Carson City (1952) would probably be remembered just as a pretty decent Randolph Scott Western, directed by the always-interesting Andre de Toth, if not for the fact that it was the first picture released in WarnerColor.
In a way, Kodak’s Eastmancolor tripack negative film was just what Hollywood was looking for in the early Fifties — a cheaper, more convenient way to shoot color. And color was one thing TV didn’t have.
Compared to Technicolor, which exposed three strips at once and required really high light levels, Eastmancolor cut the negative cost by two-thirds. And the Technicolor camera weighed something like 500 pounds, while Eastmancolor ran through a normal, lighter black-and-white camera. Suddenly, the number of films shot in color went up dramatically.
Looking at it today, it seems Eastman Kodak was very willing to license their new technology to whoever had a checkbook, because soon studios were bragging about Super Cinecolor, Metrocolor, Columbia Color, Pathe Color and Deluxe. Some didn’t bother with a fancy name and just called it what it was: Eastmancolor. But the studios didn’t have all that much to brag about. They would find that the new process had more grain than Technicolor. The color was far less vibrant, and sometimes downright harsh-looking. Then there was the fading — which would leave the picture looking an awful brownish-pink. (The 16mm collector’s market is filled with such nasty-looking artifacts. In fact, there’s a faded, anamorphic print of The Comancheros — which had Color By Deluxe — on eBay right now.)
Over time, Eastmancolor would become better-looking and more stable — and its current incarnation is what we usually see in multiplexes today.
Andre de Toth and DP John W. Boyle showed they were up to the challenge. Carson City looks pretty good, and it was successful. Eventually, de Toth would direct six Scotts total, with all four of the Warner Bros. ones being in WarnerColor.
By the way, Carson City is available on DVD through Warner Archive.