15 Stunning Films to See in MoMA’s ‘Glorious Technicolor’ Series

In honor of Technicolor’s 100th anniversary, this weekend MoMA begins the impressive series, Glorious Technicolor: From George Eastman House and Beyond. Centering on American films made between 1922 and 1955, the extensive MoMA Glorious Technicolor series boasts over 60 films and features some of the most beloved and iconic movies of the past century. But what’s even more rare and wonderful: all films will be shown in their full glory on celluloid. From “rare 35mm dye-transfer prints of The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, and Singin’ in the Rain” to “delirious range of musicals, melodramas, swashbuckling and seafaring adventures, sword-and-sandal Biblical epics, Orientalist fantasies, Westerns, literary adaptations, homespun Americana, and even rare instances of film noir and 3-D,” there’s an overwhelming amount of incredible films to see in the series, which runs through August 4. So to help you decide what to see in the coming weeks, here are the 15 films we’re most looking for to. Read more about MoMA Glorious Technicolor HERE and get your tickets today.

Victor Flemming’s THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)

The Wizard of Oz is cinema’s ultimate escapist fantasy (“What can one say about a girl who trips on a yellow brick road?,” film historian Vito Russo once quipped). By the late 1930s, Technicolor’s advanced three-strip process made deep color saturation possible in a wider range of hues, and The Wizard of Oz is widely remembered, and cherished, for this dazzling rainbow palette (audiences looking for a way out of Kansas will still get chills at the film’s momentous transition from Dust Bowl sepia). But in truth, the film’s original release prints were less garish; under the supervision of Technicolor consultant Henri Jaffa, Baum’s Oz was rendered in dreamy shades of yellow, green, and red, most especially with Dorothy’s ruby slippers and the tantalizingly jewel-like Emerald City. 35mm print from George Eastman House; courtesy Warner Bros.

Screening on June 5 and 14th

Henry Hathaway’s NIAGARA (1953)

A publicity still for Hathaway’s atmospheric and chromatically charged noir served as the inspiration for one of the most famous images in 20th-century art: Andy Warhol’s Marilyn. Set against the roaring backdrop of Niagara Falls, the film revolves around Monroe, a femme fatale with secret, murderous plans for her older husband (Cotten), and a honeymooning young couple who become entangled in her ill-fated scheme. “Its color is alive,” wrote Eric Rohmer in Cahiers du Cinéma, “it speaks, even if it is a shade on the vulgar side.” For Rohmer, color processes like Technicolor had the power to “reveal an iridescence that has become imperceptible to the human eye after a hundred years of responding to a world put together by photography.” 35mm print courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Screening on June 7 and June 9th

Stanley Donan & Gene Kelly’s SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952)

Arguably the greatest MGM musical of all time—presented here in a rare dye-transfer 35mm print—Singin’ in the Rain is also a marvelous movie about moviemaking, set during Hollywood’s bumpy transition to the talkies in the late 1920s. A 28-year-old Stanley Donen (who began his career as a dancer) and Gene Kelly artfully capture bodies in motion through graceful camera movements and a wash of diaphanous colors during the film’s dreamily romantic sequences, and eye-popping yellows, greens, and reds to accentuate moments of comic absurdity, joy, or sexual tension. Print courtesy of the ConstellationCenter Collection at the Academy Film Archive.

Screening on June 20 and June 25th

Vincente Minnelli’s AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951)

Vincente Minnelli’s canonical musical is an exhilarating interpretation of the Gershwin songbook, starring Gene Kelly as a bohemian expatriate living in Montmartre on the G.I. Bill, and painting in anonymity, while romantically torn between the beautiful and gamine Leslie Caron and his benefactress, the rich and stable art collector Nina Foch. The film’s climactic 17-minute ballet sequence, one of the most expensive and sophisticated dance numbers ever produced in Hollywood (and ingeniously photographed by John Alton), features Kelly and Caron in a pas de deux on sets that magically transform themselves into paintings by masters of French modernism, Dufy, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rousseau, and Utrillo. 35mm print from George Eastman Housethe Academy Film Archive; courtesy Warner Bros.

