The Slow March to Technicolor (1948-1957)

The third decade of the Academy Awards is best defined for me, as you may have divined by the title of this page, by the advancements in motion picture technology that came about in the ’50s. Specifically, the improvements in color film capabilities (there’s a reason that, in the first twenty years, there were only seven color nominees), and the introduction of wider and wider lenses and louder and louder sound systems, paving the way for the kind of epic films that Cecil B. DeMille had been shooting in his head for decades.

This was all in response to a tiny little box that started popping up in the homes of the newly emergent postwar middle class, television. Since people now had the option of staying home and watching things, film companies scrambled to give them something in the cinema that they couldn’t get in their living room. For the most part, they delivered, and for the most part, the good stuff rose to the top. Still, the ’50s showed a definite, if non-linear, progression away from the small, character-driven Best Pictures of the immediate postwar era, and towards the gaudy, colorful Best Pictures that dominated the Oscars until New Hollywood crushed them.