Colourised Colman

Yes, Ronald Colman is still on my mind and now and again I return to my little quest to find more colour images of him (like here and here) as there just aren’t enough colour images of the man out there. He was magnetic in black and white and I have this theory that he must have been even more mesmerizing in colour.

He only did two films in colour and had a very brief appearance in colour in the third. In 1944’s Kismet he was covered in lots of make-up and turbans so, in essence, hidden, until the end when he is dressed in black and his salt and pepper hair looks a little tousled. He looks devastatingly handsome in colour there. I wish he had looked like that throughout the whole movie (without the beard)…

In his little guest appearance in 1956’s Around the World in Eighty Days, his brown eyes shone nicely in the sun but he was a little hidden, dressed in a white uniform with pith helmet, and his appearance was ever so brief in a blink or you’ll miss it scene.

In his final movie from 1957, The Story of Mankind, he was also already older. The version I have is a little grainy and you rarely see him close up.

So, there are a few (moving) images in colour of an older Ronald but there are no (moving) images of him in colour as a younger man as far as I have been able to find. I can’t do anything about that but it occured to me that maybe I could do something about seeing more colour photographs of him.

I found this website where you can colourise black and white photos online and I’ve been throwing a whole bunch of images into the ‘colouriser’. Lots of the pictures don’t turn out quite right but some do come out with nice results and I want to share my favourites here. I don’t know Photoshop, so haven’t been able to enhance these myself, they come pretty much as is from the colouriser.

I’ll start with my absolute favourite colourised photo result, which really shows Ronnie’s warm brown eyes so beautifully! He had quite large eyes too, it must have been difficult to not lose yourself in them while meeting the man in person. Click on the image yourself to enlarge it and see what I mean. I think this is early 1940s Ronnie.

There is also a nice result from an end 1920s/early 1930s picture…

That photo must have been taken around the time he made Condemned (1929) with Ann Harding and Arrowsmith (1931) with Helen Hayes, from which I also now have two quite nice colourised pictures.

There are two pictures with female co-stars where especially the co-stars come out really nicely in colour. The eyes of Kay Francis in Raffles (1930) and Loretta Young in Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back (1934) are quite stunning in these.

I also like how these images with Signe Hasso in A Double Life (1947), Ginger Rogers in Lucky Partners (1940), Jane Wyatt in Lost Horizon (1937) and Greer Garson in Random Harvest (1942) came out…

He looks his absolute sexiest with a bit of ruffled hair, as in A Tale of Two Cities (1935). The colouring quality isn’t great but the magnetism cannot be denied…

Also, another one from A Tale of Two Cities. Yes, Isabel Jewell is too yellow in the face but boy, Ronnie sure is in control of that white shirt open at the neck and sexy body language look. And two more ruffled hair pictures: one from The Talk of the Town (1942) and the other from Under Two Flags (1937).

I find that colourising from studio photographs works better than colourising from screenshots I took from the movies. Here are two more from A Tale of Two Cities, the second one also featuring actress Elizabeth Allen. Ronald Colman was very attached to his moustache and was hesitant shaving it off for Two Cities but I do think it’s one of his best looks.

This slightly ruffled Random Harvest look isn’t half bad either in colour (don’t mind his ear on the left of this picture, which is very off-colour). His brown eyes come out nicely in this one as well.

I am quite taken by this one of Ronald Colman in A Double Life – I love him with glasses!

I also really like two colourized shots from the mid 1920s with his frequent co-star Vilma Banky. The first one is from their final silent movie together, The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926) and I suspect the second one was taken on that set as well.

There’s a nice one from the end 1940s with his wife Benita Hume, when they did radio together (even though the blue hand that looks like it could fall off his arm any minute)…

I also really like these two behind the scenes shots, from A Tale of Two Cities and Random Harvest. I presume he’s not really wearing one brown and one blue sock in Random Harvest, it’s probably a colouring mistake, but I do like to imagine that he wore mismatched socks.

And I really love these candid ones from Ronnie in his garden, from the beginning 1930s and beginning 1940s, I believe. He sure looked good in blue.