Screening on June 20 and June 23rd


In Douglas Sirk’s delirious remake of a John M. Stahl adaptation, a millionaire playboy (Rock Hudson) fervently devotes himself to the widow (Jane Wyman) whose husband’s death he recklessly caused. A worshipful Rainer Werner Fassbinder noted that, for Sirk, “you can’t make films about things, you can only make films with things, with people, with light, with flowers, with mirrors, with blood, in fact with all the fantastic things which make life worth living.” Sirk’s classicism (he was an intelligent and passionate reader of Ancient Greek drama), the expressive power of his mise-en-scène and his ability to find tenderness through melodramatic artifice, made him exquisitely attuned to Technicolor’s potential for irony and tragedy. A Sight and Sound critic has also noted “Russell Metty’s contrary use of Technicolor: we get deep menstrual reds, chalky blues, felt greens and tweedy greys, but mostly as spots of color on a largely monochromatic canvas.” Print courtesy of the Lowell Peterson, ASC. Collection at the Academy Film Archive.

Screening on June 10 and June 19

Richard Boleslawski’s THE GARDEN OF ALLAH (1936)

Dietrich, a disillusioned heiress with a seemingly endless supply of chiffon gowns, and Boyer, a fallen Trappist monk, are star-crossed, soul-weary lovers making their way across the Sahara. With its earnest eroticism and use of color for dramatic emotional effect, The Garden of Allah was a breakthrough critical success for Technicolor’s three-strip color process and for John Hay Whitney and David O. Selznick’s newly incorporated Selznick International Pictures. The film’s cinematographers, W. Howard Greene and Harold Rosson, received a special Academy Award for their refined color work in the bleached sand dunes of Buttercup Valley, Arizona, and on Sternberg-inspired Orientalist sets. Dietrich later maintained that “Selznick was the greatest perfectionist I have ever known, and The Garden of Allah was the most beautiful color film ever made.” Selznick and “Jock” Whitney, a Technicolor stakeholder and the President of MoMA’s Film Library, would go on to produce Nothing Sacred, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Gone with the Wind, and Duel in the Sun (all shown in this exhibition). 35mm restoration by The Museum of Modern Art, with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation; courtesy Walt Disney Studios.

Screening on June 5 and July 19

George Sidney’s SCARAMOUCHE (1952)

One of the great costume dramas,Scaramouche recounts Sabatini’s tale of a libertine in revolutionary France who disguises himself as a masked clown in a vaudeville troupe to avenge the death of his friend by a master swordsman, the Marquis de la Tour d’Azyr. The role of Scaramouche was a lifelong dream for Stewart Granger, who apprenticed with a fencing champion in order to perform his own swashbuckling stunts convincingly; his climactic duel in a Parisian theater with the Marquis (a lithe and balletic Mel Ferrer)—at nearly seven minutes, the longest in film history—is unforgettably thrilling. So too are the parries of sexual innuendo between Granger and wayward actress Lenore (Eleanor Parker, in a flaming red wig), and the Bourbon noblewoman (Janet Leigh) who may or may not be his sister. George Sidney directs in the grand Hollywood tradition of Fairbanks and Flynn, masterfully abetted by cinematographer Charles Rosher (whose Technicolor has a velvety lushness), composer Victor Young, and costumer Gile Steele. 35mm print from George Eastman House; courtesy Warner Bros.

Screening on June 27 and June 29

Henry King’s CHAD HANA (1940)

. Country naif Henry Fonda is a circus performer in 1840s upstate New York who must choose between Dorothy Lamour, a sensuous bareback horse rider, and Linda Darnell, a long-suffering innocent on the run from her brutish, slave-hunting father. Director Henry King was an old pro at this sort of picture—his Tol’able David (1921) is a fine example from his early, silent-era career—and he routinely turned out polished period melodramas for Twentieth Century Fox in the 1930s and 1940s (Lloyd’s of London, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, and In Old Chicago). Chad Hanna was based on a popularSaturday Evening Post serial by Walter D. Edmonds—Edmonds’s Drums along the Mohawk, adapted the year before by John Ford and also starring Fonda, also appears in this exhibition—but the center ring belongs to Ernest Palmer and Ray Renahan’s golden-hued Technicolor photography and Richard Day’s art direction. 35mm print from George Eastman House; courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Screening on June 27 and June 30

