No question at all what's being promoted here--Eleanor Powell's legs. I don't like the art. She looks drunk. Literally falling down drunk. As anyone who saw THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT knows, this is also the picture where Jimmy Stewart sings...sort of...in a way. Note that her name is more than twice as big as his, though. Some nice supporting players but still, purely on the basis of this, I'd have to pass.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Warner Brothers of the 1930s was known for gritty crime dramas and for over the top musicals. Here we have a schizophrenic musical crime drama. Couldn't tell it from the ad, though, which pushes it as another Busby Berkeley-style musical, even though it's not directed by Berkeley. Too much text in too many different sizes and fonts doesn't help. A nice list of stars but with no one really highlighted here as THE star! A terrible ad all around. I'm staying home.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
ON YOUR TOES was a big, successful Rodgers and Hart Broadway musical that featured a ballet background and created a star in Ray Bolger. The Rodgers and Hart songs were rewritten by others for the film and Eddie Albert was brought in for the lead. Only one thing is being sold here, though, and that's ballet and stage star Vera Zorina. The ballet is even downplayed, with her looking here more like a typical showgirl. Twisting the whole thing to a slight angle for no apparent reason doesn't help either.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
This is a nice simple one highlighting the film's Broadway origins and secondarily highlighting the two female leads. The color and background light it all up and even the title looks like a stage marquee. What's it about? A girl and her sister, apparently. The word "uproariously" would seem to imply it's a comedy and there are a couple of good comedic character actors listed. Still...what's it about? As pretty as this one is, I don't really think it works as an ad, presuming, apparently that you have prior knowledge of the play...and what if you don't. I'd have too pass in spite of the nice looking ad.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
It's impossible not to pick up on what this one is selling! It was 1953 and the standards were easing up in movies. Sex was selling again for the first time since the Hays Code. Leo Genn. most often a more serious actor, seems an odd choice for top billing in this type of picture and none of the girls introduced are really remembered today. But this is such a cute and vaguely naughty ad that I'm sure I'd have gone.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Another random spin of the wheel brings us another Doris Day vehicle. Just a few years beyond her debut in pictures, DoDo clearly highlights this ad with her male co-star not even being all there! Was Ray Bolger really still a viable screen name in '52? Well, yes. After WHERE'S CHARLEY in 1948, he earned a few more years of big screen fame before settling into television and becoming a legend. He was 18 years older than his co-star here but that happened a lot on movies. The song of the same name had been a standard since 1932 and thus the title alone was a guarantee of box office. Doris's smile cinched it. What's not to like. Sure. Let's go.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
What's being sold here is Honest Abe himself. Fonda has just enough makeup to NOT look like Fonda so it sure isn't him. The supporting cast is good but not very well known and director Ford's name is in tiny print. The photos almost circle and definitely highlight his name and the torch acts as an arrow pointing to the face. Nope. Lincoln, pure and simple and Abe was a hero to so many then, more so even than now. No question I'd see it.
Monday, June 30, 2014
Charismatic Tony Curtis is remembered today for only a small handful of his many films and yet at one time he was one of the most popular box office attractions in the world. This was from the early days of that period and shows why so many of his films have fallen by the wayside. Typical poses, typical slogans. Can't imagine it was anything other than a typical film. Nothing here to make me want to see it, then or now.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
This film is a sequel to the earlier ON MOONLIGHT BAY but you certainly can't tell that from this ad. Both Gordon and Doris look a bit off in an otherwise nice layout, as though they were retouched just a tad. Gordon's name, with the necessary small "ac" throws off the symmetry of the upper portion of the ad. Basically the ad's telling me, "Hey look! It's an old-fashioned love story with a number of songs and two likable people. If that works for you, then here it is." Okay, what the heck. That does work for me sometimes. I'm in.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
A good movie and a great ad! The color works well. The ad seems to push Myrna as its main selling pint with no less than 3 images but the camaraderie is being promoted as well. Gable and Loy were, at one point--before or after this I don't recall--named King and Queen of Hollywood. And tracy was already touted as perhaps Hollywood's best actor.With war fever building, the background of test pilots and planes was timely, too. That was enough. I'd catch the opening matinee.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Okay, now this ad's just creepy...which is, I guess, the idea, seeing as how it's touting the creators of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE as having written the play n which it's based. The thing is, Van Johnson looks creepy in it, too! And June Allyson--never a favorite of mine, I have to add--just looks awkward. Is she dancing or about to punch someone? Probably Van!
Screenplay is by future sitcom guru (I DREAM OF JEANNIE) and ever further future mega-bestselling author, Sidney Sheldon but that's not necessarily a good thing. An okay supporting cast highlighted by black actress Dorothy Dandridge which definitely intrigues. Still, even though I like a good scary comedy, there is nothing here that grabs me and the ad itself is a turn-off. So...no.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
I swear we're choosing these at random but here's another Don Ameche one!It's nicely laid out and the red lipstick on the black and white images works well but it's still a tad busy toward the bottom. Stage star Mary Martin never quite made it in films although she achieved some middle-aged fame on television beginning in the 1950s as, of all things, Peter Pan! She--and her lips--are clearly the selling point here, though. While the movie is based on a play by no less than Clare Booth Luce (co-founder of LIFE, future representative and ambassador), that's buried in tiny print at the bottom. Ameche gets top billing but smaller imagery.
Jack Benny's Rochester, only a few years on the radio by this point, was popular enough to solo, and with special billing yet! Although not under his own name, Eddie Anderson. Sigh.
Oscar Levant was another odd talent who, although often playing a variation on his true neurotic self on film, never quite made it and had to wait for Jack Paar where he became a perennial TV favorite as a guest. A good if lesser-known supporting cast backs them all up and some forgotten song title are highlighted.
Would I go. I don't think so. I like the ad, I like Ameche and Rochester. Nothing else says yes...including the lips of Ms. Martin, mother of Larry Hagman.
Saturday, June 14, 2014
Well, this busy page gets your attention but it's a little much for one's eyes to take in. Promoted in the main here is, of course, Doris Day, whose 2nd picture this was, although she'd been big on radio, records and in personal appearances for several years. Her name at upper left slides into her picture and then a series of then-topical "flying discs" that lead down to the picture's title. There another disc points over to comic actor Jack Carson, who had also appeared with Doris her first time out. We're told it's in Technicolor. We see it's directed by the man who brought us CASABLANCA...although I'm not sure that's a selling point as it's hardly the same type of movie. It's a Warner Brothers picture and while that's downplayed until bottom right, it would have been obvious to many filmgoers since Warners had and made good use of one of the best stables of contract supporting players in Hollywood, several of whose names are seen here.
Bottom line--It's made by people with good reps, its star is pretty and sings well.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Alexander Graham Bell, of course, invented a telephone. Not the first one, though, but his Bell telephone worked better than earlier models and so history chose him to make it simple. This movie deals with his true story and, as Hollywood tended to do, some made up parts.
The picture became so popular that its star's name, "Ameche," actually became synonymous with telephones, as in "Get me my brother on the Ameche." I used to think that was some after the fact PR but I actually heard someone in an old radio show use the expression once.
This ad offers some images that aren't easy to understand unless one already knows the story, along with way too much text in an attempt to explain it all. Most prominent is the face of Ameche--here not long away from being Charlie McCarthy's radio announcer!--pressed up against that of Loretta Young, indicating a love story, with Henry Fonda nearby, indicating a love triangle...which it actually isn't.
A good cast. Fonda, of course, would remain an A list actor all his life, even winning the Oscar for what turned out to be his final role in the 1980s.
Ameche's career faded drastically but eventually, in the '80s, he had one of the biggest comebacks in film history with a spate of big name hits, above the title billing and award nominations!
Bell's telephone, on the other hand, has largely been supplanted by other means of communication.
In 1939, though, I would have used it a lot and thus been curious about the man who invented it. I'd have gone.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Jack Hulbert is one of those early sound comics--in England mainly--whose reputation has faded over the years but he was quite popular in his day. So much so that his name and face were all that was needed to sell a movie. Probably his best remembered picture today is ALIAS BULLDOG DRUMMOND (aka BULLDOG JACK) in which his comic character is thrust into the center of an otherwise serious mystery in the place of the famous detective of the title. It was funny. He was funny. If, in 1934, I was familiar with Jack Hulbert, this simple would undoubtedly be enough to send me off to the theater.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
It's hard for us to imagine form our viewpoint today just how exotic and alien Hawaii seemed in 1942. Before Pearl Harbor, many Americans had no idea where Hawaii was or even exactly WHAT it was! Thus the fad for Hawaiian music and culture was brought to the fore as the islands were mentioned in the news so often.
This is a well-done ad, highlighting the Hawaiian music aspects without hitting one over the head with them. The lovely Betty Grable's WWII pin-up status assured her popularity in wartime musicals despite her--admit it--rather modest acting and singing skills. Victor Mature seems an odd choice here for leading man but then one realizes that they seem to be trying to make him look like Bogart here and Bogart was, in 1942, at the early peak of his popularity! Jack Oakie always made a great sidekick.
Further down in the cast, one sees the names Harry Owens and Hilo Hattie. The former was perhaps the biggest proponent of Hawaiian music on the mainland and the latter was his discovery and protégée who went on to a unique iconic status in the Islands.
Would I see it? Hard to say. If I were a contemporary filmgoer, I would be more likely to be intrigued by the setting and thus more likely to say yes. As it is now, I'd pass.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
From the original, short-lived 3-D boom of the fifties, here we have a picture promoting three things--the gimmick, the legs and the cast.
It's a nifty idea of a grabber to show the chorus dancing right off the screen. This was a Paramount release so we don't really get ant A list musical performers but Rhonda Fleming was probably THE preeminent redhead of the era so we start out well. Gene Barry, known later for a half dozen or so suave TV series roles on shows like BAT MASTERSON, BURKE'S LAW and THE NAME OF THE GAME, would also go on to make a name for himself in Broadway musicals like LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. Agnes Moorehead, best remembered for BEWITCHED but arguably the best radio actress of them all, was always a welcome presence in films. Teresa Brewer was a then-popular recording star whose career, although never stellar, would stretch another few decades! Guy Mitchell, another long-lived but under the radar pop star, was her male equivalent. By contrast, the Bell Sisters were a flavor of the month singing duo who appeared in a couple of films around this time.
I don't recognize any of the behind the scenes names and I can't see 3-D but it's a respectable enough cast that if I weren't doing anything, I'd probably go and I'd probably enjoy it...although I doubt I'd remember it a few weeks later.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Maybe it;s just me but I think this one is terrible. Many (most?) people of the day would have been familiar with THE ODYSSEY and other versions of the story of ULYSSES so the fact that it was an adaptation of a classic was the main selling point. The note that it was in Technicolor was a plus as these epics were born for color!
Silvana Mangano looks pretty good there, statuesque...literally. She was an Italian actress but not the fiery type. Her career was solely masterminded by her husband, Producer Dino De Laurentiis, later known as one of the world's most successful international producers. He produced this one with Carlo Ponti, another man whose wife--Sophia Loren--was in pictures!
Where it falls down for me, though, is with Kirk Douglas. Not only is he seemingly miscast but he looks like he's doing just that...falling down!
It's a good movie. I've seen it. But if I had seen this ad first, I'd have passed.
Monday, May 19, 2014
This one is a lovely ad, isn't it? It's only flaw may be that it's in black and white when the picture itself is in glorious technicolor.
What's being sold here is clear--the Ameche/Faye team, Fox's A-list romantic musical comedy stars PLUS a whole supporting cast full of then still-familiar silent comedians including the one and only Buster Keaton and even cross-eyed Ben Turpin!
Really not much not to like here. I'd see this one in a heartbeat!
(And yet, oddly enough, as of this writing I've never SEEN it!)
Sunday, May 18, 2014
More a photo feature than an ad, this 2 page plug for Jack Benny's ARTISTS AND MODELS may have seemed like a good idea to someone at the time but it's a little too busy and a little too inconsequential to make a difference. Outside of some generic proclamations about how gay and gag-filled the picture is, I couldn't tell you what this movie was about.
