By day I work in a camera/photo shop here in New Orleans, so as you can imagine I have quite a love for photography. I'm not quite old enough to have had the full experience of film photography, but that doesn't mean I do not have respect and adoration for the art form. At the top of my list of favorite film mediums is Kodak Kodachrome. I help customers all the time with their old Kodachrome slides and they always produce the most gorgeous photos. Colors and sharpness so crisp the images jump off the print.
So when I came across the book 'Hollywood In Kodachrome' by David Wills while on my usual weekly mission at Barnes and Noble, I just had to have it! They must have just gotten these books in because it was wrapped in plastic and looked so perfect! Beautiful coffee table books full of Old Hollywood pictures will always be my drug of choice...
The book opens with gorgeous photos and a foreword written by the lovely Rhonda Fleming. She talks about how she was discovered by talent agent Henry Willson and about her dislike of her Hollywood nickname, "The Queen of Technicolor." She also admits to not being a trained actress and that her main influences in Hollywood came from top model of the day Anita Colby. Honestly, I didn't know much of her before reading this, but I did appreciate her explanation of how the photography side of the studio system worked.
After we here from Rhonda there is a very informative introduction by David Wills where he discusses the beginnings and uses of color film in Hollywood during the early 1900's. One fact I didn't know before this book was that Kodachrome was the first sustainable color film to be made. Of course that came with a long list of cons, but it did produce some of the most vibrant photos ever produced. The lighting had to be bright, and make up had to be caked on, but the end result was phenomenal.
After the text, comes the real gems of this publication, over 250 gorgeously illustrated Kodachrome photos from 1940-1949. Everyone from Rita Hayworth and Veronica Lake to Lucille Ball and Betty Grable. My biggest surprise came toward the end of the book... apparently Marilyn Monroe's infamous nude 'Red Velvet' session by Tom Kelley was shot with Kodachrome! The color and vibrancy of these photos has always stood out to me and after seeing them in this book it all makes perfect sense.
I will forever have an admiration of the Old Hollywood style of photography. Whether it is the dramatic George Hurrell black and whites or the vibrant Kodachrome shots of the 1940's... the photos present the stars of that time as glamorous gods and goddesses. Even if only for a second, these photos share a little bit of that glamour with us mortals down here in the real world.
You can buy 'Hollywood In Kodachrome' at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. All of the photos used in this post were captured by me from my copy of the book.