Movie Theater Movie Palace Ephemera

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by Edward Reed, Jul 23, 2021.

  1. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    Tried to find a suitable thread for this but couldn’t find one that was right… so starting a new one for posting vintage movie theater items such as posters, one sheets, programs, tickets, lobby cards and other vintage promotional items or even actual vintage theater equipment!
    (Feel free to consider anything from the latter part of the 20th century vintage as well!)


    This would have been a common sight in windows on a Main Street, Anytown USA in the 1930s and 40’s.

    I acquired this original 1942 theater lobby card with the schedule of films for the Mayfair Movie Theater in Bridgton, Maine (Measures a nice large 17 “ x 28 “ printed on heavy card stock)

    Carol Lombard had just died in an airplane crash January 16, 1942 (two weeks prior to this theater’s scheduled showing of the 1937 film True Confessions.)

    Most likely the theater wanted to pay tribute and capitalize on the news of her death.

    I don’t know how much lead time would have been needed to acquire a film and have promotions printed and delivered but I can just imagine the theater owner scrambling and ordering his assistant to call the film distributor for a “Carol Lombard picture.”

    “Get the distributor on the Ameche and tell ‘em to whip up a Carol Lombard picture and have it delivered in a jiffy!”

    “ Which Picture would you like to show sir?”

    “Just tell ‘em to send whatever is up for grabs and to shake a leg! Then wire the printer in Philadelphia with our schedule as soon as word arrives!“ (-Royal Printing Co. in Philadelphia, PA. )

    I’m sure he would have preferred something more recent but this was the best he could get at short notice considering every movie house in America probably wanted to show a Carol Lombard movie as soon as could be arranged.

    Lombard’s funeral was held on Jan. 21, 1942
    8F812EA3-14D2-4DBA-A6F1-E38FE531203C.jpeg

    You can see a typographical error as the movable Lead linoType for the press had moved during operation creating the words “las topportunity“

    I found a photo of another copy of this same printing online that shows the type that was accurate leading me to believe this as evidence that the lead type letter “t” to have slid over. Curious as to how many printings were ordered and how many had the error. Adds more character and a bit of a story on its own!


    The newest feature in the lineup is 1942’s Blondie Goes to College . The dates listed for showings confirm the lobby card dates to 1942.

    -True Confessions 1937

    -Dodge City 1939

    -Blondie Goes to College 1942

    -Target for Tonight

    1941 (RAF Bomber Command)

    -Birth of the Blues 1941

    -The Iron Claw #10 serial (The Curse of the Cave)

    (The Iron Claw (1941) was a 15 part serial released by Columbia Pictures .)

    here is the other print posted online with the correct spelling of “last opportunity “
    54B8075F-60CC-403D-8C66-F2C96082E961.jpeg

    one day ill have it properly framed but in the meantime this donor will do to protect it and get it on my wall :)
    BAE2E46F-7BD2-42DF-8287-4BBF225D0494.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
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  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Those were known in the business as "showcards," and most little neighborhood theatres used them as inexpensive advertising -- there were printing companies called "show printers" who specialized in running them off cheap and fast using letterpresses. In addition to theatres, you'd find such posters made and used for circuses, fairs, carnivals, barnstorming sports teams, home-talent plays and shows, and any other kind of event that needed quick and easy promotion.

    We have a bunch of them lying around our theatre, dating mostly from the forties, fifties, and into the sixties, all in the same visual style as shown here, and all manufactured by "Posters Inc., Phila." (Philadelphia seems to have been the center for show printing on the East Coast.)

    As far as booking old films is concerned, it was more common than people realize. With the coming of double features in the thirties, there came to be quite a demand for product to fill out the bottom half of such programs, and the studios had a regular policy of offering packages of reissues for the sub-run market which made for an agreeable alternative to the usual B pictures. If you ever wondered why the copyright date on most films of the Era appears in Roman numerals, it was to obscure the age of the films when they inevitably went into such release.
     
  3. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    Wow! Excellent info! Thanks for that! Thrilled to know what it was actually called and the context of the film lineup! I really liked this one due to the particular era and the incredible list of names. I also collect WWII Army Air Forces and R.A.F items so having the showing of the British film Target For Tonight made the decision a cinch for me. (The US version called “Target For Today” would release in 1944)
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
  4. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    They remind me of the early Rock concert posters:
    R07.jpg 23.11.63-wigan-Empress-poster-Stones.jpg 5cc2999c49fc5fc85523ca57fa585bc0.jpg
     
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  5. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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  6. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    They also came in larger versions, for application to fences, walls, or any available flat surface...

    alley.jpg
     
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  7. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    Oh thats cool. I wonder if there are any survivors out there in some collection . Most stuff like this is lost to history and only photos of this kind of ephemera remain
     
  8. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The ones we have only survived because they were used as insulation in an attic -- a lot of old commercial paper survives today for such reasons. It was common to gather up old posters and ad signs and such and tack them to the rafters. They didn't really work that well, but it gave you the feeling that you were at least trying.

