Archive for the ‘Pictorial Palettes’ category

Pictorial Palette: Natalie Wood

Long overdue doesn’t even begin to explain just how LONG long has been since our last Pictorial Palette. So long, in fact, I feel it requires a re-introduction is necessary to any who might be new to the Pictorial. From the Pictorial Palette’s inaugural post in 2010:

Henri Matisse once said, “With color one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft.”

That being the case, I do not hesitate to say that movie color is without doubt some of the beautiful magic ever conjured. And given its proven abilities to brighten even the grayest of days, the Pictorial is implementing a weekly color palette, sampled off a film (or production) still from Hollywood’s Golden Age. One of the Pictorial’s missions is to always try and look at the world through Technicolor glasses–yes, even a world as problematic as ours– and it is our hope  that these little swaths of color will provide a needed burst of energy– perhaps even inspire a smidge of creativity–to infuse and rejuvenate the weekly drudge.”
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Pictorial Palette: Lucy

Lucille Ball in "DuBarry Was a Lady" (1943)

The DuBarry Palette: #FF1B3A, #73B70C, #53B4DF, #FFB72F

Gosh. Isn’t she lovely?

Our Pictorial Palette of the week is inspired by this delightfully whimsical piece of poster art from the 1943 film adaptation of Cole Porter’s DuBarry Was a Lady starring Red Skelton, Gene Kelly, and the woman of the hour: Lucille Ball.

Lucy’s centennial is tomorrow, something made even sweeter by the fact that 2011 also marks the 60th Anniversary of I Love Lucy, and celebrations are in full swing– both online and off, all over the globe. Proving, in a collective laughing voice, that the world will always love Lucy.

Because of Lucy, our fractured world has the rare, precious gift of a unified, collective memory. Laughter blurs the edges of race, class and creed, which make Lucy so much more than an actress-comedienne-pioneer-entrepreneur. She is an emotional thread in the fabric of who we are as a society. Which is why it is hardly surprising that the tributes to her are dizzying in their number.

Tune into Turner Classic Movies for a full ay of laughs with Lucy, in conjunction with their ever-popular “Summer Under the Stars” program, and the Hallmark Channel will host a 48-hour I Love Lucy marathon. (And yes, the Europe and Hollywood episodes will be heavily featured!) The web is awash with henna all weekend in celebration of everyone’s favorite not-so-natural redhead: True Classics is hosting a Lucille Ball Blogathon (of which we are proud participants) and tributes abound. Among them, a must-see is’s special gallery of never-before-published photos of the immortal comedienne. And meanwhile, back on terra firma, CBS Video has released 14 classic I Love Lucy episodes; the Warner Archive has released several of Lucy’s lesser known film comedies; the Hollywood Museum has opened a special exhibit , “Lucille Ball at 100 and I Love Lucy at 60,” which honors the Queen of Comedy with memorabilia from I Love Lucy all the way to  Here’s Lucy; and the Library of Congress presents “I Love Lucy: An American Legend” which explores the show’s history through the  family scrapbooks, photographs, scripts, and other documents from the Library of Congress.

All of this rather gives credence to a quote by Diane Sawyer that I’ve never forgotten: “It may be that during business hours, God and the angels sit around watching six hour documentaries. But in the back family room? They’re watching I Love Lucy.”

Pictorial Palette: Gene Tierney

The Beautiful Gene Tierney … beautiful is not a strong enough word!

When it comes to Technicolor, there are some names that are inextricably linked with that definitive Classic Hollywood process. Marilyn Monroe and her flaming pink Niagara dress? Vivien Leigh and her crimson negligee in Gone With the Wind? Classic. But while most people equate Gene Tierney with the sultry, smoky, definitively film noir shadows of black and white cinema, for me her ethereal beauty was simply made for Technicolor. Tierney’s extraordinary beauty is a matter of record. That stunning Laura portrait of her is matched only by the flesh itself– and bested in her subsequent color films. Leave Her to Heaven, with Leon Shamroy’s decadent cinematography, is her most famous color film. But even in her frivolous forays, like On the Riviera with Danny Kaye, the Technicolor Tierney is impossibly perfect.

This shot, fresh and carefree, is my personal favorite photo of Tierney. Young and energetic, she was still some time yet from those dark demons that would come to possess her.  The tragedy of her daughter’s birth was years off, and her internal personal battle, although prevalent, was not yet consuming.

I love the hope and life and genuine spark of this week’s Pictorial palette– and hope that Gene, a beautiful woman inside and out, enjoyed more of these joyful moments than her legend suggests.

the palette: #4E3CB6; #D92F4C; #F9ECE4; #271F5A

Pictorial Palette: Edward Hopper’s New York Movie

“New York Movie” by Edward Hopper, 1939

I have been remiss with my Pictorial Palettes as of late– infuriatingly so, because I truly do love these romantic indulgences of conjecture and color. So I am reinstating the tradition with Edward Hopper’s 1939 piece “”New York Movie.” A departure from our previous palettes, which were full color photo portraits or film stills, this is a celebrated piece of art from one of America’s foremost modern artists.

Edward Hopper’s realistic visualizations of early/mid 20th century America– from “Automat” to “Compartment C” to his seminal “Nighthawks”– are candid, rarely pretty, always pensive and often melancholy. The ominous, dark reality of the brightly lit American Dream, Hopper’s paintings (for me, anyway) are to American art what Charles Bukowski was to American literature and David Lynch is to American film.

“Automat” (1927); “Compartment C” (1938); “Nighthawks” (1942)

Hopper began his career as a rather reluctant  illustrator and, as a freelancer, even designed movie posters. He was an avid movie-goer, and as “New York Movie” shows, was intimately familiar with them. The National Gallery of Art made the observance of this particularly mysterious piece that the movie itself is not the focus here– indeed the image itself is undecipherable– but rather the focus is on the mood and atmosphere of the theater. And, of course, Hopper’s thoughtful usherette. Her interest in the film has, visibly, long since waned and the realities of her own life eat at her there under Hopper’s dim orange glow. Hers is a beautiful, stately silhouette, one you can easily envision draped in a satin gown by Orry-Kelly in an MGM melodrama.

Offset by the ornate movie palace decor of the period, Hopper succeeds in effectively conjuring a figure of  loneliness and melancholy. As Gardner’s Art Through the Ages points out, “motion is stopped and time suspended, as if the artist recorded the major details of a personal memory… [Hopper produced] paintings of overwhelming loneliness and echoing isolation of modern life in the United States.” In “New York Movie,” the movies are still a means of escape to the Depression-era moviegoers in the audience, but for Hopper’s usherette the smoke and mirrors have dissipated and all that’s left is the cold reality waiting outside.

hexes: #4E1120; #A91B17; #083964; #FBB426

Pictorial Palette of the Week – Brando


What can I say, sometimes a gal just needs a little Marlon. Or… alot. And since it’s been awhile since I’ve had either serving of Brando I am therefore only too pleased to pick him for this week’s Pictorial palette.

I went with the easy choice, a still from the Technicolor extravaganza Guys and Dolls, but opted for a more … moody palette. Something smidge more suitable to the brashly brusque brilliance of Brando. (Alliteration foul, yes I know. Deal with it.)

Jean Simmons is a helluva lucky gal.


Jean Simmons & Brando in “Guys and Dolls”

The palette: