Color film of the Three Stooges from 1938

Hatrick sez, "Amazing color footage from 1938. The Three Stooges at the Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey. Film by George Mann of the comedy dance team, Barto and Mann. George Mann and his wife Barbara Bradford also appear in the film."

Three Stooges at Steel Pier, Atlantic City -- 1938



      1. Aren’t most or all of those search results colorized, not originally filmed in color? This page shows some live-action inserts they did for their cartoon in 1965, and says that “These inserts were some of the only Stooges material ever filmed in color”, so the 1938 footage in the boingboing post might be the earliest color footage.

  1. Gullible people are gullible. Aside from the color being WAY to good for period technology, and the clip not appearing on their filmography, the guy they have doing larry doesn’t look quite right. Oh yeah, that and the copyright at the end which contains an email address. 

      1. Why, colour itself had only been recently invented in 1936 and was limited to the aristocracy and the petroleum companies (who needed it for flame colours). It would not have been available to the entertainment industry.

    1. The email, and youtube channel, appear to belong to Brad Smith, the son of George Mann (his wikipedia page does mention a son named Brad). The video is also linked to from the George Mann archive website, which appears to be run by Smith’s wife. 

    1. What’s really trippy is that various color technologies existed from almost the beginning of cinema. All-color features actually pre-date by far the introduction of all-sound features

      It’s just that color remained prohibitively expensive and difficult for anything longer than a cartoon, right up to about this time (this footage is contemporaneous with Disney’s first few features, Gone With the Wind, Wizard of Oz, etc.). As mentioned above, the war then disrupted things a bit too. Color finally became the default for big-budget features in the 50s when it helped distinguish movies from that interloper the teevee.

      1. For anyone interested in early color film footage, I highly recommend the documentary Discovering Cinema which features lots of clips (and also includes a documentary on experiments with integrating sound into film). And for some nice examples of early color still photography, check out this article.

      1. The still from the video on this page.  It looks like he’s missing a hand.  As in, “I knew it was fake because Larry wasn’t missing his hand in real life”.

        I can’t be the only one who thought that it looked like his hand was missing…

        1. I think you are, because it’s Larry who looks like he might be missing a hand, and if you look a little bit to the left, you can see it’s attached to his forearm.

  2. Color film was available but when WW2 broke out the chemicals used in producing it were dedicated to the war effort.

    1. True, but this was the 1930’s, prior to the war.  The real hang-up in the USA in the 1930’s was money.  Technicolor process 4 cameras were big, bulky, rare and expensive to buy or rent then, because they were new technology (even though color had been around for about 50 years at that point.)  And they used 3x more film than black-and-white, of two different types, due to the cmyk process.  Plus all the downstream processing.  So, sure, chemical production and production in general were slower in the 1930’s, but money was in shorter supply and film houses could make back their buck on a B&W film just as well as a color one.  They didn’t view color as something that would generally reap them greater rewards until later on.  It was a slow adoption of color in film, just like a lot of technologies.  Think of high-def TV in the USA.  The tech existed for decades, but wasn’t turned into anything commercial because there was no incentive of reward for a long time.

  3. They do look a bit different without the sharper detail of the B&W film of the time. Plus, they’re really acting like creeps toward that woman. 

    1. Creepiness is part of their charm.  Ahoy!  Our whole culture is founded upon this principle and its corollaries!

  4. Man.

    A stooge should never be shirtless.

    But if one had to be, thank god it wasn’t one of the other two.

  5. To alleviate any lingering doubts, the film clip of The Three Stooges was shot in color in 1938 by my father George Mann.  Up for less than a year on YouTube with over 100,000 hits to generally favorable reviews.

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