    Such posters were made of the cheapest, flimsiest cardboard for reasons other than the fact that it was cheap -- when used outside, it would blow away or wash away in the rain by the time the next round of posters was ready to go up, thus saving the billposter the trouble of tearing down and disposing of the old ones. So you can imagine how few of these sorts of materials survive.
     
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  9. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    What an awesome photo. Ebbets Field, clothes on a wash line and posters advertising events at the Patio - you can't get much more Brooklyn than that.
     
  10. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    "PoST NO BiLLs"
     
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  11. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    I have a weakness for ephemera as well, some of it movie related. Among the magazines and paper advertising are a few movie posters, including a 46” by 64” “French grande” occupying a large section of wall in the short-term rental unit.

    What’s the trade lingo for the more recent 27” by 40” posters meant to be backlit? I have one for “Little Miss Sunshine,” the bright yellow and “direction” of which works just swimmingly where I have it hanging.
     
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  12. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    I don't believe there is a particular term for the double sided posters other than just calling them Doubled-sided posters or Double sided One-Sheets.
    I have a few movie theater one-sheets from when I worked at one... I had the opportunity to snag a few from time to time. I have Back to the Future III, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Biloxi Blues to name a few.... after all these years still rolled up in tubes... can't afford to frame such large images in the way they need to be but a trip to Michael's or Hobby Lobby will have to do one day with a coupon :D
    I have an original Raiders of the Lost Ark one-sheet sadly in rough shape and folded but it is a personal treasure as it is the actual poster used in my small town theater when I saw it in 1981 at the age of 13 years old. A friend of mine asked the theater owner for it when the run ended and actually was able to get it... many years later that friend gave it to me as a gift! to have the actual poster from the theater where I saw it is a time capsule item for me so I treasure it as much as the holy grail itself! :D
     
  13. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Yep, we just order them as one-sheets. All posters shipped out thru the major distributors by default are now double-sided. Some small indies still send out the single-sided ones, but you don't see those very often.

    Posters used to be shipped folded into eighths, and you were supposed to return them to National Screen Service for reuse when your run was finished --- which is why they used to be comparatively hard for civilians to get. NSS was dissolved in the early 2000s, and first Technicolor and then Deluxe took over distribution of advertising stuff for theatres -- and they were a lot less fussy about it. Their posters came, and still come today, in tubes, and they don't care what you do with them after the run is over. Right now I'm awash in posters for superhero/kiddie/action movies we'll never show, and what I can't give away locally gets tossed.
     
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  14. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    It’s mildly annoying that the industry switched from 27” by 41” sheets to 27” by 40”.

    The one-inch shorter frames are inexpensive and easily available. Not so with the 41-inchers. So finding frames for the older posters is usually a more costly proposition, although I have found them pretty cheap at secondhand stores.
     
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  15. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    Back in the late-’60s my brother came upon a large pile of posters promoting rock ’n’ roll shows at a local theater. They were mostly done in what we have since come to call a “psychedelic” style — neon colors, “melting” lettering, surreal scenes. We covered the bedroom walls with the things, and while I can’t say just what became of them, I can say that they didn’t survive a subsequent move.
     
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  16. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    As you probably already know, there’s ALWAYS a digital coupon at Michael’s. Just ask your smartphone.

    We’re decidedly maximalist in our approach to interior decor around here. It’s not an exaggeration to note that there are at least a hundred graphical elements on the walls, most of it framed artwork of one sort or another. We aren’t ones to spend on framing multiples of what the art itself costs. (Professional framing runs into real money.) So it’s thrift stores and Michael’s for us. Rattle can spray paint is an effective way to turn a five-dollar secondhand picture frame into something more distinctive.

    (I’ll admit, though, to dropping $200 on a frame for that 46” by 64” French grande alluded to above.)
     
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  17. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    yup! I have the Michaels and Hobby Lobby apps. most of what I have hanging on walls are of the found and repurposed frame ilk. :D I have a couple of things professionally matted and framed but from many years ago when I could almost afford it. not sure if I can find the older one-sheet sized frames though as the older ones I have are the 27” by 41” sheets and unless I'm mistaken the hobby craft stores only carry up to 27” by 40”?
     
  18. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    40E9E1B2-1505-422B-AA0B-F0C05A7F319C.jpeg
    Yup, such has been my experience. The industry went to the one-inch-shorter standard quite some time ago and the cheap frame manufacturers followed suit. After all, no point in mass-producing something for which the market is small and steadily shrinking.

    The 27 by 41 size apparently wasn’t just the movie poster standard. I’ve seen art gallery posters in that size as well, but I believe that industry has followed the movies in shrinking ’em by an inch. Digging through the inventory at thrift stores and the like might bear fruit. I’ve had good luck at Habitat for Humanity ReStores. The 27 by 41 frame in the above photo had a gallery poster when I found it.
     
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  19. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed A-List Customer

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    sweet. I'll keep an eye out at stores like that. a couple of Goodwill nearby.
     
  20. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

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    I’ve bought framed “art” (to be generous) just for the frame many times, thinking that at some point I’ll have something more to my liking to put in it. I have several such frames in the basement utility room.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021
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