Saturday, April 27, 2013

I Love Lucy in REAL color

This is an amazing video. Someone in the audience of a 1951 taping of I LOVE LUCY took color home movies. Because of the sprockets I'm guessing he only shot when there was a lot of other noise on the set, or between takes. But anyway, here are scenes of the Copa nightclub and the Ricardo apartment, intercut with clips from the actual episode. This was the first time in my entire life that I saw the color scheme for the Richardo apartment. If you're a TV historian (or geek like me) you'll love this video.

43 comments:

AndrewJ said...

Awesome. Totally awesome.

Dave Williams said...

FABULOUS! SHARING!

normadesmond said...

don't let ted turner see this,
it may give him ideas.

Joyce said...

Amazing the difference between the actual colors and the colors that have been in my mind all my life, i.e., those shirts the band was wearing.

Anonymous said...

Proof that even in the 50s, the guy down in front had his iPhone out.

Mac said...

That's amazing. The amount of super8 stuff that pops up on youTube is fabulous. There's one recently appeared of Elvis at Madison Square Gardens. God bless these lawbreakers with old Super8 cameras; they've left us an amazing archive!

LouOCNY said...

The episode is "The Audition", one of the very very early episodes of Lucy. It was a reworking of the original pilot, and is an I.L.L. oddity, as Fred is in it, but not Ethel.

In the color footage showing the setup for the last scene, the gentleman with the curly hair, and work shirt is the first season director of Lucy, Marc Daniels. Daniels is for some reason pretty much left out of the picture, for some reason, when discussing the pioneering work of Desi Arnaz and Karl Freund the cinematographer in creating I Love Lucy, and in extension, the sitcom format. He was also one of the early pioneers of live TV drama. Not to mention being of THE top episodic TV directors of the 60's an 70's. The STAR TREK work alone is enough to make him a legend.

YEKIMI said...

The first time in your ENTIRE life? So you've passed away and are writing this from the great beyond?
Snarkiness aside, a Friday question: Even though shows were filmed in black and white, didn't they still have to watch what actual color schemes they used on set because of the black/white/grey tones that the colors would show up as when filmed in black & white? I think I remember reading or hearing something about that during an old photography class I took centuries ago.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Neat-o!

Johnny Walker said...

Very nice!

Hollywoodaholic said...

Very cool. The colors were better in black & white.

Mike McCann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike McCann said...

I wonder if the wall colors were chosen so they would be "punchier" in black and white (since that's how the audience would see it)...

Lucy's hair WAS that red. Amazing.

Also, since that building (General Service Studios, right?) has gone through several sets of owners, did you ever direct an episode, or attend a taping of a show you helped craft while standing on that same hallowed ground?

Victor Velasco said...

Wow; watched open mouthed. Never had a color TV till early 70's and found myself cataloging what hues everything in the frame was...like the old days of going to someones house with a color set and then reporting back on Bonanza or Hazel or Joey Bishop even!
Not to digress too much, but I would recommend seeing the color industrial from about '57 with Hugh Beaumont and Jerry Mathers; it's for a chain of funeral parlors and in its own way, it is freaky!

LouOCNY said...

Victor - is that on YouTube anywhere?

LouOCNY said...

Mike - They made all those 'henna rinse' jokes on ILL for a reason!

Victor - there is also the splashy color film that Lucy and Desi made of touring the Desilu lot, right after they bought it from RKO:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDWTCOwB_MU

Mrs. Trumbull said...

I have a porn film of Lucy and Desi, and I can verify that she was 100% redhead. Very erotic, until Ethel just comes waltzing in.

Janet said...

Isn't it the Tropicana?

Stephanie said...

Love, Love, Love this! Thanks for posting!

Janice said...

I get a kick out of watching two movies Lucille and Desi did together during the run of "I Love Lucy". They were "The Long, Long Trailer" and "Forever, Darling". They wore some of the same clothing from "I Love Lucy" and, the movies being filmed in color, it was a special treat to see what the clothing actually looked like.

Here's one example... you might remember this particular dress from "I Love Lucy":

http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4103/5065325831_e12ac76641_z.jpg

Kirk said...

