I saw this movie a few times on late-night TV during the 1950s when the movie was only about 15 years old and still looked "modern." When VHS came out in the 1980s I bought a copy and enjoyed it over and over with my two adult children. Then a few years ago I acquired a DVD copy which had better picture quality than the VHS tape which was, by then, just about worn out from use. It's become a family cult-classic to us and we know the script forward and backward. When I saw this "colorized" version on Amazon frankly I didn't expect much because the sets in the film are relatively uninteresting--a chemist's lab, a newspaper office, a police chief's office, a hotel room and an upper-class living room, plus a few scenes outdoors at night. What can you do with "color" in those dull settings, I asked myself.
What a great surprise I had when I watched the movie in color. First of all the picture quality is vastly superior to that on my other DVD copy and I noticed things that I had never noticed before despite having seen this movie at least 100 times over the years. Examples: heavy marble and glass ash trays on desks at the newspaper office, the police office and a businessman's office; models of "modern" airplanes on Joe McGinty's desk, cookies on a plate in the patio tea scene (Mary Heath serving tea to the reporter and photographer)--on my old copy it wasn't clear what, if anything, was on the plate; cast-iron lawn furniture in the garden designed in a pretty fern frond pattern (the pattern was never discernable to me before), three floor-model art-deco cabinet radios (in Joe McGinty's office, the chemist's lab and the police station), a big wooden table model radio in the hotel room, a plastic art-deco small table model radio in Mary Heath's bedroom. All of this was "there" in the older DVD and VHS copies, but they were never eye-catching or "noticeable" so to speak. All this new clarity puts you right back there in 1940 with 1940 surroundings. And as to the color, that makes everything even more 1940: pretty blue-patterned draperies and portieres in the Heath living room, a pink flower arrangement on a low table in that room (I had never noticed the flower arrangement or the portieres before); the yellow Duesenburg roadster driven by Roy Heath; the red-patterned draperies in the hotel room and then there were the colors and textures of the clothes--a light blue suit in a smooth fabric worn by the reporter in a few scenes, then a tweed textured light green suit in another; Mary Heath's complicated 1940 coiffure (identical to my mother's at her wedding in 1940!); All of these details that I missed in the old versions come right to life with this better picture clarity and color. Even hairs out of place on the heads of Dr. Carruthers and the photographer! There was just one wrong color: the telephone in Mary Heath's bedroom is pink to match the rest of the decor but in 1940 the telephone companies owned all the phones and you got a black phone unless you paid a substantial extra monthly fee on your phone bill for an ivory-colored one and there were no other colors. Phones in lots of different colors didn't come till the late 1950s. Otherwise, the colors are all perfect for the period and really bring this picture to life.