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Mogambo cinematography

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Bob Cole
Mogambo cinematography
on Aug 13, 2009 at 7:22:55 pm

Just saw John Ford's "Mogambo" on TCM last night.

I wonder whether anyone knows the details of the cinematography. The colors in the dramatic scenes had a saturation and luminosity which were amazing. The also-impressive wildlife shots didn't have quite the same glow.

Most impressive. Sort of like Kodachrome as opposed to Ektachrome.

Bob C


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Todd Terry
Re: Mogambo cinematography
on Aug 13, 2009 at 9:08:24 pm

From your description I'm willing to bet that was Technicolor... the old-style three-strip kind.

The three-strip technicolor films just looked fantastic... they hold up 100% today since there was no dye in the film to fade (as the three strips were B/W film, obviously). Almost sad that Technicolor had to move aside for newer technology... but one can understand it. The process was complicated, finicky, and the cameras were practically like moving a piano around.

Stuff looks great, though. The Wizard of Oz, for example, looks just as vibrant today as it did 70 years ago.


T2

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Bob Cole
Re: Mogambo cinematography
on Aug 13, 2009 at 10:14:53 pm

True. It was filmed in Technicolor (by Robert Surtees). But it isn't just that the colors are Wizard-of-Oz bright; I almost suspect that a fog filter was used, because they bleed out in a very soft and pleasing way.

Bob C


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Dan Brockett
Re: Mogambo cinematography
on Aug 18, 2009 at 10:45:53 pm

Keep in mind that the reason that the Wizard of Oz looks as vibrant and as great as it does today is because Warners spent a LOT of time, effort and money restoring the prints and doing a 4k scan and transfer of the remaining composite elements. I can't recall if the original three strip negs were still around but I suspect not.

I produced the Wizard of Oz three disc collector DVD set for Warners in 2005 and we included a very nicely done mini doc on the entire restoration process, with interviews with all of the restoration staff and the whole DNR process. It was pretty cool, when they released the box set, they also had an invitation only screening at the DGA Theater of a newly restored print. Oz never looked better, you aren't even really seeing the true colors on any form of video, you have to see it projected to really see what audiences saw in 1939. The colors might look better on Blu Ray when that is available.

Coincidentally, I also produced the John Ford box DVD set for Warners although it did not contain Mogambo. Mogambo was shot in 1952-53 and was shot in Technicolor. Most of the films made toward the end of Ford's career were still Technicolor up until the VistaVision used for Cheyenne Autumn and yes, I am with you, I really miss three strip Technicolor, that looks has never even been closely mimicked in the digital realm.

Dan

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