Nice pic of Jack, though. Contrary to popular belief--spurred on by Jack himself--Benny's movies were often quite entertaining. This one offers Judy Canova, Martha Raye and Ben Blue--known laugh-getters all, along with the now forgotten but hilarious Yacht Club Boys.
And those artists, including Rube Goldberg, Peter Arno and Russell Patterson...What do they have to do with the plot? Who knows? The very title implies sex. After all, artists DRAW models and sometimes those models wear little or nothing when they're being drawn.
Bottom line, here, though, is Jack Benny. 1937 was a year when Jack's weekly radio show was building to its early peak and he was arguably one of the most famous men in the country. They could have left out everything but the image of Jack in this overdesigned ad and I'd still have to say, yes, I'd see it in a heartbeat.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Outside of the uncharacteristically giddy look on Henry Fonda's face here, this is a lovely ad with the red shade playing well with the greys of the black and white photo to nice effect. Clearly what's being sold here is the reunion of Fonda and Stanwyck. Even the two guys at right (?) seem interested in said reunion.
Wesley Ruggles was a name to reckon with at the time as director although his cache has faded with time. Former licensed dentist Edgar Buchanan was an impressive character actor in comedies or dramas so he may have well been a selling point as well.
You can tell this is meant to be a romantic comedy but that's about all you can tell. According to IMDB, it's actually pretty dull and even bad in spots, with original story by the controversial Dalton Trumbo. The thing is, you can't tell any of that from this ad either.
Would I see it? I might have been disappointed but, at the time, I'd have to say yes.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
It's a goofy-looking title now but in 1939 Rudyard Kipling's poem would have been much better known than it is today. That said, it was (and is) a poem, not a story, so the casual reader would have been intrigued as to what additional story the already legendary screenwriters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur had added to it through the lesser known credited screenwriters. Seems to be a foreign legion tale. Those were quite popular in those days. And look at those faces, laughing, lusty adventurers all! Fairbanks, Jr. was probably the biggest draw at that point with Grant just starting to reach his stride. Both were known for neat, clean roles and in this one they were about to get messy.
Victor McLaglen, Eduardo Cianelli, Sam Jaffe (in the title role but you couldn't tell that from this ad) and a young Joan Fontaine, familiar names all, round out the heralded cast and George Stevens produces and directs.
Would I have seen it based on this ad? Absolutely. And I'd have loved it!
Undoubtedly more recognizable then than he is today, the now nearly forgotten Robert Donat's image highlights this ad. The main selling point, though, is the fact that it comes from a big name book. The presumption seems to be that one is already familiar with said book. If not, only the word "doctor" in the text hints that this is a medical drama. But even that doesn't reveal the British Isles setting thereof. The casting of Rosalind Russell doesn't help as she is not British. Althogh she'd already had a number of major film appearances prior to this, her greatest triumphs were still ahead of her, starting 2 years later with HIS GIRL FRIDAY.
The chameoeon-like Donat is probably best remembered for his roles in Hitchcock's 39 STEPS as well as for his Oscar-winning turn in the following year's GOODBYE MR. CHIPS.
King Vidor's name as director might have indicated to some that this was to be a heavy, message picture. Vidor, although an excellent filmmaker, was the Stanley Kramer of his day, specializing in "relevant" filmmaking.
The supporting cast list shows the always welcome Ralph Richardson and the young Rex Harrison. Rex could be a fun presence in films through the years but he is here still nearly 3 decades out from his surprising mid-life super-stardom that came via MY FAIR LADY and led to DR. DOLITTLE.
The book itself continues to sell to this day and was generally stocked when I was managing bookstores up through 2008.
Bottom line: It's a pretty ad, well-designed and eye-catching but not particularly informative. I think I'd have to pass.
Monday, May 12, 2014
Nothing not to like on this one. An imposing figure with a clever incorporation into the title of the picture and a semi-comic strip at the bottom with drawn scenes. You quickly get the idea that the humans are being made tiny and that the Doctor, described here as "diabolical," is not a nice fella! The sort of special effects promised in this ad were far from the norm in 1940 so that was also a treat to anticipate.
