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September 19, 2011 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Will Your Favorite Star Survive Color? This article from a 1935 issue of the Hollywood fan magazine Photoplay breathlessly anticipates a new standard of screen beauty due to the spread of Technicolor motion pictures. You can read or download the whole magazine, for free, legally, at the Media History Digital Library.

The MHDL is a "non-profit initiative dedicated to digitizing collections of classic media periodicals that belong in the public domain for full public access". Fan magazines, trade papers, technical journals, and more! Check out the collections link for an explanation of what they have and how much of it.
posted by theatro (32 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go read up on "Bette Davis Tells You How To Protect Daintiness".
posted by theatro at 11:21 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of the hilariously fabricated kerfluffle a bit back about how HD TVs will destroy careers because you will suddenly be staring into every actor's changepurse-sized pores and gruesome blemishes and everyone's face turn into a nightmare landscape of scars and withered wrinkles and split ends.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:26 AM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having an article headline "Here's More PERFECTION for you!" strikes me as the strangest thing about this.
posted by The Whelk at 11:26 AM on September 19, 2011


Reminds me of the hilariously fabricated kerfluffle a bit back about how HD TVs will destroy careers because you will suddenly be staring into every actor's changepurse-sized pores and gruesome blemishes and everyone's face turn into a nightmare landscape of scars and withered wrinkles and split ends.

If you watch even a fraction of one scene of the Sex And The City movie on an HD set, you will pray for this kerfluffle to become reality, because oh my god.
posted by padraigin at 11:31 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the hilariously fabricated kerfluffle a bit back about how HD TVs will destroy careers because you will suddenly be staring into every actor's changepurse-sized pores and gruesome blemishes and everyone's face turn into a nightmare landscape of scars and withered wrinkles and split ends.

You say that now, but just wait until the new season of Dexter starts. I'm not sure if the world is ready for Edward James Olmos in HD.
posted by phunniemee at 11:31 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


See Also: John Gilbert
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:32 AM on September 19, 2011


What really gets to me now is the motion-smoothing some TVs have these days. Watching an older movie at a friend's place on his 50" HD-ALPHA-OMEGA-whatever TV almost made me seasick.
posted by pyrex at 11:39 AM on September 19, 2011


Margaret Sullivan Wants None Of It!

And, really, who can blame her?
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:43 AM on September 19, 2011


I remember a small rash (excuse the pun) of articles around the time that HD was launched here in the States about newsreaders who had to come up with better makeup techniques because of it to hide their blemishes better.
posted by inturnaround at 11:49 AM on September 19, 2011


Two words: Cameron Diaz
posted by signal at 11:53 AM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


"People are now prejudiced against color pictures because they have seen bad ones, made by the old, imperfect process. When they are shown movies in which the color has been brought to the screen truly and naturally, they won't be satisfied with black and white pictures any more."

And whether you agree with Jones or not, you are compelled to remember back, seven years ago, when sound came to the screen, and movie-goers resented the imperfect recordings, the cracked voices. They said it was just a fad, that silent pictures would remain, that the talkies would never be accepted.
Fascinating how every innovation encounters such resistance.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:18 PM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I remember a small rash (excuse the pun) of articles around the time that HD was launched here in the States about newsreaders who had to come up with better makeup techniques because of it to hide their blemishes better.

I'm actually really curious about what HD makeup looks like in person. I've seen live (or almost live) TV personalities on set in full broadcast-ready makeup and it looks fucking weird when not viewed through a TV set - to the point of hideousness and ugliness. (Though TV personalities often look weird in person with or without makeup.)

You'd think it's just a bit of pancake/foundation to even the skin tone (guys or girls) but it's actually usually a bit more complicated than that. Even male hosts often have a really thick layer of foundation/pancake and then some definition work like eyelid highlights, cheek highlights and even sometimes a bit of mascara or eyeliner or something to make the eyes pop under the bright lights.

Even guests on talk shows have makeup on. We're so used to it that people look weird and freaky and really pale or pallid without the makeup.

I'm guessing HD-ready makeup is even more flaw-concealing yet requires more subtle highlight and color work.
posted by loquacious at 12:18 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm actually really curious about what HD makeup looks like in person.

