August 19th, 2008

carole lombard 02
  • vp19

Adding a dimension to 'Godfrey'

If you were around in the late 1980s, you probably recall the controversy concerning colorization of vintage films, a process that began in 1985 with a new version of "Topper"; one of its stars, Cary Grant (who would pass away the following year), was supposedly impressed by the process. Others from the classic era were not so supportive, especially since the first generation of colorized films had an array of technical problems.

At least two of Carole Lombard's films have undergone colorization -- "Made For Each Other," which was shown as part of a package of colorized classic movies sold to television stations (I don't believe a colorized version ever made it to home video), and another film in the public domain, "My Man Godfrey." (The photo above is from a 2005 colorized "Godfrey" made under more up-to-date techniques that are far better than what could be done in the '80s; it's on a budget DVD that also includes a fairly crisp black-and-white version.) The market for colorized films is far less than it was two decades ago, but some are still made.

Distributors of older films are always seeking ways of bringing them to current audiences, and just as they tried colorization in the late '80s, now they are trying something new. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...

..."My Man Godfrey" in 3-D!

Say what?

I kid you not, as the late Jack Paar would have said. Currently on auction at eBay is a DVD of "My Man Godfrey." According to the seller, "This is a movie in the public domain. We have obtained the best quality print we could find and remastered it in the 3D format. We took this remastered version and present it here for your viewing pleasure." The seller also notes, "The dvd contains the movie in both 2d and 3d versions. The 3d version is in field sequential format and requires shutter glasses for viewing (glasses are not included in the auction)."

The process itself apparently is on the level. Supposedly the technology is now available to retrofit two-dimensional films in 3-D. George Lucas reportedly wants to reprocess all his films in the "Star Wars" series in that process; the same may be true for James Cameron's "Titanic."

But those are big-budget films where special effects are paramount (though neither "Star Wars" nor "Titanic" was made at Paramount, pardon the pun). "Godfrey" is not in that category; about the only thing from the film that might demonstrably improve in 3-D would be those eye-catching opening credits, perhaps the best ever made in the pre-Saul Bass era.

Of course, if 3-D had existed in 1936, perhaps the producers would have hired a more, er, multi-dimensional actress than Lombard to play Irene (think Marie Wilson, folks). Or they might have ordered Carole to wear falsies (the "bullet bra" Mamie Van Doren made famous wouldn't be around for another two decades).

So it's possible that "Godfrey" is the first film from the pre-3-D era (before 1953 and the original "House Of Wax") to be retrofitted into the 3-D process -- I haven't heard of any others. Is that an honor, or what? Right now, not having seen what 3-D could do for "Godfrey" (and fearing it might be doing to instead), I lean towards the latter.

If you'd like to find out for yourself, go to Bidding starts at $4.99 (and lasts through Friday; there are currently no bids), or you can "buy it now" for $9.99.

Just make sure you have those glasses.
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