Albert Dekker stars but he was probably not a recognizable name. A great character actor for many years, this was, I believe, his first starring role. His only one maybe? He would ultimately meet a tragic end as would listed co-star Victor Kilian. But no one could have suspected that in 1940. But an evil doctor, shrunken people and secret rays. I would have been SO there in 1940!
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Were they kidding? WAY too much print here. What seems designed to be the attention-grabber is the word "Hell" at top. Considered a rather strong no-no word in those days, its block letters are even underlined here for emphasis. Tells us...what? If you already know the story of DANTE'S INFERNO, then you know it DOES deal with Hell. What you don't know is that this isn't THAT story anyway. There's no clue about that in the text.
Spencer Tracy was still an up and comer at this stage, as was Claire Trevor, neither yet at the peak of their abilities or their drawing powers. And with the whole ad looking more overall like the cover of some "end-of-the-world" pamphlet delivered to your door by a couple of well-dressed folks while you're trying to sleep in on a Saturday morning, I would most definitely pass on this one!
This ad has a masterful, stylish design that would most definitely get one's attention even now. The iconic looking image of actress Merle Oberon draws your eyes and the searchlights pull them down to her co-stars. Frederic March had already been in the business for 14 years with some major leading roles behind him and plenty more still ahead of him. In this particular case, this role had, in fact, been meant for Leslie Howard but that fell through when he ended his love affair with Oberon. March was brought in reluctantly. No way you could tell any of that from this ad, though. All it implies is a love triangle and a war setting, and that's what you get. Third wheel Herbert Marshall never quite had that breakthrough role in films although he worked steadily for nearly 4 decades in spite of having lost a leg in the real World War I. He did have a long-running radio series.
Would I go see this. Definitely got my attention. Sure. I'm in.
As I've said before, it's all about what you want to sell. In this case it's Gable romancing Crawford, period. Clark was the King of Hollywood that year and Crawford, at her own peak of success, had been one of his most popular leading ladies so here she was again. Simple as that.
If you wanted to look closer, you'd see that Woody Van Dyke was directing, he of the great THIN MAN movies. If you followed the gossip columns of the day, you'd likely recognize that co-star Franchot Tone had then just recently become Joan's new husband in real life.
The clever title image with the romantic heart running gave little info as to the picture's plot except to hint strongly of a similarity to Gable's recent Oscar winner for Columbia, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. Subtle here...but not in the movie itself. It really was pretty close to the same plot.
Would this ad have made me see it then? If I were a movie fan at all in the thirties, this ad would have told me everything I need to know about LOVE ON THE RUN. So, yes. I'm there.
Sex sells and that's all they're pushing here. A buzzword title even then, UNDER EIGHTEEN was a highly hyped follow-up to young and sexy Marian Marsh's appearance in SVENGALI. She WAS a star. 1932 was her year. She literally has a spotlight on her here and looks like she's about to strip. Unfortunately, what was about to be stripped was her momentum. UNDER EIGHTEEN didn't do well at all and Marsh rebelled, resulting in Warners dropping her contract and her career never again reaching the lofty heights where she was at this exact moment in time.
Oh, and there's good ol' reliable Warren William down there, too, mentioned pretty much as an afterthought. What's this picture about? Who knows? And certainly no one cared.
I would have passed this one by in a second unless I was a particularly big fan of Ms. Marsh.
This illustration is by Saul Tepper, a prolific illustrator (and songwriter!) who was an excellent choice for the material. Unfortunately so much of the image is lost to the layout.
The selling point here would have been Robert Louis Stevenson. Movies based on classic books by big name authors were all the rage and this was the first time, as it points out, that the TREASURE ISLAND author's supposed favorite of his works had hit the screen.
Warner Baxter, quintessentially American, seems odd casting in spite of the legend under his name on the poster, but young and popular Freddie Bartholomew, who had already made a career out of these classics adaptations, was a real draw.