Rouben Mamoulian’s BLOOD AND SAND (1941)

Screenplay by Jo Swerling, based on the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibanez. With Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth, Alla Nazimova, Anthony Quinn. 35mm print courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Screening on July 3 and July 5


MGM pulled out all the stops for their Colortone Revues, and this delightful example features two-strip Technicolor musical numbers performed by sensational newcomer Nina Mae McKinney (“The Black Garbo”) and the Brox Sisters, a Tennessee-born singing trio. Louis Alter’s breakthrough hit song “Manhattan Serenade,” now a popular standard, was the inspiration for this exuberant paean to the island’s sybaritic charms. 35mm print courtesy George Eastman House.

Screening on June 20 and June 25

Vincente Minnelli’s YOLANDA AND THE THIEF (1945)

Dave Kehr writes, “Vincente Minnelli, a superb pictorialist as well as a great director, let his imagination run wild, and the result is a captivating, dreamlike film composed of startling, outrageous, and sometimes sublime images. It has nothing to do with good taste—and that may be the secret of its peculiar appeal. It’s kitsch liberated, personalized, and intensified, to the point where taste drops out and the film becomes an act of crazy artistic courage.” Although Yolanda and the Thief was a commercial flop and the subject of derision for years thereafter—“It perhaps needs to be seen by anyone who wants to know what killed the MGM musicals,” Pauline Kael wrote with her poison pen—its fairy tale plot, about an heiress and the swindler who pretends to be her guardian angel, is articulated with a riotous visual splendor. With art direction and choreography inspired by Tiepolo, Miró, and Tanguy, especially in the dream ballet, Yolanda and the Thief took Technicolor’s already fantastical palette in thrillingly surreal directions. 35mm print from George Eastman House; courtesy Warner Bros.

Screening on June 13 and June 23

Frank Tashlin’s ARTISTS AND MODELS (1955)

Screenplay by Herbert Baker, Hal Kanter, Don McGuire, Tashlin, based on the play Rock-a-Bye Baby! by Michael Davidson, Norman Lessing. With Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Shirley MacLaine, Dorothy Malone, Eva Gabor. 35mm print; courtesy Paramount Pictures

Screening on July 29 and July 30

King Vidor’s AN AMERICAN ROMANCE (1944)

Under King Vidor’s muscular direction, this sweeping story of a Czech immigrant iron worker turned American success story achieves a kind of epic grandeur that stands it alongside his other great achievements, The Big Parade and Our Daily Bread (“My three big themes were war, wheat, and steel,” he later observed). Though the film was subjected by MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer to extensive re-edits, Vidor’s documentary ambitions remain strikingly intact, particularly in his poetic montages of “iron mining, the production of steel, the manufacture of automobiles, and the fabrication of four-engined bombers”: the massive wartime effort as a giant colossus of man and machine, leading to the triumph of American capitalism. 35mm print from George Eastman House; courtesy Warner Bros.

Screening on June 11 and June 18

Busby Berkely’s THE GANG’S ALL HERE (1943)

Carmen Miranda sings “The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat” and 60 chorines straddle insistently probing, overgrown bananas: once seen, these images are never forgotten. Arguably the greatest—and most insanely ludicrous—of Busby Berkeley’s later efforts, The Gang’s All Here features the Brazilian Bombshell at her most overripe, her malapropisms offering flashes of comic mistranslation. Alice Faye stars as a sad-eyed showgirl being courted by a furloughed soldier who’s already spoken for, and their rocky romance provides the narrative backdrop for Berkeley’s visionary song-and-dance numbers, a series of abstract kaleidoscopic spectacles whose riotous clash of strawberry reds, banana yellows, and florescent purples and pinks are 1940s Technicolor at its most deliriously erotic (or what the critic Melissa Anderson would call “the apotheosis of fruitiness”). 35mm print; courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Screening on June 26 and June 28

Charles Walters’ EASTER PARADE

Screenplay by Sidney Sheldon, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett. Music by Irving Berlin. With Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Peter Lawford, Ann Miller. 35mm print from the Academy Film Archive; courtesy Warner Bros.

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