Judging from these pictures alone it must have been quite something meeting him in real life full colour. In a 1926 Photoplay interview (during the silent film era when he had only been famous for two years) this is confirmed:

“He gives you the feeling that, for all his reserve, you are one of the people capable of getting under it. He conveys that impression at the very moment of meeting. It’s a beautiful trick. When you are introduced his first glance meets yours quite politely, but casually. An instant later his eyes flash interest, a deep interest in you whom he has just seen that moment. It’s enough to make any woman glow like a red-hot stove. Of course it may be due to his being a marvellous actor. Every woman in his life must have felt that she, out of all the world, was closest to him. And afterward she must have known that she didn’t know him at all. He makes you feel that he could be the most charming person in the world, the most wonderful companion, the most ardent lover. These things are in the depths of his cynical and amused eyes, in the well-bred tones of his fine voice, in his flattering attention to your silliest words.” (Source)

I wish I could have caught a glimpse like that of the real Ronald Colman in colour for myself. Alas, that does not seem to be in the cards as Ronald was very publicity shy, he rarely gave interviews and there seem to be no video interviews (more than snippets in news reels) either. There is more to be found of publicity shy actors nowadays (*cough* Richard Armitage) than of publicity shy actors from the 1920s – 1940s…

More Colman in colour & another treasure

OK, just one more Ronald Colman post (it’s been sitting in my drafts for a few weeks) and then I’ll shut up (for now). In an earlier post I was wishing for more Ronald Colman in colour as he seems to mostly be immortalized in black and white. I’ve been collecting images over the past few weeks and found some interesting things.

The most exciting bit is a very short promotional film in two-tone technicolour from 1929(!!) where he introduces the then-governor of California. They promote talking pictures, which was still a new phenomenon at the time. Alas only the governor gets a close-up, a pity they didn’t give Ronnie the same treatment! I would have loved to see his expessions better and his brown eyes properly.

There’s also a 1952 colour clip of Ronald Colman presenting the Best Actress Oscar with a funny little intro with Danny Kaye as well. I love how unfazed he is by Danny Kaye and plays along. And I just love Danny Kaye too, he was a great comic. In this clip Greer Garson accepts the Oscar on Vivien Leigh’s behalf and even gives Ronnie a little kiss, which gives me lovely Random Harvest vibes.

Apart from those two clips, I also found a few late in life pictures of Ronnie in colour. The first picture includes his wife, Benita; the last one includes Zsa Zsa Gabor.

I found a few colour images for a TV show called The Halls of Ivy that he did with Benita (after their radio show of the same name had been a success). However, these do look like they could originally have been black and white as well.

The radio shows are available on YouTube but I wish I could somehow get my hands on the TV show. So far, except for one episode, no such luck.

I also found a cool all-star picture that seems to have been coloured in from an original black and white image (I’ve seen mostly black and white versions of this). This is apparently a radio broadcast at NBC in 1939 by the ‘English colony’ of actors in Hollywood on occasion of the visit of the English King and Queen to the US.

From left to right: Greer Garson, Leslie Howard, smoking in the background is George Sanders (tidbit: he married Benita after Ronnie died), Vivien Leigh, Brian Aherne, Ronald Colman and Basil Rathbone.

Except for a large amount of coloured in movie posters and stills (there are more than I share here, but this is to give an idea) there really isn’t that much Colman in colour that I can find…

And last but not least, as I was searching for the Colman in colour pictures, I also came across this one about a month ago…

Yes, another book. It’s from Ronald’s Oscar winning performance and I just couldn’t resist. I almost paid more in shipping and customs fees than I paid for the book but still it was quite affordable. Worth it too, as I also imagine it’s quite a rare one. The book arrived today to my great joy! It tells the story of the film in prose form and inside there are also black and white images from the movie. I’m not including all images here as some of them are real story spoilers. I know these aren’t in colour but I couldn’t resist sharing my new little treasure here as well.

And while I’m off the original topic anyhow: I also made another Ronald Colman video that I put up on YouTube a few days ago. It’s all about the love in his and his leading ladies’ eyes…

For the coming weeks there will be very little Ronnie to focus on: I’m going on a holiday! It only came up a few weeks ago and we very impulsively just went ahead and booked. Mr Esther, Junior and I will be flying to Israel this Saturday, along with my younger brother and a distant cousin. We’re heading to the wedding of another cousin’s son and then adding on some extra time before and after. Last time I was in Israel was 9 years ago, I’m so excited to be going back to my childhood home again.

Anyway, anything more Ronnie related will have to wait until I get back. I still need to find that ultimate Ronald Colman colour picture because I so want to see what his eyes really looked like and how deeply brown they actually were. His role in Kismet gives me a little bit of an idea…

… but the images are not clear enough.