Artistically, I don't know if I LOVE LUCY would have been better or funnier had it been filmed in color, but it does seem less remote, less locked in time.

Thanks for showing this.

Paul Duca said...

I watched the documentary BROADWAY: THE AMERICAN MUSICAL, and they had color home movie footage of the original production of PAL JOEY in 1940.

Welcome To The Wish Granters Books said...

Fabulous. And love seeing a bit of behind the scenes. Thanks!

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Friday question: I recently had occasion to meet and have lunch with a producer on a successful show that has just been cancelled. What's the etiquette here? Is it done to send a note of condolence?

Re obscure video: I have found elsewhere on the net (but not on a site to which I can post a link) copies of the two earlier pilots of THREE'S COMPANY that you posted only to find that YouTube had taken them down. Interesting stuff: the first unaired pilot is, as you said, written by Larry Gelbart and has two different women in the leads; the second one, which lacks only Suzanne Somers from the eventual cast, is actually what I guess was intended to be the show's second episode. I had to go find the pilot that eventually aired to compare them because at the time I never watched the show (I lived in an apartment with three other girls and two guys in 1972, so it was hard for me to see the premise as in any way interesting!). It was definitely worth the study.

wg

XJill said...

Thank you LouOCNY for the link to the DesiLu tour - I love part 2 of the video as I love and work in Culver City! So cool!

chris mcdermott said...

thanks for this...loved the apartment decor. gee, the plants were green.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Are we sure this isn't time travel? I'm having a hard time believing anyone who was alive at the time of I LOVE LUCY's production would even know how to edit video on a computer, let alone, even know what YouTube is.

Wayne said...

Did you know 4 episodes of Lucy have been colorized.
Lucy Goes to Scotland
Lucy's Italian Movie where she stomps grapes
Lucy's Xmas show
Hollywood At Last where Lucy manages to ruin Bill Holden's day at the Brown Derby

I wish they'd colorize them all like they did with Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.

SeeLearnCraft said...

Real color beats faux color ... unless it's a 'hennarinsess.'

Writers are the bones for any effort, the rest simply drape and weave over their armature. Writers are some of my favorite things.

Ty said...

Even though shows were filmed in black and white, didn't they still have to watch what actual color schemes they used on set because of the black/white/grey tones that the colors would show up as when filmed in black & white? I think I remember reading or hearing something about that during an old photography class I took centuries ago

I think that's true. I've seen a picture of the Superman costume that George Reeves wore in the black and white episodes of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, and it was brown (for red), gray (for blue), and white (for yellow). The explanation for that was a costume in the correct colors (red, blue, and yellow) didn't look right when filmed in black and white.

I have a book with a color photo in it of Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore on the set for Rob and Laura Petrie's living room. That set just looks wrong in color. It's supposed to be shades of gray.

David Baruffi's Entertainment Views and Reviews said...

WOW! That was awesome!

Johnny Walker said...

I believe the THREE'S COMPANY pilots are available on the DVD box sets, if anyone wants to repeat this study for themselves, but can't find the videos online.

For a similar study there's an amazing article that shows you the different drafts one episode of The Simpsons went through. I can't seem to find it, though. *facepalm*

Steve Kravitz said...

David this footage are priceless. I grew up watching "I Love Lucy" and it was always my favorite TV show. I had the pleasure of meeting Lucie Arnaz in Miami several years ago and it was almost like meeting Lucille Ball in person.

Greg Ehrbar said...

Lucy's real hair color was the subject of many jokes, all the way through "Here's Lucy." In her later years, she wore wigs, always done up by longtime hairdresser Irma Kusely. They would use a temporary facelife system (tape on the forehead that is bound in the back) because her skin was too sensitive for surgery.

Don't know if TV or film used a grading system to make the most of what things look like in black and white, but I do know that Walt Disney had conversion charts as a guide for his black and white cartoons.

And when when the Bewitched titles were animated for black and white, the Hanna-Barbera artists used gray tones. When the show went to color, they had to re-do the animation.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

All this is why colorized stuff always looks wrong: *of course* designers chose items that looked the way they wanted for black and white; they'd have chosen completely differently for shooting in color.

