From the 1930s-1950s, people in the U.S. thought they dreamed mostly in black and white. Nowadays, people think they dream mostly in color. In previous work, I've presented evidence that this change in opinion was driven by people's over-analogizing dreams to movies -- assuming their dreams are colored if the film media around them are colored, assuming their dreams are black and white if the film media around them are black and white. A few days ago, I summarized my research on this at the Velaslavasay Panorama Museum in L.A., and media scholar Ann-Sophie Lehmann, who was in the audience, raised this question: If people thought they dreamed in black and white in that period, did the cinema of the time tend to portray dreams as black and white?
Here's the idea: If Hollywood directors in the 1930s-1950s thought that dreams were black and white, then color films from that period ought often to portray dream sequences in black and white. This would presumably have been, by the directors' lights, a realistic way to portray dreams, and it would also solve the cinematic problem of how to let the audience know that they're viewing a dream sequence. But that doesn't seem to have been the pattern. In fact, one of the most famous movies of the era actually goes the reverse direction: The Wizard of Oz (1939) portrays Oz in color and Kansas in black and white, and arguably Oz is Dorothy's dream.
I'm not worried about my thesis that people in the U.S. in that era didn't think they dreamed in color -- the evidence is too overwhelming -- but it's interesting that American cinema in that era did not tend to portray dreams as black and white. Why not? Or am I wrong about the cinema of the period? It seems worth a more systematic look. Thoughts? Suggestions?