Silent film comedy Ronnie

The other night I watched Ronald Colman’s 1925 silent movie Her Sister From Paris and these little moments happened…

Especially that second gif cracks me up completely! I think it may be my fave (Colman) gif ever.

It was a fun movie, co-starring Constance Talmadge, an actress I had never heard of before but who seems have to been a top star in the silent movies, famous for her comedies. Short synopsis: A housewife (Constance Talmadge) poses as her twin sister, a notorious dancer, in order to fool her husband (Ronald Colman) and teach him a lesson.

That last hair tousling gif from the movie is quite irresistible too. Ronnie really had very good hair! Here’s another hair tousling gif, from the 1936 (talking) movie Under Two Flags, co-starring Claudette Colbert (I like that little thing she does with the sand, so added that gif here as well)…

Anyway, back to Constance Taldmadge. Ronald made two movies with her. I saw the 1924 movie Her Night of Romance a few weeks ago and it really cracked me up. It’s about an heiress who travels to England disguised as a frump in order to ward off fortune-hunting men. Ronald Colman is a penniless Lord who falls in love with her and then impersonates a physician to get more closely acquainted. There are lots of misunderstandings and attempted cover-ups to hide lies and when attempts are made to make things right, everything gets even worse. There’s this whole section in the film where our hero and heroine tell one person they are married to cover up a compromising situation, then must at the same time hide their ‘marriage’ from the heiress’s dad. A lie is not so easily contained and in the end a whole village shows up to congratulate them. Ridiculous and funny!

All of it is of course quite fanciful and pretty contrived but really so much fun.

I also watched Kiki from 1926 with Constance’s real life older sister Norma as the star. Norma Talmadge was more of a dramatic actress and only made very few comedies but she did do this one with Ronnie. Synopsis: Kiki (Norma Talmadge), a poor young woman who sells newspapers on the street corners of Paris, is able to land a job singing and dancing at a nearby theater. While she is there, she invites herself into the life of the revue’s manager Victor (Ronald Colman), with whom she has fallen in love.

This movie too is quite a lot of fun. Kiki worms her way into the chorus, which is a bit of a disaster…

And at the end, in order to stretch time and to not have to leave Victor, she feigns a sudden onset of catalepsy…

This one’s a fun movie too, although my fave of these three is Her Night of Romance (despite it being the most convoluted one). A cool thing about these movies is that it’s mostly the women propelling the action. 1920s women sure were sassy, in a very good way. There is a down side to these silent films too, though: you can’t hear Ronald’s gorgeous voice…

(P.S. Should you care to watch any of these movies yourself, they are all availabe on Youtube for free.)

The banjo, whistling and ‘my sweet’

It’s been two months since I first watched Ronald Colman in Random Harvest and a new crush started. How can I still be this obsessed with him? And yet, I am.

For my birthday almost two weeks ago, my daughter ordered a Ronald Colman print off Ebay for me, which has now found it’s way onto my movie desk (top left image)…

And as I delve on into Ronnie I find more details that I overlooked in that first thirst for information but now have space in my head to absorb.

To begin with, he apparently was an accomplished banjo player. He learned it at age 16 after his father died. His daughter Juliet mentions it in the biography she wrote about him, on page 19: “To add some colorful contrast, he joined the Bancroft Amateur Dramatic Society, where they acted Wilde, sang the English drinking songs, learned Gilbert and Sullivan and how to play the banjo.”

He himself jokingly mentions playing the banjo in that epsiode about his Oscar on the Jack Benny radio show, about two minutes and 20 seconds into this video. I also found some images of Ronald Colman with banjo in the 1920s on a movie set. The image on the right is apparently a still from the movie The Magic Flame.

Juliet Colman says on page 85 of the biography: “Vilma [Banky] and Ronnie were next teamed in The Magic Flame, which provided him with his first of several dual roles. This one was a costume drama set in a mythical kingdom in which he played a circus clown and a villainous count. He introduced the idea of the clown playing a banjo being an old virtuoso from his amateur theatrical days, and serenaded the astonished company with his repertoire.

Alas this movie seems to be lost so we can never actually see and hear him in action playing that instrument. My fave image of Ronald with banjo is this next one. He’s so relaxed, with tousled hair, that cigarette hanging at the corner of his mouth and his fingers look like they are apparently playing something.

The shirt he wears here makes me think this was taken on another set, from The Winning of Barbara Worth, the only movie he made with Vilma Banky that still survives.