I say embrace monochrome and show stuff as it was intended to be seen.

And speaking of modern black and white (and silent!) try the elegant and very emotional Biancanieves, just shown at this year's Ebertfest. Amazing stuff.

wg

Kirk said...

After Lucy was accused and then absolved of being a communist in the 1950s, Desi said that the only thing red about her was her hair, and even that wasn't real.

Famous! said...

Here are a couple of answers to the burning questions above, to which only certified geezers such as I, Mr. McCann and Mr. Levine can bear witness:

First, while the pirated home movie here may have been in the then-rare 8mm, Super 8 would not be invented for about another decade. It was a completely different frame size and socket format, meant to improve the picture quality of 8mm movies. The camera of record at the time of "I Love Lucy" was actually the great big 16mm jobbie (suitable for bicep curls).

Someone started the conversation about monochrome tones not being what they represented in B&W productions. The story of Superman's costume is highly representative of the way it was generally done (in the case of "Superman", only until ol' George went to color... interestingly, "The Adventures Of Superman" was one of the very first programs to put its entire budget into color film which, ironically, would never be played over the air in color for many more years!).

Live TV was a medium I got to see a lot of, as a kid in the late '50's and early '60's (my aunt worked at NBC... do the math!). While videotape has been the norm since Dirt, I am pre-Dirt, and guess what? Just about every daytime quiz show, kids' show, all of it, went out LIVE. And in black-and-white.

TV cameras were, of course, different from monochromatic film, in the way they transposed reality to black-and-white and live TV's substitute colors were a bit more severe. A typical black-and-white TV show would see the host bop out onto the stage, with a large, extreme swipe of RED across his forehead, and in his cheeks. Red didn't look too dark on TV, and enabled the emcee not to wash-out against his white shirt. Which was BLUE. Always. And stripes were verboten (see "moire").

Red did not get to play itself on camera, however. E.G., a performer would hold up an overly-large Colgate box or Dentine package, and there amidst the normal colors of the set would be this big monochrome logo. I can distinctly remember Soupy Sales at Metromedia, which cheaped-out on the color thingy for years, holding up some chewing gum mockup in all its B&W glory.

My first experience in a studio audience was Jan Murray's "Treasure Hunt", and a major blooper happened that day. The "Treasure Hunt" "pirate girl" swiveled out on stage, as she would every weekday, and sexily announced, "Jan, it's time for our Home Viewers' Treasure Hunt!"

Jan just looked at her, and as sweetly as possible, goes, "Dear... we don't HAVE a Home Viewer's Treasure Hunt today. Somebody WON THE MONEY!" And indeed, a previous contestant had found the jackpot in a treasure chest, during an earlier game, negating the need for our heroine's presence entirely.

Whatever color actually printed on black-and-white TV, it couldn't faithfully represent the red in that poor, mortified girl's face! I would kill to know whatever became of that model-turned-actress.

That was the day little me decided that this whole "media" thing was just too cool to pass up, as my life's work somehow. But I digress.

Blair Ivey said...

That is off the hook.

Reminded again that 'I Love Lucy' would sometimes mix a variety show in with a sit-com; sort of two shows for the price of one. Also reminded of Lucille Ball's comedic genius.

Mike said...

That Desilu lot promotional film (made to promote Westinghouse) was actually filmed in black and white and colorized a few years back.

laura linger said...

I cried while watching this, it is so wonderful.

I really like your blog.

Greetings from A Touch Of Tuesday Weld.

Laura
http://atouchoftuesdayweld.blogspot.com/

chuckcd said...

Very cool! Thanks Ken.

Dave Arnott said...

Ken, I'm late to post this, but in a similar vein, here's Stan Daniels doing a special warm-up bit for the Mary Tyler Moore Show audience. I have no idea why this exists, but I'm glad it does.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUPWMBZIU0w

Daniel Cahn said...

I get a kick seeing my late Father Dann Cahn on the set in the color footage. As I clean out his estate I have been finding some unique Desilu oddities !!!