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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 345 (307)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 345
Page 345

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 345

the paper. Some times heid help me dig up a story that didnt even mention his company or its product.

Be Sincere

Yours is a long-range program. You cannot afford to be insidious. You must be honest and sincere. Don't antagonize the critter. Try to educate him. Help him get the "feel" of the paying customers. Don't cry on his shoulder about trade practices or other industry problems. Donlt alibi Hollywood. Donlt lie. Tell him the truth-unless he is one of the snide type mugs who enjoys any form of crucifixion. Donit boot-lick the guy. Treat him as an equal, even if you don't feel that way. Honestly, basically, hes a pretty good guy-just underpaid and generally unhappy.

Donlt plant resentment in him by putting him on the carpet because of a bad review. Sometimes he's right. If he is, tell him so. And, in a left-handed way, sometimes you can tell him when hels wrong. If you make it a point to know the character, youill know when you can say something like this: ffLook, Joe

CONSTANTLY ATTACKING the press will not aid in getting critics and editors to be friendly.

you may be right, but that picture you panned is breaking house records, etc."

Another thing: fouotelf him in lobby displays and in press ads. Thatls a wonderful feeling to a critic, I donlt care how big or how small he is. I know that I used to get a terrific charge out of walking by a theatre and seeing a lobby easel saying: 'fDick Pitts says this is a Imust-seey picture," or words to that effect.

Critic Defined

Incidentally, just what is a critic? I think Joseph Pulitzer summed it up neatly: "A good critic is merely a good reporter."

However, it was Pulitzer who also said: uAccuracy is to a newspaper what virtue is to a woman."


HE'S NOT A bad guy. really-just underpaid and in many cases quite a bit misunderstood.

To me, everybody is a critic*the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker -all of them want to get in their twobits worth, no matter what the subjects shoes, ships, sealing wax, cabbages, or kings.

Fortunately, in this country, everybody can be a critic without fear. Everybody can criticize anything from soup to nuts; from his neighbors new car to his wifeis new hat; from a $2,800,000,000 film industry to our umpteen-billiondollar governmenteand they usually do. Just read the open forum columns of your local newspapers and you will see what I mean.

I realize that to most exhibitors an distributors, the newspaper critic is something of a prima donna. Some are, but the great majority are not. Regardless, some attention should be paid to the care and feeding of critics.

I recall a fellow critic who was always the object of scorn and vilification of two local branch managers. I did not always agree with his opinions about pictures, but I know that he tried to be fair and to give an honest report. I know that he tried to sluff off the repeated insults by the managers, but I imagine that when he reviewed their pictures, subconsciously he would be more critical than usual.


On the other hand, I have always contended that exhibitors and distributors credit critics with far more influence upon the public than they actually have, and there is plenty of evidence to prove it.

Over a period of several months I wrote a number of columns deploring the, distractions of patrons eating popcorn and candy in movie theatres. Once, I wrote repeatedly, nI do not like popcorn in theatres," for one whole column, some 800 words. Those were the uHate Pitts" months along film row. The Manloy Popcorn branch manager was threatr ening to bash in my head on sight. Yet that, Christmas he presented me, with a fifth of Scotch.

ttMy last quarter showed an increase of 21) per cent in sales," he declared. uPretty please, continue blasting popcorn."

Conversely, a Universal director manager credited me with making boxofiice successes out of such pictures as "Seventh Veil," nMadonna of the Seven Moons? "Hamlet," and others in the Carolinas.

Sports writers seem to enjoy a prestige and authoritativeness that is denied almost all movie critics. And I doubt that the average sports writer is any better qualified to comment critically about the field he covers than the average movie critic.

Probably there is one major difference, as Spyros Skouras emphasized to me two years ago: "Most sports writers love sports, whereas most movie critics do not love the movies to the same degree." That may be stretching a point, but, by and large, too frequently it is true.

I donit think too much emphasis can be put upon Hhelping a reviewer get the feel of the audiences."

Eugene W. Street, who now operates a chain of theatres out of Poughkeepsie, N. Y., for Paramount, was chiefly responsible for that little iffeell, I have for the paying customers.

Back in the days before trade shows, Gene and I used to open his theatre early in the morning a couple of times a week and screen up-coming pictures. He would discuss the pictures merits and how to sell it, and we would predict what sort of reception it would receive.

But I dont think I fully understood what he was driving at until I had spent three years in the Army Engineers.

A year after I had returned to my desk, Mike Kincey stopped me on the street and said: uYour reviews of pictures seem to make more sense than they used to. There is more tolerance, more understanding. Pm curious. What brought about the change?"

After a moment of honest introspection, I concluded: "Three years in the Army? And I remembered how we packed large tents in the forests of England to see the latest Hollywood product; how We watched. movies in old barns and tents in Normandy battle areas, the noise of the artillery frequently drowning the movie sound; how

EXHIBITORS MAY not always agree with a' review. but remember it's just one man's opinion

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 345