Speaking of Vilma Banky, I adore this image of the two of them, which looks like a candid on set shot from Barbara Worth (they made 5 movies together and she retired from acting pretty much when the talkies came along)…

Back to the banjo: I wonder if Ronald would also sing along with his banjo? He had such a lovely voice, I wonder if that also meant he could hold a tune well and whether he had a decent singing voice. He does seem to have been a whistler, as I read in an interview with his daughter from 1975 (source: Beaver County Times, aug, 29th, 1975), 17 years after Ronald passed away:

“When Juliet’s mother, actress Benita Hume, who died in 1967, broke the news that Colman was gone, Juliet fled to her room in frozen shock. ‘I was too sad to cry’
Ever since she could remember Ronald Colman had used a language of ‘whistles’ to communicate with his wife and daughter if he were in one wing of the house and they in another. Juliet and her mother were adept at returning ‘warbling messages’. It was an esoteric game the three Colmans relished.
‘That night I thought I heard Daddy whistling to me,’ says Juliet. ‘Sometimes I still hear him.’

The whistles I have encountered in some of his films indicate he is indeed adept at it and that he has a musicality.

Hearing him whistle like that makes me think of his daughter now.

Another little detail I noticed is that he liked to use the endearment ‘my sweet’ in several of his movies. He used other endearments like my darling, my love, my dear as well but someow, starting with Arrowsmith from 1931, he liked to use ‘my sweet’ in a few more movies as well. I loved him say it over and over again to Leora (Helen Hayes) in Arrowsmith. It’s not an endearment I hear a lot in movies, if ever, and it struck me that it may be a term he injected into his movies himself. Here’s a little ‘my sweet’ compilation…

The final clips are from a 1953 TV special he did. The ‘my sweet’ in that seems a little forced and not as sincere (which fits the role) as my favourite ‘sweets’ from Arrowsmith. Now every time I hear that word I hear it echo in Colman’s voice in my head and then I add mentally, “Ah, Leora, sweet!”

Sorry I’ve become so monotonous on here with all this Colman stuff but I can’t seem to help myself. And to make it worse for you, dear readers, I don’t think I’m quite done yet…

Lazy Sunday and Colman in colour

Mr E and mini me were out and about somewhere this afternoon, sitting in the sun at a cafe, sipping ice tea and eating calamari.

Junior played handball today, injured his leg and was resting on the couch, surrounded by cats…

As for me, I was holed up in my room until the end of the afternoon while awaiting the results of my Corona test that I took this morning. Turns out it’s negative and all I have is a bad cold. Such a relief! Now I don’t have to worry about Mr Esther (who has asthma) getting Covid from me.

While lazing away in my bed this Sunday afternoon, I re-watched a little Bridgerton season 2, which I have really enjoyed. Looking at Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) and his lush brown hair and beautiful brown eyes (I LOVE brown eyes) made me think of Ronald Colman (yes, I know, yet again, he’s never far from my thoughts these days…) and I wished so badly that there would be more Ronald Colman in colour pictures and films out there. He had brown eyes and lush brown hair too, although I have never actually seen him with lush brown hair in colour.

Ronald Colman seems to exist almost only in black and white. The few glimpses of him in colour, from late in his career when he was in his fifties and sixties, are already fascinating, but not really clear enough. He only made three colour films and even candids of him are all black and white.

I took some screenshots from his first colour movie, Kismet from 1944, when he was 53 but the quality isn’t great and there’s so much make up messing with the Colman look. However, it is the first glimpse in colour of his warm brown eyes. For most of the movie I don’t really like his look but Colman in that black outfit, salt and pepper hair and with those warm deeply brown eyes is quite something. He should’ve looked like that throughout the whole movie and not just at the end.

His warm brown eyes are also seen in his last two films that he filmed in his mid sixties. His final film from 1957 was called The Story of Mankind (a bit of a weird one where he advocates against the devil at a tribunal to keep humanity alive) and shows some of his brown eyes, but never quite close-up enough…

The sun does shine nicely into his brown eyes in a cameo in the 1956 David Niven version of Around the World in 80 Days but he’s very much in costume there and the moments we see him are over all too soon.

I have searched for other Colman in colour images but there just isn’t much out there. There’s one with his wife Benita, also from the early 1950s, I think.

But mostly I only find colourized pictures of old black and white photos.

Especially the first two photos give a bit of an idea of how heart-stoppingly handsome and charismatic he must have looked in real life / colour. The dark hair and warm brown eyes certainly contributed to that. I wish he’d been able to do far more in colour. A girl can dream on a lazy Sunday afternoon and evening…