sabato, novembre 19, 2016

The Art of Selling Movies by John McElwee

Going to the cinema to me means everytime to feel that strong magic. It's a strange sensation. It's
like to leaving once I am in the theater the old normal dimension of my reality for living a dream. A
door of a theater to me means the entrance in another dimension: the one of a dream for a hour and
half for two hours. It's something I can't completely describe because too profound and felt.

It's like if a portion of me would abandon the normality for being completely immersed in a
different and new exciting world. Movies are these: dreams created by a lot of
dream-makers not just movie-makers. It would be too
simplistic according to my point of view. I love all-fashioned things, stories, I go crazy for
vintage, romanticism and where possible the past world, more suggestive, real, cleaned, less predictable and more normal under many aspects. It is also for this reason that I requested and I was approved by NetGalley for reading
The Art of Selling Movies by John McElwee by GoodKnight Books.

If you want and if you love to understand much better what it meant publicity, ads in newspapers at first the only way for communicating to the people that a new movie was coming to their town, this book is for you. We are at the beginning of 1900 a long walk since at 1960s.

Wagons and wagons of ads of every possible movie, the author is an avid collectors of ads. These movies will live again bringing back to you joy for a past period maybe you have lived or maybe not, as it happened for me, although I grew up with the movies of most of these remarkable, immense stars because programmed on TV.


The net didn't exist in 1910,for example and families couldn't have any clue of what to go to see to the cinema. They couldn't surf the web for discovering the opinions of Rotten Tomatoes, they couldn't watch some trailers. And so?

In the past each theater mainly organized at first ads and publicity in local newsmagazines. They emphasized the arrival of the movie. At that time people tried all their best through drawings,beautiful fonts, incisive phrases for gently forcing people or entire families to spend some time to the cinema. What is cinema if not one of the most wonderful
dream of our times?
Somewhere someone has put all his intelligence and creativity for creating a dream. It can be a beautiful dream, a dream for the entire family, a horror. Whatever will be it will be a masterpiece and a creature of many minds and creators.

The book analyzes of course the various phases of the ads. In 1920s for example movies like Variety, 1926 with
the entrance in scene of new boats, fastest cars and biggest industrialization made the difference.
Sounds added to the movies and it meant that people could hear also the voices of their favorite actors and actresses.
In many cases ads put their accent on the beauty of the protagonists of the movie, others tried to tell the story in few lines, strong and of secure effect able to speak at women firstly, children and men in this order.  Also in ads no one forgot to add that there was air conditioned in their theaters, a luxury just richest ones could afford in that old times.  Everything, from pop-corn to the diversified
possibility of food and drinks offered to the viewers published.

A ticket in the 20's cost just 50 cents.
The big crisis of 1929 created a big depression also in the sector. Many theaters' owners constricted to close their theaters in particular in little towns. In the while ads of the five most important studios became more sophisticated.

In 1933 arrives on the big screen King Kong, a timeless classic. Censorship a reality. Horror starts to be an important voice in Hollywood's industry like also foreign wild places and stories. Look at Tarzan and not only Tarzan...

Tom Sawyer written by Mark Twain? Its appearance on theaters in 1930.

A new movie in particular in a little town was a sensational event and theaters tried all their best for attracting as many people as possible. In 1939 the arrival of Judy Garland and The Wizard of Oz.
Actors became icons for people.

Stanlio & Ollio presented to the viewers  wagons of smiles and great laughs. Why modern comicity is so sad why Stanlio & Ollio so wonderful? Clark Gable one of the sexiest and recognized talented actors of Hollywood. Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire began to flying, ops, to dance on the big screen for the joy and happiness of American families.

The Gulliver's Travel a new dream of 1939 like also Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Disney.

The 1940's are the age of boom and a different market but also of Hitler portrayed by Charlie Chaplin.

When war finished saluted with great joy and enthusiasm by everyone. Feasts were lived with enthusiasm and everyone loved to celebrate. In these celebrations cinema was a voice more than welcomed and surely included by everyone.
Stars like Frank Sinatra and Glenn Miller on screen and everyone wanted to go to see them to the cinema singing and acting and dancing. John Wayne a name of western movies, Bela Lugosi of  horror movies, Bugs Bunny and friends another great reality for children, Mickey Rooney, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor,Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck,the biggest stars of Hollywood.


The 50s speaks of more acculturated viewers,  tired of what they were seeing to the cinema. 
The arrival of TV meant a new different phase in the sense that competition and different opportunities for movies were born.

Theaters changed, for better the vision of the movies with Cinerama.
Drive-ins after the Second World War returned to be a reality for  families, couples, some friends who wanted to enjoy some outdoor moments with joy, serenity living a different evening enjoying at the same time a good meal and great company.

More adult contents, a market created only for some people, sectors, children for example, while in 1955 movies  and their promotion starts to be seen also on TV.

Newspapers ads so in the 60s lost their big and central importance considering that other medium involved and movies could be seen at home as well.


I consider this book a rich story of the American cinema. If you love newsmagazines and the power of  illustrations, if you treasure the past, if you want to keep close to you a piece of cinema, the ones most hidden the one brought people to the theater for seeing a movie, this book is for you!

You will find in every pages many wonderful ads, a joy to see these ads, never seen before and how America and the imaginations of a lot of men and women described the movies. Movies with which I grew up with and
that let me fell in love once for cinema. Each ad of the newspaper commented by the author.

This book is a real treasure and will be released this new year, on Feb 28th. Don't miss this date!



Many thanks to NetGalley and the publishing house GoodKnight Books.

Anna Maria Polidori

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