Newcomer Arleen Whelan, another American, worked for about 25 years but generally under the radar. She had been discovered by a director as a manicurist and brought to the attention of Darryl Zanuck who decided to make her a star! Knowing what we know now about that sort of thing--and a bout Zanuck--you wonder.
Beyond that, though the best of the Hollywood British colony were trotted out to fill the roles in this Scottish boys' adventure story.
Direction was by Alfred Wexler who had done the prestigious but now forgotten HOUSE OF ROTHSCHILD. That and the fact that no less than four writers are listed are not exactly selling points. When that many are needed to adapt a simple, classic story, you know they've messed with it quite a bit.
The Verdict? Would this ad have made me want to see the movie? Close...but no.
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Here's an example of a busy ad that works. Whoever designed this knew what they were selling: Sex, in the central figure of Ann Sothern, laughs in the close-up on Red Skelton's face (and the line on his hat referencing his radio catch phrase), and the fact that Middle America could now see a hit Broadway musical they had only read about during its Broadway run. Of course, Middle America didn't yet realize that these things sometimes had little in common with the originals by the time they hit the screen.
The blue highlights the right areas without being distracting and there's just enough smaller images to intrigue and not make the rest harder to see.
The music is by Cole Porter "and others," the latter not necessarily being a good sign. That said, one of the songs listed is "Just One of Those Things" which, now, is considered a major classic! I don't know this for certain but something tells me "The Son-Of-A-Gun Who Picks On Uncle Sam" was written by "others."
Arthur Freed musicals from MGM are nearly all choice and Freed's name would have most likely been a selling point already in the wake of WIZARD OF OZ, STRIKE UP THE BAND and BABES ON BROADWAY. The cast is good with my fellow Kentuckian Rags Ragland who had already appeared both in several of Red's pictures as well as several of Ann's MAISIE series. Deadpan comic singer Virginia O'Brien was a scream and was later to be married to Kirk SUPERMAN Alyn. Already veterans, Alan Mowbray and Ben Blue round out the cast with Marsha Hunt, unknown to me but still alive at age 96 as of this writing. Ms. Hunt worked steadily from the mid-1930s until 1988 with a couple of additional credits as recent as 2008!
Verdict: Would I have seen this movie just based on this ad? Yes!
I like the basic layout of this ad but I question the choice of photos and the use of red as the sole color. It was 1941 and Bob Hope was not yet the superstar he was soon to become due to his WWII efforts to entertain the troops. At this time, he was mainly known as a fast-talking radio comic who had been in a handful of entertaining motion pictures like THE CAT AND THE CANARY, GHOST BREAKERS and the first two ROAD movies. So what is our central image here? A hapless looking Hope dressed as a king and yet looking like a fool...literally. And then the choice to have him in that same outfit directly underneath that. The red may have been chosen to highlight the lipstick in the two side images but by highlighting Bob’s lips in the main image, it adds to the overall clown look. The Technicolor is hyped but the ad itself would have looked better in black and white rather than with just the red. Lots of pretty girls in those other images, signifying the advertised “100 Louisiana Belles,” but they’re kind of generic even by the standards of the day and just give the whole ad an overly busy look. Finally, by having nearly ALL the wording including the cast and the title at an angle, the reader has to make an effort (mild though it would have been) to read what SHOULD be just bouncing off the page at him!
The film’s pedigree is great but any time you advertise yourself with taglines like, “the greatest musical comedy ever filmed!” you’re just asking for it. Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin but not a big hit among the songs listed here. Based on the musical comedy by Morrie Ryskind who provided the Marx Brothers with some of their best set pieces...only he didn’t do the actual screenplay here. And speaking of which, what’s this picture about anyway? Nota clue in the entire ad!
As far as the cast, Hope was at an early peak in this period. Whiny Victor Moore was pretty much a ringer, an always welcome character comic. But Vera Zorina? She was a ballet dancer who was, in fact, married to the great George Ballanchine at the time. Sad to say she did NOT have the drawing power of Dorothy Lamour or Jane Russell or the harem of leading ladies Hope came to be known for soon enough.
Based on this ad, would I have gone to see the picture in 1941? No.