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Natalie Kalmus

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Uncle Stevie
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Natalie Kalmus

Postby Uncle Stevie » June 12th, 2013, 10:22 pm

I was curious about Natalie Kalmus who's name appears in the credits of almost every color film. This is what I came up with and it is a critical but revealing story

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Natalie Kalmus (née Dunfee or Dunphy) (April 7, 1882, Houlton, Maine – November 15, 1965, Boston, Massachusetts),[1] was credited as the "color supervisor" of virtually all Technicolor features made from 1934 to 1949. She was the wife of Technicolor founder Herbert T. Kalmus from July 23, 1902 to June 22, 1922, although they continued to live together until 1944.[2]

Originally a catalog model, then an art student, Kalmus made sure that costumes, sets and lighting were adjusted for the camera's sensitivities. She was generally regarded as a nuisance, but her services were contractually part of Technicolor's services. In her attempts to keep colors from being rendered improperly onscreen, she was accused of going to the other extreme of mildness. She wrote: "A super-abundance of color is unnatural, and has a most unpleasant effect not only upon the eye itself, but upon the mind as well." She recommended "the judicious use of neutrals" as a "foil for color" in order to lend "power and interest to the touches of color in a scene."[3] Producer David O. Selznick complained in a memo during the making of Gone with the Wind:

“ [The] technicolor experts have been up to their old tricks of putting all sorts of obstacles in the way of real beauty. . . . We should have learned by now to take with a pound of salt much of what is said to us by the technicolor experts. . . . I have tried for three years now to hammer into this organization that the technicolor experts are for the purpose of guiding us technically on the [film] stock and not for the purpose of dominating the creative side of our pictures as to sets, costumes, or anything else. . . . If we are not going to go in for lovely combinations of set and costume and really take advantage of the full variety of colors available to us, we might just as well have made the picture in black and white. It would be a sad thing indeed if a great artist had all violent colors taken off his palette for fear that he would use them so clashingly as to make a beautiful painting impossible.[4] ”

Director Vincente Minnelli recalled of making Meet Me in St. Louis, "My juxtaposition of color had been highly praised on the stage, but I couldn't do anything right in Mrs. Kalmus's eyes."[5] Director Allan Dwan was more blunt: "Natalie Kalmus was a b****."[6]

Her association with Technicolor was severed in 1948 when she named the corporation as a co-defendant in an alimony suit against Herbert Kalmus, when it appeared he was about to remarry. She sued unsuccessfully for separate maintenance and half his assets of Technicolor, Inc.[7] In 1950 she licensed her name for a line of designer television cabinets made by a California manufacturer.[8][9][10] Her personal papers are now in the Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Uncle Stevie

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Natalie Kalmus

Postby Rita Hayworth » June 13th, 2013, 5:25 am

Thanks for sharing this interesting piece of article Uncle Stevie!

I enjoyed reading it.


Re: Natalie Kalmus

Postby feaito » June 13th, 2013, 11:46 am

Good post Uncle Stevie. I recommend to you the very good documentary titled "Glorious Technicolor" (1998), featured in the two disc special edition of Errol Flynn's "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938) (on the Blu Ray release as well), in which it is explained at length how Natalie Kalmus became the chief color consultant of Technicolor and why her name had to be in all the credits of Technicolor pictures until.... 1948?

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