I've only seen it on our local news anchors visiting the Starbucks above their station, but if what I've seen is anything to go by, out of make-up, they look very much like they look on screen, but on the rare occasion I've seen them in makeup, I'd say it makes them look like they've had considerable (like Joan Rivers-level) plastic surgery, even if they haven't. (which is probably why they don't often make Starbucks runs when they are in makeup)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:25 PM on September 19, 2011


There is something to be said for how black & white favored stars whose features cast interesting shadows, e.g., Bogart, Cagney, Barrymore, Hepburn.
posted by Iridic at 12:27 PM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


loquacious: So it seems we haven't come far from the makeup black & white silent-movie stars were forced to endure?

I've never seen anyone in TV makeup, SD or HD, but the only image my mind can conjure up of TV people with no makeup at the moment is the anchors in the first Batman movie when everyone is scared to use ANY beauty products due to the Joker. Heh.
posted by pyrex at 12:32 PM on September 19, 2011


We just got a new HD LED TV and it's crazy sharp. At its default settings it is super obvious whenever they use green screens, which is basically all the time nowadays.
posted by emeiji at 1:15 PM on September 19, 2011


"People are now prejudiced against color pictures because they have seen bad ones"...Fascinating how every innovation encounters such resistance.

Especially when people see bad pictures...
posted by howfar at 1:17 PM on September 19, 2011


Fascinating how every innovation encounters such resistance.

I hope you're not insinuating that 3D is an innovation!
posted by fairmettle at 1:31 PM on September 19, 2011


Fascinating how every innovation encounters such resistance.

I hope you're not insinuating that 3D is an innovation!


And I hope you are not insinuating that those Star Wars Blu-Ray edits are an innovation!

Nooooooooooo!
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:08 PM on September 19, 2011


I still think it's a shame that silent pictures died.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:28 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's okay shakesperian, you're still big, it's the movies that got small.
posted by The Whelk at 2:52 PM on September 19, 2011


Aww, Mister DeMille. You always say the sweetest things when I'm floating dead in a swimming pool.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:58 PM on September 19, 2011


It's the least I can do for you and your monkey.
posted by The Whelk at 3:03 PM on September 19, 2011


I'm actually really curious about what HD makeup looks like in person. I've seen live (or almost live) TV personalities on set in full broadcast-ready makeup and it looks fucking weird when not viewed through a TV set - to the point of hideousness and ugliness. (Though TV personalities often look weird in person with or without makeup.)

You'd think it's just a bit of pancake/foundation to even the skin tone (guys or girls) but it's actually usually a bit more complicated than that. Even male hosts often have a really thick layer of foundation/pancake and then some definition work like eyelid highlights, cheek highlights and even sometimes a bit of mascara or eyeliner or something to make the eyes pop under the bright lights.


Oh hai, I just got back from a week of being smothered in the stuff.

It's pretty bad in person. It looks okay from a distance—I just look like I have a lot of makeup on—but at normal conversation distance, I look pretty terrifying. The foundation is flat matte and all one color, of course, with contour painted back on on top of it. HD makeup in skilled hands goes on very, very smooth, so the final effect is one of a Real Doll, or maybe of an airbrushed photo come to life.

And this is after I finally put my foot down about not smothering me in makeup.

Here's what I get when I sit down in the chair:

- a layer of moisturizer (I put this on so my pores don't totally drink up the makeup to come)
- concealer under my eyes
- a layer of HD primer. It contains silicone. It performs exactly the same function as paint primer—it fills in imperfections on the surface and creates a grippy surface for the makeup.
- a heavy layer of foundation
- eye contour
- eye shadow
- eyeliner
- mascara
- contouring shadow at the sides of my nose, under cheekbones, and at my jawline.
- highlighter at the bridge of my nose, my browbone, and cheekbones
- blush
- lip primer
- lip liner
- lip stick
- lip gloss
- powder throughout the day.

I am young, with smooth and evenly-toned skin, so that's HD makeup lite. Older skin gets more of everything on the face, as well as primer and foundation on neck, cleavage, and hands. Men get at least primer, foundation, and contour/highlights; they sometimes get eyeliner. I have known at least one man who had to have his bald head primed and foundation'ed.

And makeup on our show is just to have people looking like slightly polished versions of themselves on camera—we're not in the business of hiding age or correcting "problems". The amount of makeup we put on is absolutely ridiculous, but all it does is keep people from looking washed out and flattened under the lights; if we actually wanted someone to have a look, there'd be a lot more makeup involved.

