Technicolor Entrepreneur Kalmus Was Visionary, Stubborn and “in It for the Long Haul”

(p. C15) Judy Garland opening a door from black-and-white Kansas into Technicolor Oz is one of the most enchanting effects in all of movies. But as film historians James Layton and David Pierce relate in “The Dawn of Technicolor: 1915-1935,” the technology that made “The Wizard of Oz” possible came from people who were looking to start a business, not to make art.
The creators of Technicolor–engineer W. Burton Wescott and MIT graduates Daniel Comstock and Herbert T. Kalmus–were visionary, though stubborn is just as accurate.
. . .
In 1934 Fortune magazine wrote, “Businessmen regard Dr. Kalmus as a scientist, and scientists regard him as a businessman.” Comstock and Westcott eventually left the company in the mid-1920s, but Kalmus was in it for the long haul. . . .
Once perfected, Technicolor had a virtual monopoly on color Hollywood productions, and it did indeed make Kalmus and his investors rich. But it took steel nerves to put money into the unprofitable, ever-tinkering Technicolor of the early days.

For the full review, see:
FARRAN SMITH NEHME. “The Very Thought of Hue; Early color films gave viewers headaches. It took decades to develop a process that didn’t simply look odd.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., April 11, 2015): C15.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date April 10, 2015.)

The book under review is:
Layton, James, and David Pierce. The Dawn of Technicolor: 1915-1935. Rochester, NY: George Eastman House, 2015.

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