Mississippi, especially in the rural areas of dirt roads and plowed fields, via the fine red dust.
The Coens are magnificent. Big-hearted, deeply conservative, serious and seriously funny, crackling intelligent and most of all luminously entertaining. The screen action is intricate but light and quick, with the weight deep inside characters who never seem to have the foggiest notion that they are in a movie.