Saturday, November 1, 2008

The first Swedish feature film in color!

Tomorrow will be grand! A newly restored print of the first Swedish feature film in color will be shown at the Swedish Film Institute as a part of the National Film Archives celebrating its 75 years. Yours truly will naturally attend this special occasion. The film, "Klockorna I Gamla Stan" (The Bells In Old Town) was shot here in Stockholm during the summer of 1946. The color system used was Cinecolor. 1946 is extremely late for a first color film, and in a two color process on top of that is almost pathetic.

The first all color full length feature was The Toll Of The Sea starring Anna May Wong, made in 1922. The first all color talkie was On With The Show which opened in february 1929. Swedish filmmakers took to sound quite quickly and the first all talking, Swedish made moving picture opened in august 1930. But color was apparently not interesting enough for us so it had to wait until 1946. Well, Klockorna I Gamla Stan is by no means a fancy film apart from an American cinematographer, James B. Shackelford who was flown in for the occation. It starrs Edvard Persson, one of Sweden's biggest stars who's carreer started its decline with this film. Persson was a jovial comic actor and singer who had been making movies since the 20's. By 1946 the Swedish movie-goers wanted newer faces and Persson approaching 60 was considered passé.

Cinecolor was an inexpensive two-color system derived from the Multicolor process used mainly for B-movies in the US. The result was apparently quite dissatifying according to period reviews. One of the critics spoke about skin tones that resembled "well fried porridge". So I guess that the Swedish audience was allready familiar with the full glory of Technicolor at this time. The story isn't that interesting either. But a first is a first.

The Theme song is quite nice though. It has a certain Italian flavor to it and Persson was indeed a great singer even though he had passed his prime. Enjoy!


moviepas said...

Is Klockorna i Gamal Stan on DVD or going to be or is there a program of Swedish pre-1950 films on DVD at this time? Thank You

Jonas Nordin said...

Hi Iris,
No, Klockorna I Gamla Stan is not on DVD. I don't think it has ever been avaliable on the consumer market.
Sweden is a very poor country when it comes to domestic classic film availability. The Swedish movie distributors always state that the Swedish market is too small and that the public interest in classic Swedish films is nonexistent.

moviepas said...

Thank you. Much to the pity. A few subtitles in English etc and these films might have a moderate sale outside Sweden.

Scott Lord on Silent Film, Scott Lord on Mystery Film said...

Thank you very much

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