It's very curious—people look flat and all-one-color under studio lights without makeup, so we paint them up to look more like they "should" look. The result is a kind of not-very-good simulacra of reality, but one we've all agreed is reasonable and believable. It's a convention, like Ancient Egyptians showing everyone in profile. Pretty weird.
posted by peachfuzz at 3:08 PM on September 19, 2011 [11 favorites]


Reminds me of the hilariously fabricated kerfluffle a bit back about how HD TVs will destroy careers because you will suddenly be staring into every actor's changepurse-sized pores and gruesome blemishes...

Now that I watch HD all the time, I have a game I like to play; it's called "spot the piercing". Because there are no end of pierced ears and noses on actors where you wouldn't expect them.

But that became too easy, and now the game is "Spot the piercing on the actor playing the character least likely to have one..." My favorite so far was some show that was supposed to take place in the 1950s or '60s, and the leading guy who was supposed to be a straight laced g-man type, had both ears pierced and the leading lady had a spot for a nose-ring.
posted by quin at 3:33 PM on September 19, 2011


Reminds me of the hilariously fabricated kerfluffle a bit back about how HD TVs will destroy careers because you will suddenly be staring into every actor's changepurse-sized pores and gruesome blemishes and everyone's face turn into a nightmare landscape of scars and withered wrinkles and split ends.

Indeed, FatherDagon. HD only doubles the resolution along each axis, roughly, which isn't a huge increase in view - in fact, it's 2x. But more to the point - it's not like faces are only observed on TV at a set minimum distance from the camera. Closeups of Edward James Olmos were commonplace in all the shows I've seen him in (to pick up on a snarky example made above), so it's not like I haven't seen his face in high resolution already onscreen.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:29 PM on September 19, 2011


I dunno, I for one still think talkies are just a passing fad...
posted by littlesq at 5:08 PM on September 19, 2011


Oh hai, I just got back from a week of being smothered in the stuff.

Thanks for the first-hand anecdote! That's intense, but sounds about like I was imagining and extrapolating from what I saw of pre-HD TV makeup.

And the makeup artists do a pretty good job. From, say, live audience distance it just looks like too much makeup. When you get within conversational distance it starts to look really freaky and heavy.

If it's been a while since someone's been touched up you can see where the primer/foundation layer is cracking around wrinkles or where it's been smudged off and flaws seem to actually be more exaggerated, but it's all about that matte finish absorbing massive quantities of studio lights and keeping the shine of natural skin down.

This, of course, explains why makeup artists are standing by between takes to buff the foundation back down between takes or commercial breaks. It's hot under the lights. People sweat and move or accidentally touch or scratch their face. You can't really put it on and expect it to stay put for hours on end.

So, yeah. All those pretty people on TV with their flawlessly even-toned skin and perfect tans? It's usually just makeup caked on with a putty knife. And those pretty people are usually actually pretty ridiculous and weird looking in person with or without the TV makeup.
posted by loquacious at 5:40 PM on September 19, 2011


Lemme just sidetrack the (extremely interesting) makeup simulacra talk by mentioning that that is a thoroughly sweet viewer interface archive.org's got going for it. Clean, big, readable, smooth navigation. And while on something the size of that magazine the search takes a while, it gives helpful little results snippets without taking you away from the page you're reading.

Now to steal it away for our library.
posted by roobot at 6:40 PM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I watch almost exclusively 30s and 40s movies, and I don't think it's a poorly placed concern. Iridic points out that stars then had facial structures that interacted really well with the silvers, grays, and inky shadows that black-and-white film cast. IT's not just a simple toggle to color that happened, it's a really complete change in the way cinematography was done - and it actually did end requiring a new stable of stars with different coloring, skin, and facial structures. The "bleached hair" to "straw wig" problem was a real one. Only a few stars made the transition easily.

It's funny how they tout the perfect naturalness of the new color processes as opposed to the old. I have kind of a soft spot for the late 40s/early 50s Technicolor/Panavision/Vistavision films like White Christmas, State Fair, and Summer Stock, and though the color is luscious and pleasantly candylike and hallucinatory, it's anything but natural.
posted by Miko at 8:41 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I watch almost exclusively 30s and 40s movies

I knew I liked you.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:17 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ha! I was just using this, and thinking "has it been mefied? darn I can't do it myself because these are my colleagues."

I'm right proud!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:54 PM on October 7, 2011


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