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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 346 (308)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 346
Page 346

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 346

we enjoyed movies even during the buzz bomb bombardments in Liege, Belgium. And I remembered how much those movies meant to all of us. Thus, I think I was helped to report more accurately the reactions of audiences.


Now-about special tie-ups, promotional stories, etc.: Donit tap a newspaper man for space unless your gimmick is really gooduunless the newspaper can come up with an excellent feature.

When a theatre manager proposed to my city editor what I write an interview with Francis, the mule-as a gag and as a promotion for the first ttFrancis" pictureemuch to the manager's surprise the editor was enthusiastic about it. The interview, with pictures, on the second front of the paper, became the most talked-about feature of the week.

This was a case where the gag was obvious, everybody knew it was a gag. and everybody (including the readers) played along with it.

Speaking of the obvious, I recall a publicity stunt a very good friend of mine, Cameron Shipp (author of "We Barrymores," th Feather on My Nose," and numerous articles about Hollywood in leading magazines) used in publicizing a Bette Davis picture, uThe Bride Came C.O.D."

Cam had the actress leaping from a plane into a cactus plant, with appropriate pictures, of course, and a fictitious doctor removing some 40-odd cactus needles from 1a derriere de Davis.

I am certain that no newspaper editor thought it was the real McCoyhyet, most of them played it on the front page and even went for subsequent stories about fast-buck guys soaking tourists with ugenuine needles from you-knowwhere."

After seeing the flood of tear sheets which resulted from this singular end of our business, Miss Davis declared: '"How do you like that-this guy Shipp making a career out of my !"

It was during his first few years in the cinema town that Cam did some publicity work for Ilka Chase and originated a bit of repartee which since has been attributed to numerous other celebrities. It went something like this:

ALTHOUGH IT DOESN'T always seem 50. reporters are human beings. and enioy being treated like one. Thank-you notes will help.


Louella Parsons: HDarling, your book is wonderful. Who wrote it for you?"

Ilka Chase: HI did, dear. Who read it to youi"

Thank-you notes to editors are as rare as low film rentals. So, when the occasion arises, why not drOp the editor or publisher a word of thanks, or tell the critic what a good review he wrote 17

How many of you have ever visited your local newspaper plants, made an effort to get acquainted? And donit overlook those boys in the composing room, especially when youire handing out passes.

When stars come to town*sure, you take them to radio stations, to civic luncheons, etc., but do you take them to your local newspapers, introduce them to the business manager, circulation manager, advertising manager, editorial department, composing room?

A SELEPORTRAIT at the author who has always tried to improve the industry's public relations.

Boost your local newspapers just as you boost civic groups of your community. If your movie editor can speak at all intelligently, book him at civic luncheons, schools, etc., and try to make him something of a voiCe of authority for motion pictures.

In fact, you might try a little of that yourself. An exhibitor should make every effort to be "Mr. Film Industry" in his community. He should keep abreast of all industry news, read the trade papers, the fan magazincs and at least. know as much about the stars and pictures as thc avoragc movie-goer.

About press overplay of Hollywood news: Big names make big news. We canlt get away from that. And many times the treatment of those big names is overboard on emphasizing the sinful side of Hollywood.

However, some time ago I made a comprehensive survey of 90 of the lead

ONE OF THE SURES'I' ways to please a critic is to quote him in the lobby and in the press ads.

ing newspapers in this country to determine just what sort of play the press was giving the motion picture industry.

The ratio in favor of Hollywood, its people and its product, was better than 10 to one.

There was more than 10 times as much space devoted to the promotion of stars and pictures than there was to the alleged sinful side of the industry!

On the other hand, while many of the newspapers surveyed were extremely generous with space, the majority was not. And that majority principally was in the smaller cities of the nation. Too many of them went for days and days with no mention of motion pictures whatever. If the space given by the minority was matched by the majority, the ratio in favor of motion pictures would be 50 to one or more.

So-in a manner of speaking, we have a lost press as well as a lost audience.


In conclusion, I would like to list a few of the more caustic comments that some of our critics have printed in the past, including one of my own pre-war examples of that vitriolic art:

ftThis review of the play, "The Front Page; belongs in the classified ad section of this newspaper under fHelp Wantedl."

Then there was the classic Dorothy Parker comment on Katharine Hepburnis performance in HThe Lake": ttMiss Hepburn ran the gamut of emotions from A to BF

And Miss Parker once substituted for Robert Benchley in The New Yorker, reviewing Channing Pollockls play, ttThe House Beautiful." She wrote: u The House Beautiful' is a play lousy."

I always likcd Robert Benchleyls gentle summation of a play: "Really, the only thing wrong with the play was the fact that the curtain was up."

Another critic declared: HHe played the king as though he was going to trump the ace."

A music critic wrote: Square Quartet played night. Brahms lost."

But, to me, the truly classic comment will always be thc last paragraph of a review of a Broadway musical show by Percy Hammond, who wrote: ttWell, l haVi- knocked everything in this show except the chorus girlsi knccsebut God anticipated me there!"

HThe FourBrahms last

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 346